Motherhood

What Are Your Kids’ Personalities?

Toby and Anton

Toby and Anton are different in a very specific way…

Anton

Anton is a rough and tumble kid. “When I grow up, I don’t want to live in the regular west but like the west-y west,” he told me. He has visions of riding horses and living that cowboy life.

Toby and Anton

Look at Anton’s face in this photo, ha! “Anton’s like an old-fashioned kid; I bet he has a paper route somehow,” my sister-in-law said this weekend. And my dad added, “I’ve always considered Anton to be 65 years old since the day he was born.”

Toby

Meanwhile, Toby is a heart-on-his-sleeve romantic, who has always loved violins and dates and blazers with gold buttons. The other day, he invited our little neighbor over. “Wear a dress, if you want?” he told her. He wore a shirt tucked into leggings, as one does. And they had cheesy pasta, and played restaurant and valet parking, and it was all very, very fancy.

We’ve raised both boys the same way, they’re just naturally such different kids. It continually surprises me, and I’m fascinated to see the way they keep changing as they grow up.

Toby and Anton

What about the little ones in your life? What are their personalities like? What are they into these days?

P.S. Toby and Anton in conversation, and our most beloved children’s books.

  1. Laura says...

    When i was pregnant with my daughter I came across a onesie that said, “Born to be mild” that made me smile because I thought it would be the perfect fit for my child. My husband and I are both really mild-mannered, and I assumed our offspring would follow suit. WRONG! She’s only 11 months old but I can already tell she’s gonna be a spit-fire. She wants what she wants and she wants it now. She gets super focused on tasks, and then gets so frustrated when she can’t figure them out. I had to hide my water bottle today because she just wants to sit taking the cap on and off over and over again, but when she can’t get it to go on the right way she starts screaming hurls it across the room! If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past year it’s that she’s in control and I’m just along for the ride.

  2. Angela says...

    Hmm… I love this kind of conversation. Personalities are so interesting to me. I have 3 children: a boy, a girl, and another boy. Our eldest child is highly intelligent, verbal, extremely sensitive, bossy, creative, and big into quality time. He likes to know the plan, to have things explained. Our middle child, since the day she was born, has been the most deliberate individual I have ever known in my life. She does not do a thing she doesn’t want to do and she doesn’t do anything until she’s good and ready. My grandmother calls her our tomboy princess because she’s into princesses and twirly dresses and pink, but she is also the most likely of the 3 to be naked, stomp in a puddle, or get her hands dirty. And lastly, our freckle-faced, red-headed caboose…He is firey and temperamental, demanding and loud. He is the most physically affection of the 3, actually just the most physical period. He is my snuggle bug and I am his person. He is always good for a laugh and frequently, purposefully, does things to make us smile.
    I love the differences between the 3. I love the challenge of raising 3 distinct individuals. I love knowing them. I love loving them.

  3. Danielle says...

    I have been a teacher for almost 20 years and have seen all walks of children and their siblings. I thought I was thoroughly prepared to have my own children and mold them into fantastic humans. Much to my dismay, I was FLOORED with the hard truths of inborn personality. I was shocked to find out I only get about 20% of them to work on, lol. They are who they are. We can only accept, love, and slowly let go..,

  4. Amy says...

    Our first is very intense, loud, in your face, and great at everything. He makes all kinds of friends and I’ve been told repeatedly that he’s a “nice guy” or their child really likes him. He can communicate like an adult and questions EVERYTHING! Adults can get irritated because he notices nonsense quickly and will call out unnecessary steps to accomplish something.

    I found our second hard to “parent” when he was a baby. I couldn’t get a grasp on him. He’s cautious and introverted crotchety and extremely affectionate. He’s our 80 yr old man trapped in a 4 yr old body. I joke that God gave him to us because he knew I’d let him enjoy a sip of black coffee, trounce around naked eating peaches, or entertain his desire for dark chocolate. He will remind me to grocery shop for snacks, grips my hair and snuggles in with a “you’re my best mommy EVER!” He’s slower to warm but LOVES playing with his brother’s friends. We were nervous for him to start preschool because I don’t know that he even knows what he likes or if he just does what his brother likes. He has also made friends and is just a relaxed easy going very active kid.

    They are complete opposites except when they seem to be exactly the same and good luck figuring that out.

  5. Jill says...

    I don’t have children myself, but I really relate to this with my sister (we are 2.5 years apart in age); we couldn’t be more different. I’m very type A, high strung, academically oriented and she is so go with the flow, creative and hated school. People have always commented on how it seems impossible we were raised in the same house by the same parents (our parents are similarly confused!). We fought like all hell when we were kids, but now that we’re older we’re super close and honestly I don’t think anyone knows/just “gets” me better than she does. What’s really funny though is that our long term significant others (her husband, my fiance) are oddly similar. Makes me think there is some underlying connection between us that not even we knew we had.

  6. nicole says...

    1000% agree with your description of Anton just from pictures of him.

  7. Also Joanna says...

    My kids are also super different, and something that freaked me out for the longest time was that I didn’t feel the same way about them. To clarify, I have always loved them both whole-heartedly, but my love for them is so different that I thought I was doing it wrong! But one day, I realized that I love all the different people in my life in different ways – my love for my husband is different than my love for my mom, which is different than my love for my best friend, because they are all *wait for it* different people! And that’s okay! Loving my kids differently doesn’t mean loving one more than the other… it’s just a different kind of love.

    • AnnaLynne says...

      I’ve thought so much about this! Before I had our baby my boss would always tell me, “Once your baby is born, you won’t love you husband anymore”. I’m happy and grateful to report that that hasn’t been the case for me. I deeply love both of them, BUT in completely different ways!!! I wish I could go back and explain that to her, because I think she saw it as a one-kind-of-love deal or nothing deal. Different people = different relationship = different love!! 💛

  8. Nicole says...

    I have a girl and a boy, 18 months apart, who are now 11 and 10 years old. Getting to know them has also meant getting to know myself and my husband better. My daughter is much more like her dad emotionally, while my son takes after me. I share many interests with my daughter but I felt an instant connection with my son from day 1. I feel so lucky with the both of them because they fit me so well. Seeing other parents struggle with their kids has made me even more appreciative of this.

  9. Lia says...

    So interesting. I have an older daughter and twins, a boy and girl. The eldest is brilliant, lazy, high-strung, stubborn, flighty (or mercurial?) and also delightfully insightful at times. When she loves something, the LOVES it. When she is angry, she is beyond reason. She is smart as a whip but if anything slows her down she quits, declares it is stupid, and moves to the next thing.

    My son, the middle child, is a loving, goofy old man. He can be very whiny (and has been since day one) but also loves to give the best hugs. He is a friendly dude, likes superheros and firetrucks, but has also rocked pink toenails and dress up heels with his firefighter costume.

    My youngest, his twin, is also super stubborn, veeeery slow to warm up, but once she is comfortable with someone or something she becomes the HBIC and runs the show, and she is the most loyal kid I have.

    My girls are not morning people, my son is. My oldest two are picky eaters, my youngest is an excellent eater. My oldest is the creative, my younger two less so (so far). It has been so fun to watch their personalities emerge over the few years, and I can’t wait to see who they become!

  10. Lisa says...

    My babies are quite close together, and best of frenemies. For some of the differences I wonder if it’s down to birth order (my daughter as the youngest had to sort herself out sometimes). My son is very gregarious – everyone in the neighbourhood knows him, but also sensitive and shy in new situations. My daughter is the bravest person I know; she has no fear but is less sociable than her brother. My son is so cuddly – he’ll have long snuggles with us in the morning whereas my daughter is cuddly on her own terms. The biggest difference is that my son is an evening person. I didn’t realise that it wasn’t regular for a baby to sleep in until 9 in the morning. My daughter is a morning person. From the moment she opens her eyes she is up and ready to go (which wasn’t fun when she was getting up at 4:30/5). I didn’t really believe in morning / evening people until I saw such a stark difference in my children from when they were a few months old

  11. Nicole says...

    Where is Toby’s shirt from? My little guy would love a shirt like that!

  12. Jolanda says...

    My son and daughter are also night an day.

    He is a strong-headed, curious little boy who gives the best slobbery kisses. I recognise so much of myself in him.
    My daughter is just like my husband, and although she is only 3, she leaves me in awe every day with the observations she does and the things she says.

    I said to my husband this weekend that loving them sometimes feels like loving a friend, that you know is too cool for you, but your just so thankful they don’t see it like that and love you back…

    • Nicole says...

      Yes I can totally relate to the last paragraph of your comment! My kids are so much smarter, cooler and better looking than I ever imagined them to be. If I had known them when I was a kid myself I would have wanted to be their friend.

    • Mari says...

      lol That’s funny and sweet.

  13. I had a meaningful vision before each child was born.

    My daughter, an indigenous warrior leading soldiers in single-file through high grass, holding a spear. My son, a silver fish, in a flashing stream at the bottom of a meadow, seen only by the light he shines.

    She’s a neurosurgical resident now. He’s a writer and a maker of garments. I swear the world isn’t always rational.

    • Beth says...

      Amazing!

    • Lauren P. says...

      Dang, this is so beautiful.

  14. Cheryl says...

    My daughter is six and definitely will end up kicking ass and taking names. I repeatedly have to remind her she is not the boss of me. She wants to be mayor, president, an environmentalist who will make decisions for everyone, such as implementing rules like No more Fish on Thursday and Everyone Be Vegetarian. (She is veg)
    She feels passionately about every. Single. Thing and is on level 11 intensity at all times.
    The interesting thing is there are a bunch of girls her age I know that are the same way. I often wonder if this generation of souls incarnated to drive a revolution that changes the world forever. I sure hope so!

    • Cheryl, she sounds awesome. I have to say to my 3-year-old all the time, “Who’s in charge here?” and she often talks about how she can’t wait to grow up and be in charge (she seems to think that then the tables will turn and she will be in charge of ME!). I love your idea of a generation of souls poised for revolution!!

  15. SaraY says...

    We have a 5 1/2 year old son who has been old and wise and always thinking since birth. His newborn pictures show a furrowed brow; his first smile arrived late and not easily. He’s never empty handed, always holding a toy or lovey or pinecone or acorn. We joke he must have squirrel genes because he socks away goodies in our home like no other! He’s very literal so joking is a delicate balance of responding to his ‘really?? That happened??” with a calm rational answer. He is calm and rational. And thinking. His best friend since one week old (no joke) is wild and rambunctious and a kid’s kid- forever dirty, climbing, and noisy. They are an oddly matched pair and yet together they have an unbreakable connection. I enjoy witnessing these two friends: the one who boosts the other to be brave, the one who encourages the other to be more introspective and quiet. My son says a lot about ‘when he gets older’ he’ll do this or that. I try to encourage him to do those things now because older is just around the corner, might as well be brave before getting older passes.

  16. Narissa says...

    Today, I was sitting on the boardwalk in Williamsburg reading and I notice a boy on the tiniest skateboard. I asked the woman he was with about the board, as my three year old is bugging me for one. The woman signals the older boy asking about the board and lo and behold it’s Toby and Anton! They were super sweet telling me about the skateboard. I still think my 3 yo is too young but in a couple of years I’ll look into the penny skateboard recommended by Toby. Really sweet kids Joanna!

    • Ashley says...

      That’s so cool!

  17. Marina says...

    I have 7 year old twin boys and two older children (boy and girl) and I feel the amazed at how ‘individual’ they are, even though they look identical. They are SO different! M is a very ‘boy’ boy, strong, rough and oh-so-sweet when he lets his guard down; he likes things done ‘by the book’ and is all into the little miracles of everyday life. J is bright (I probably shouldn’t say this, but he’s the most inteligent – in the “typical” sense – of all my children), lazy, funny, generous and sensitive.
    Born 4 minutes apart, raised the same way, in the same phase of life (I believe this is very important, we change as parents, as life changes).

    My girl is smart, brave and wise, stuborn and strong-willed. I always think she’ll grow up to change the world, and I’m confident she will keep all siblings united when we’re gone.

    My eldest is a dreamer and a scientist, shy and funny and open-to-new-experiences in a beautiful way. He’s always loosing everything (he has lost his trumpet 3 times this year! How do you lose a trumpet????), but his sister finds his stuff.

    They usually make two pairs, for games and other activities: girl with M, and eldest boy with J. That’s how they fit. It is an absolute delight to watch. :)

  18. Jenny T. says...

    My daughter’s daycare providers and teachers are always asking us what we do at home to have raised such a joyful, energetic little girl. To be honest, I have no idea! Where I was a painfully shy bookworm, my four year old is an outgoing, often loud, bundle of energy and giggles who hasn’t met a tree she doesn’t want to climb or a person she can’t befriend.

  19. Rosie says...

    I have a girlie girl, and I love it, but my wife is completely bewildered. She is so similar to me that it almost feels like deja vu when I watch her try something new and light up. I’ve learned to embrace some things that my wife likes like outdoor sports, and I think she assumed our daughter would do the same, but that is not the case: ballet, watercolor paintings, princess dresses, baking, and the Little House on the Prairie books. My wife is terrified of the water, and both my daughter and I love swimming and sailing. I’ve encouraged my wife to find common ground and find an activity that they both like, but they’ve struggled with it even though they spend far more time together. My wife makes jokes that I gave birth to my clone, but I can tell she is hurt. I know this was supposed to be about kid’s distinct personalities, but sometimes they really aren’t that distinct.

    • tod says...

      They’ll find something in common eventually. Don’t worry.

    • Christina says...

      Oh, Rosie. That is hard! I’m sure you feel caught in the middle of loving it and also empathizing with her feelings.
      But my first thought – based on, “even though they spend far more time together” – your wife clearly loves spending time with YOU! How fun it must be to have a little one so reflective of the person you’ve chosen to spend your life with.
      Like Tod said, I’m sure they will find something to connect on eventually, hopefully sooner than later. Parenting is tough, man.

  20. Kathy says...

    My youngest’s personality is just starting to emerge (he will be 1 later this month), but he is already so different from my eldest in a million little ways that I can’t even put into words yet. I’ve been thinking to myself, wow they are so different, since day 1.

    I think growing up relating to our siblings is only part of the “birth order” story. How our parents relate to us is formative as well. Think about all those memes about parents fretting over a first baby and then letting the second, third, fourth and so on children parachute off the playground equipment and eat dirt, etc.

    I really struggled mentally after my first birth, but after my second, I felt like myself (such a relief). I wonder whether that difference so early on in their lives will affect their personalities.

  21. Elizabeth says...

    What precious boys! It always cracks me up when expecting parents express a preference for a certain gender if they already have one or more of the other. Aside from the fact that children do not always conform to traditional gender roles (nor should they), it is not necessary to birth a child of a different gender in order to have a completely different parenting experience! My three daughters are perfect examples of this.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i couldn’t agree with you more, elizabeth! when we had a second boy, i thought (naively) at the time, oh, i know how to do this! i know what will make him laugh, what he’ll be into, etc. because i already had a boy. but they have been SO different from day one and have responded so differently to the world around them. really amazing and enjoyable to witness.

    • Blandine says...

      Fully agree. I also have two boys and although they get along very well and laugh at the same things, they have very different personalities.

  22. Jessica says...

    My daughter (nearly 6) is all make-believe: fairies, unicorns, dragons, ninjas, superheroes. My son is all reality and facts even when playing make-believe. You’re superman I’ll say to him when he’s wearing his cape. “I’m not superman. I’M Leonard PLAYING superman”

    • Sarah says...

      That is hilarious, Jessica!

  23. Amanda G says...

    I feel like a terrible mom as I haven’t been able to pinpoint my sons personality just yet. He turned 11 months old. He definitely is a needier baby but can be silly. Sometimes if he is fussing, his little eyebrows go up and can see kind of a half smile, like to see my reaction . He will fake cough at dinner to keep us on our toes while eating his meal. Again, half smile and light in his eyes. I’m not so sure what we or his future teachers are in for.

    • Rosie says...

      He’s just a baby! Don’t beat yourself up. I couldn’t have predicted my daughter and her interests at 11 months old. She was always super independent and way ahead on the milestones. I almost expected that by 6 she would be an adult, but the intense focus, calm, and maturity we saw when she was very little manifested into patience and being a good listener and a love of painting and ballet. I couldn’t have told you that when she was 11 months old.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, amanda, don’t worry at all! your son sounds so sweet, and kids change so much in those early years (and, i’m sure, their whole lives!). interestingly, anton was SILENT for the first year of his life — he barely babbled and just watched the world. i thought he would be super quiet his whole life. but then he came to life at around one year old and became super cheeky, funny and chatty. now he’s full of beans and has a hilarious sense of humor. we never stop learning about these little people as they grow!

    • Marion says...

      Nah, you’re entirely right. At 11 months I was still describing my son to people as “Um, he’s a baby, I guess. He’s cool?” Now he’s five I could write a book about his specific personality and quirks.

    • Marisa says...

      My younger boy just turned 1 and I could say the same thing: I don’t know who he is yet! He likes to smile and pursues fun and things that thrill. And he bops to music. But more details… not so obvious yet. And maybe those things that I do notice most are because I realize they’re different from my first boy, who also smiled a lot, but I would say is more simply fearless/limitless rather than thrill-seeking, and told me “no singing” almost as soon as he could talk, so this second one is delightfully musical in comparison! I think the next year will really start to show differences or similarities in interests for our littler ones. Don’t feel guilty! They’re coming!

  24. Sarah says...

    I’m sure you roll your eyes every time I comment about my triplets, but this is a subject that I think about ALL THE TIME with them. Born on the exact same day 2 minutes apart- they’ve eaten the same breastmilk, formula, food, had the same sleep schedule, received the same physical and occupational therapy, and most importantly, the same love from me and my husband. Nevertheless, they are completely different. The “oldest” is a clingy mama’s boy, very funny and takes things seriously. The middle is soooo chill, happy, and sleeps like a rock. The “youngest” is INSANE- 100% energy, full-throttle every waking moment, HUGE feelings and reactions. They progressed differently for every milestone, and even say completely different sets of words. It helps me to feel better when one is struggling with something- I’m doing my job, they’re fine, I shouldn’t overthink it.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so fascinating, sarah!

    • annie says...

      Gosh, same here, only twins instead. It is enthralling to me how different my 18-year old boys are and have been from the second they were born one minute apart. One came out screaming and has been vocal, noisy and full-tilt ever since. The other was and is just like a cuddly bunny – so gentle, so calm. I love them dearly.

  25. Ruth says...

    This warms my heart. My older daughter is almost 4 and my younger one is just about 6 months. I’m SOOOOO curious to see how they’ll be different and alike. They were fairly different babies (at least so far), but also even at a young age seem similar in many ways. The younger one likes to be part of everything (wants to be at the dinner table with us, not down on the floor in her bouncy seat) but doesn’t need to be the center of attention, like her older sister. Younger one is much more of a watcher and observer while the other one likes to jump in (though, cautiously). Love watching these little humans grow!

  26. My two boys are 2 years apart and despite their many differences still manage to be inter-connected and weaved into one soul. Spencer, my oldest is wise beyond his years, super serious, a true over achiever… (sound like a typical oldest child?) Lucas, my middle, is free spirited, a little old man in a young boys body, loves the cowboy life and definitely would rather be living on the range. Ella Kate is my youngest, her passions are her music and sports, super sensitive, detail oriented, yet fiercely independent. All good traits she will carry into adulthood, yet sometimes not so much at 8! My children have all been uniquely creative since day one, despite being cut from the same cloth. My life’s greatest joy is watching them grow up and become one step closer to their true selves.

  27. Kellie P says...

    I have three girls (6, 3 and 5 months) and they are all very different. But, what surprises me is how COMPLEX they are, especially my oldest. What I mean is, in a lot of ways she is classic type-A, first child, but then she can be so goofy and disorderly, too. She can also be so brave about some things (holding snakes, climbing high trees) but also the world’s biggest wimp (HATES shots, scared to sleep alone). I feel like I am always trying to figure her out. Kind of like myself…. omg she reminds me so much of…. ME. Haha!

  28. Celia says...

    It happens the same with my nephews. And I mean the same. The oldest is like Toby, and the little one is like Anton haha
    I’ve seen this happen in other “older brother, little brother” a few times already! :)

  29. Geraldine says...

    I once read a book on education from Jane Nelsen and she has an interesting theory to explain those differences between siblings. Being different from the elder, excelling in another domain is just one of the main strategy for a child to get his/her parents’ attention (another one being competing with other siblings in the same domains).
    So if n°1 is a sporty, n°2 will be an intellectual, n°3 might be a clown, etc.
    She has very interesting insights on how being the eldest/youngest/middle child, genre and age difference between siblings influence personality.

  30. Blair says...

    It’s funny friends and I were just having a similar conversation yesterday. My two girls are polar opposites, one likes to be neat and tidy, the other a wild mess maker, one is a toe the line, soft voice, heart of gold, the other loud, doesn’t give a care in the world what anyone thinks will stand her ground, do it her way, dress in whatever comfortable clothing she can dig out (two days ago wore, purple fleece tights, mustard yellow flimsy shorts, a bright pink leo and leopard boots to school, my oldest, matches in dresses that aren’t too long or too short, fit just right, wear just the right matching shoes and has her hair brushed 100 times and braided in two exactly matching braids. For how opposite they are you would think the bickering and fighting would be non stop. They never fight, like ever ever. They also have a little brother that is the perfect mix of both of them. I just adore each of them for their own unique outlook on life. They both love babies, animals and stand up for the those that wont stand up for themselves (just in very different ways, one loudly and with gusto and one quietly without making it a big to do!). All three have been raised the exact same way, by the same two parents. I cannot wait to see what happens as they get older!

  31. Allison says...

    Birth order explains almost all of it!

  32. So, so cute. My two sisters and I always looked alike yet couldn’t be more different growing up. It fascinates me. My own little boy is already such a character at 2.5 years, he’s his own little person that I just try to keep up with every day <3

  33. Daughter is the queen of England, son is a wrestler. Husband is an artist, wife is therapist. Too many characters at home, a total chaos (and i love it) .. oh and all these happen in a very multicultural household in Germany :D

  34. Shelley says...

    My two “boys” are now 30 and 34! They were and still are very different, but as your last photo shows too, my two always got along great (which I’d like to think I helped nurture as that was important to me). Even though they continued to develop in different directions as adults, they’ve always been each other admirers and biggest supporters.

  35. Jes says...

    Taking a pottery class with my youngest two and love seeing their totally different approaches. 10yo loves the physical process, embraces his failures, has a funny little commentary the entire time. 7yo is deeply focused on technique, wants to learn how to do it herself, leans toward perfectionism. If my 12yo was joining us I suspect she would smash her clay to bits in moments of frustration…but instead she chooses to stay home on those nights and does an excellent job of independently making family dinner (thank goodness!). Also, my kids recently became interested in learning Rubik’s cube. Let me tell you, that’s another way to see how different their personalities are! I just love it and am so excited to watch what kind of adults they become!

  36. So whenever thinking about the question of kids personalities I always tell this story about my youngest son who btw is now 28. He was born in late August so when we moved back to the states (after being out of the country for 4 years) we had a choice of whether to move him forward a year into middle school or keep him back and give him another year before making this jump. We had a meeting to discuss the pros and cons of this decision with counselors at the school and one of the questions that was posed to us was “is your son athletic??” meaning of course that if this was important to him or relevant we might want to think about keeping him back a year so he could have more time to gain size and maturity. So both my husband and I had a ready response, “Definitely not” we said. “He’s never shown any interest or particular ability in sports or athletic pursuit; in fact he’s a very mellow, shy and unaggressive young man by nature.” Well long story short we made the “well thought out” decision to move him ahead into middle school and then somehow in front of our eyes over the next 6 years he morphed into the high school athlete of the year becoming a state champion swimmer (backstroke) and captain of the number one water polo team in the state. And yes he could have used that extra year (would have helped him with college scholarships) but we just couldn’t see or fathom the changes that were about to unfold in that kid. So yes personality and natural abilities can seem hardwired and sometimes they are but other times as we experienced not so much!!!! k

  37. L says...

    We have boys ages 8 and 4. Oldest is a rule follower and gets completely pissed if someone isn’t following said rules. (He is testing Mom and Dad a bit more as he grows, but as far as others, would never step out of line.) Little bro does not give one sh*t about anyone’s rules. They are a match made in heaven.

    I was not the easiest kid and once I was into particularly fun adolescent years, my father looked straight at me and said, “I cannot wait until you have a kid exactly like yourself.” Enter our youngest. Ha! Life…

  38. Amy says...

    “ I bet he has a paper route somehow,”
    😂😂😂The best! I can totally see it from his pictures!

  39. I find it totally thrilling to get to know my kids!! I try to be careful not to box them in while also teaching them manners and compassion. .. have recently observed to a friend that I don’t have any shy, retiring children :) Also, my teenager recently found my enneagram books and is passing them all around her friend group and they discuss their personalities endlessly – probably a good part of their life stage. I am frank with my kids about my own personality, and we talk about what they see themselves as (introvert or extrovert???) and it’s SO fun.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      my friend was just talking about the enneagram tests. so fascinating. i’d love to take it!

  40. Ing says...

    Our oldest boy (4) is a force. A dictator. We call him Kim Jong when he’s being particularly demanding. He whines a lot but can also turn it on at a moments notice. He started speaking at 9 months, and using huge words when he was 1. (“Delicious! Astounding! Furious!”) He’s clearly intellectual, but is a ball of fury when he doesn’t get his way. His cuddles are far and few, but its always such a privilege to get affection from him.

    Our youngest boy (1) is the opposite. He rarely cries. Isn’t affected by his brothers jealousy. He can’t be bothered to talk yet, since his brother does all the talking. He smiles at strangers, eats everything, is curious, wide eyed and joyful. He’s just so much easier, am I allowed to say that? I love them both endlessly, but sometimes I cannot believe how different they are! Parenting is such a crazy adventure. I laugh a lot.

    Love reading about your kids! They seem wonderful <3

    • Rose says...

      Your description of your boys sounds nearly identical to our boys (5 and 3)!! Our oldest is definitely a force of nature, and can turn from very stormy to incredibly light and bright in a second. He also has been highly verbal from a very young age, while our youngest didn’t start talking (at all – we were worried) until he was over 2. He also rarely gets upset, eats everything (while the older one is very picky), and is incredibly affectionate. He is also turning into such a jokester and loves to make people laugh.

      I laugh a lot too. :-) Enjoy your family!!

    • Neela says...

      Wow, this sounds very similar to us! You made me feel very relieved with this: “he’s just so much easier, am I allowed to say that?”. I feel you! We love them unconditionally, and those powerful personalities are sure to flourish with all our nurturing, but easy is not exactly the word to describe the process!!

    • Lia says...

      This is my scenario, too, oldest sounds so similar! Her younger sibs are twins but both have been easier so far, though none of my babies were that hard, thank goodness…the challenges came when she hit three. Not there yet with the twins and am dreading it!

    • shelley says...

      It is scary how similar your descriptions are to my two boys!

  41. Caitlin says...

    My oldest is 18 months. Today when I picked him up from preschool his teacher said, “He’s very… orderly.” Hah! So true, and it always makes me laugh to see how he can be so orderly and yet so rambunctious and silly at the same time.

    My youngest is just two weeks and I am so looking forward to getting to know her more as time goes on.

  42. Nat says...

    That last photo of the boys holding hands gave me a bad case of that “Ache” mentioned in previous posts. My first and only is 18 months:)

  43. Jan says...

    This makes me think back to a friend’s words of wisdom about one’s children, each is different just like the fingers of your hand….Even multiples (my husband is a twin)

  44. Bec says...

    Aw what a sweet post.. It’s crazy how different siblings can be with the exact same upbringing. I’m not a parent, but a piano teacher and despite that idea I do see some serious similarities between kids + parents, but more in regard to their outlook and attitude. Maybe it’s something about the parents setting the model of how to react to different situations.
    Side note….I remember being FASCINATED by some news special I watched as a kid about twins separated at birth that basically all ended up with identical lives (career, styles, personality, etc.)

  45. I have two girls, three years apart.
    The oldest was born with one ear pointed and we like to joke and pretend she is part fairy. She is dreamy, head in the clouds, believer in magic, and speaks with an air of wonderment, with the dramatic hand flourishes to go with it. She can tell you about kindergarten and she relates it as if she’s telling a suspenseful fairytale.
    Her little sister is 2 and has a fierceness and determination to her that sets her apart. She speaks in directives and demands (some of that is from being 2). They are both imaginative and silly, but while the older one floats on an ethereal cloud, the little one is mischievous and impish and will splash in the muck. Her beloved preschool teacher nicknamed her endearingly, “goblin.” So there you have it, one is a fairy, and one is a goblin.

  46. Tina says...

    I have 3 children, all pretty different. The craziest thing to watch are my fraternal twin boys! They are completely different in every single way, and they shared a womb! Nature vs. Nurture is really put to the test in our household!!

  47. Michelle says...

    Just so special! I love their individuality. Makes my heart melt!!

  48. Ceridwen says...

    I love this post. My two are very different. One is very day-dreamy and philosophical, laughs at her self and generally goes with the flow. The other is all about lists, routines, sticking to commitments (she writes a book log everyday for the last 231 days without missing a day. She is 6). We went for a long walk around a lake the other day and it was so interesting watching them and hearing them on this walk. The older philosophical one was humming and climbing, talking about life and the younger one, who has said before that she hates nature and adventure, said “Mum, I’m having a good time. It’s a miracle!”. She was like, ok, I’m getting this, the sun is shining, there are flowers, this is what a walk is about. It was great.

  49. Jenna says...

    What a sweet question to ask! I think I will ask more people this question! My daughter is 7, and is so much more thoughtful than I have ever been. My parenting goals have always been to encourage her to be thoughtful of others feelings but also be really, really funny. I think she is both. She has the best one liners. She is also an old soul who can’t wait to grow up and a have her own farm, where she will have goats, sheep, definitely pigs, maybe chickens, and probably a donkey. I think i am just going to be along for the ride with my 1 year old. He is stubborn, demanding, and very curious. He also seems to have a knack for problem solving. Like, how to get past the baby lock and help himself to snacks.

  50. sara says...

    Oh I love this. I have 14 year old twins (a girl and a boy). One is truly left brained (is in a robotics-engineering program in high school) while the other is right brained (arts high school, for dance). One wears there heart on their sleeve, but the other is actually more emotional. It never ceases to amaze me the wondrous difference between siblings raised by the same people, the same age. Yet – despite these differences their loyalty to one another is second to none. It’s fierce and strong.

  51. tali says...

    my 2 kiddos (4 and 2) are sooooo different from each other. but what actually shocks me is how different they are from ME. like every time my 4 year old daughter asks a complete stranger if she can pet their dog i absolutely cringe (my current and kid self would neverrrr dare! #socialanxiety) like who are these little strangers that somehow came from my body!? we shall see!!!

  52. Gillian says...

    I have 4 kids, 3 boys and 1 girl. All very different. My 12 yo son is analytical and detail-oriented, a gifted mathematician. A bit prickly on the outside (could be adolescence talking) but sweet underneath. My 9 yo daughter is creative and kind–maybe the kindest person I have met in life. She is always looking to include everyone. While it is hard to provoke her to be angry, once she is, watch out! My 6 yo son alternates between being sweet and being mischievous. He is witty and even at 6 can tell a mean joke. My 3 yo son is joyful and enthusiastic. He does all things whole-heartedly from running across the yard, to singing a song, to sleeping, to crying. He has been a lovely and loving baby to our family.

    I find it so interesting to think about their inborn temperament and how their place in our family shapes who they are becoming.

  53. Lisa says...

    I only have one child so nothing to compare her to. She was a very difficult baby (difficult from the start as she tried to make her debut at 21 weeks but was held off until 29 weeks). Then she cried. And cried. And cried some more. For 5 months. She is now a stubborn, inquisitive, brilliant, funny, sweet, empathetic almost 3 year old. She loves the color pink, Elsa, pigs and dogs, and her mommy. It is not recommended that I have more kids, and while we have looked into surrogacy, the thought of being able to love another thing as much as I love her has stopped me from pursuing it more seriously. And also thinking about going through 5 months of crying non stop and not sleeping more than 30 minutes at a time. I would love to see a piece about a family who expanded through surrogacy. I don’t know anyone personally and that is also holding me back.

    • April says...

      Lisa– just a comment to say that my first baby was very tough, too. 18 weeks of crying before he could finally lay still and be at peace without crying…. sometimes to the point of turning himself purple! But thankfully, he grew up and became such a happy little boy, full of joy. I, too, was so so hesitant about having another. But we finally did…..and she, too, cried a LOT. Somehow, it was easier the second time. I didn’t take it so personally. But…..still tough to bear. Thankfully, hers was not as severe, it probably ended at 12 weeks. But…..both are such happy, joyful, wonderful kids now. It’s tough but you did it and you are doing great

    • Kayla Platt says...

      Check out hellobee.com I know they have at least one surrogacy mom on there. good luck!

    • Jasna says...

      Hi Lisa, if I may suggest – you can follow Piera Gelardi (@pieraluisa on Instagram) from Refinery 29. She had a baby through surrogacy and I think her feed and her love for her child is so inspirational.

    • Elise says...

      Lisa – Solidarity! I too have a difficult baby — he came out of the womb screaming, and met the definition of colic (3+ hours of screaming per day) for the first nine months. At sixteen months, he’s a bit better now but good lord it’s hard being his mom sometimes. I’m looking forward to when his intensity and persistence can be channeled into something productive. We were planning on at least one more kid but after nearly losing our sanity and our marriage with this one, we’re going to remain a family of three. All that’s to say, glad you made it through the difficult times with your girl.

  54. Kristen says...

    It often feels to me like kids naturally fill up the space that’s left in a family.

    My oldest is dramatic, wildly curious, and 100% self-motivated — he couldn’t care less if we’re pleased or not with him. My youngest is cuddly and easygoing to a fault, and wants nothing more than to be part of whatever is going on.

    Each has been that way since birth and I don’t doubt that it’s part of their genetic code, but it also feels so symbiotic, like each one is growing into spaces left by the other. I sometimes I think about them like plants growing toward the sunlight and I often wonder how they’d be different if they were growing up as only children or with different siblings.

    • Sadie says...

      I study Adlerian counselling, and birth order is one of our areas of interest. We definitely think of siblings as symbiotic! It’s as if each child is asking, “how am I different? What is my role in this family?” And finding his or her own niche that satisfies their need to belong and to express their individuality. It’s not a definitive, “oldest children are like this” thing, just that oldest children grow adapting to having someone younger around; youngest children grow up with someone who knows more than they do, etc, and those challenges shape how they learn to be in the world.

      Often times, siblings grow in opposite directions because younger children feel the oldest children have a lock on certain domains– being responsible (or irresponsible!), being the funny one or the studious one. So they choose new areas where they can excel.

      I love the idea that our families shape how we see ourselves in the world.

  55. Clare says...

    I love seeing so many commenters appreciating children’s qualities while leaving them room to grow.
    I am often still the responsible, bookish oldest child who my family said I was. I’ve also learned that even though I was not the “adventurous” kid, I can move across the country, hike mountains and do a career 180!

  56. Annie says...

    This post is really sweet, but I actually disagree with the premise behind it. It’s dangerous to label your kids any kind of personality, because kids (and adults!) change and should feel free to change. Sometimes they are X, sometimes they are Y, maybe they’ll grow up to be Z. When we label and peg our kids to a certain type, it makes this kind of growth and change harder, and it makes it harder for them to express these changes to those who love them (and who have very lovingly given them these identities.) Or they internalize them, and feel they have to live up to them. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t like to talk about my kids’ “personalities” in quite this way because I don’t ever want them to feel defined — in any way — by me or anyone else, for that matter.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Oh I completely agree! This is such a thoughtful comment, thank you. Right now this is what the boys are like but they surprise us every day. We are so happy to follow their lead and love seeing how they change and grow xoxo

  57. Simone says...

    I have two boys as well… the difference is astounding! One is compliant and affectionate; the other is wild and expressive. The love from the compliant one feels like home; the love from the wild one is an honor. It has grown me as parent to have two such different, unique humans.

    • Jenny says...

      Wow. I feel the exact same way about my two little boys… I have never been able to put it so eloquently as you have, though :) I always call them my sweet and spicy. They balance each other out in the most lovely way – truly best friends (age 2&4).

      This really tugged at my heart.

    • Melissa says...

      This is my children to a T! I never could have expressed it so eloquently, but reading the way you wrote it is just perfect.

      “The love from the complaint one feels like home; the love from the wild one is an honor.” Beautiful!

  58. Annie says...

    Even at ages 4.5 and 16 months, my 2 boys show distinct, contrasting personalities.
    Also, that last pic of the boys holding hands makes me misty-eyed with hope that my boys will be dear friends as they grow!

  59. Tina L. says...

    Oh yes, when I was pregnant with my first child, I thought, “A girl – she’ll like to sit in the corner and read books” – which was less about gender, and more about what I had liked as a child. Instead I got a wild, rambunctious, independent, loud, brave, and very confrontational kid. Whew! Not gonna lie, I still don’t quite “get” her. We’re so different, and it made for some painful tender teenage years, but now on the other side (she’s 24), I cherish who she is. Life would have been so boring with a mini me! She challenges me all the time, and makes our family’s life so fun and interesting. Also, I did not tempt fate with the same words for my 2nd and 3rd :)

  60. Kayce says...

    I have two boys. My oldest, 16, is athletic, academic, quiet and reserved. My youngest, 15, is also athletic, academic, social and whatever is opposite of reserved. At a recent doctor physical, I mentioned that my older son would rather stay home on a Friday night than go to the high school football games or hang out with friends and I thought it was strange, especially since his younger brother would die before missing out on such an event, and worried that perhaps he was depressed and maybe we should encourage him to get out more. Their doctor just looked at me and said, “they don’t all have to be the wahoo guy”. ❤️

    • Kelsi says...

      I love that so much. Good job doc!

    • Miruska says...

      This is my sister and I growing up to a T. I am the oldest and, like your older boy, very self-sufficient, while my sister has always been more interested in friends and going out. The amount of grief that brought to my parents and us is unbelievable :-).

    • Rachel says...

      I had a similar conversation with our ped once and asked if something was due to xyz…. He said “no, they are just different people with different personalities.” It was eye opening for me

    • agnes says...

      Amazing doctor!

    • Lisa says...

      I needed to hear this today! Thank your doctor for their wise words!

  61. Alex says...

    My 4 year old girl- absolute extrovert, would make friends with a mailbox. She has the loudest “hi-yah” in her taekwondo class, opens every present and exclaims “oh my gosh! it’s AMAZING! thank you so much!” and leaps off the jungle gym like a maniac. She’s destined to be a pro athlete with endorsement deals or a politician.

    My 8 month old boy – all cuddles, cheeky smiles, shy glances, deep eye contact. I can already hear the emotional poetry that will come from this kid as an introverted singer-song-writer.

  62. Sarah T says...

    I love that his little friend wore her sequinned dress! So special to have friends that understand you and want to join in your games – no matter what age you are.

    • Kathy T says...

      I totally agree Sarah…her fancy outfit says “I’m in!”

  63. Julie says...

    My 5 year old son is such a first born. He is cuddly, kind and curious and loves figuring out systems and mastering them (NYC subway, NFL teams, state capitols, etc.). He is also a rule follower. My 2.5 year old daughter is amazingly physical and daring – she will climb like she’s 7 and jump off of anything. She’s also very funny and will do anything to get us to laugh. She is not a rule follower and does not respond to even the slightest of bribery or rewards. She definitely beats to sound of her own drum. We never tell them these things of course and my husband and I just speak about these things at night with each other, but it’s fascinating and I am a big believer in the whole birth order thing as being an input to their “nature.”

  64. agnes says...

    That last photo of your boys holding hands makes me smile and I’m ready to go to bed with that beautiful image. Love is really all we need.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      <3

  65. Meg says...

    I have three, all different:
    Oldest – a complete rule follower. It matters to him if it matters to you (he even cried during the scene in Sleeping Beauty when the fairies cry because they’re going to miss Briar Rose, and he loves hearing stories of even my most minor triumphs from childhood), is scared of many things including perhaps trick or treating, loves sports and the outdoors and especially loves being on sports teams with his friends. He is very kind but can be whiny, and has limitless energy. Never wants to be alone.

    Middle – Is very moody and prickly. Cries and screams and gets upset constantly. Does not make friends easily and is this way even though other kids say hi to her and sometimes ask her to play. She is just not interested. She plays by herself and likes reading and likes art projects but absolutely detests team sports and generally seems never to need to move. She is inclined to muse deep thoughts, and this makes her a very interesting conversationalist. For example, when I told her bees can’t fly when they get too wet, she wondered exactly how many raindrops would have to land on a bee before it got too wet to fly. She is the only one of my three who has asked me about death and pregnancy and the origin of the universe, and since the age of four has been very concerned about not having to move out for college. She is smart and lies all the time and breaks every rule. She does love me very much but in my down moments I worry – at her core – is she nice?

    Youngest: A wildly enthusiastic, joyful, whirling dervish of destructive jolly energy. He pays no attention to rules or to safety or to anything. He just rushes and tackles and leaps and points out every single thing on the planet (I have pockets! I see an airplane! That squirrel ran away! You have a spoon!) with delight. His favorite song is Everything Is Awesome and that fits him perfectly. He has broken and destroyed so many things in our home, never our of malice, just because his energy cannot be contained. He loves snuggles and wants to jump right into the middle of whatever is happening and touch and see and do everything. He is fearless and curious and loves to invent his own jokes and laugh.

    Needless to say, parenting all three is an endless challenge, and I’m particularly wondering these days about how fair I am. For example, the middle child gets away with so much more than the first child, my rule follower, in part because I just don’t have the energy to punish her for every infraction and in part because it feels wrong to have one kid always in trouble, but then does the rule-following kid resent being held to a higher standard of behavior?

    • DMJ says...

      I feel like I could’ve written those same words for my no.1 and no.2! We’re still waiting to see what no.3 will bring as she’s just 7 weeks old.

      The last paragraph also is my thoughts exactly. Every. Day. Often my heart goes out to the little rule follower who is so eager to please!

    • Gill says...

      My three are so similar to this too! Though I have girl, boy, girl. How funny! And how challenging! Just reading your description makes me tired thinking about my complicated yet wonderful, little people!

    • Elliesee says...

      Your middle girl is a mix of my twin girls! There’s definitely as many personalities as people on earth. My thirteen year old is sweet yet is practicing sarcasm or something.

    • K says...

      Your oldest and middle sound like my family growing up! (I only have one child so far so not sure what it’ll like yet for me, but he is such a rule follower for sure, and sounds a lot like your first. He even corrects me when I break a rule I gave. “Mom, you’re not supposed to do that, remember?”). My youngest sibling is very laid back and social, but was also happy playing by himself as a kid. I did feel resentful being held to a high standard as the first child but as a parent now, I get that it’s challenging…it’s hard. My parents had a hard time and still do with my middle sibling. I can see that it’s tiring for them. Birth order does make such a difference I think.

    • Meg says...

      Thank you all, truly, for your replies. I published what I wrote with a lump in my throat. I am happy to find community here, facing the same challenges.

  66. Elizabeth says...

    When my daughter was three and we were at her pediatrician’s for a well visit, the doctor remarked that someone was feeling very prissy today – and I shared that she felt very prissy EVERY day. I think that day she was in a sparkly tu-tu, crown and some shiny shoes doing twirls in the corner. And she said to me, “they are who they are” – and it was so nice to know that while I could provide a variety of toys and experiences, she was who she was and it was fine. Several years later I was with a group at a Disney on Ice event and a friend of my friend was just at her wit’s end. Her daughter had come dressed in jeans and a brown turtleneck – she wanted a sword (no wand!) and a Beast doll. I was able to share that bit of wisdom – and the relief on that mom’s face.

    • Sonja says...

      Yes, they are who they are! My son, like Anton, is rough and tumble! If he’s not throwing his body around, he’s playing with cars and blocks and crashing and banging abounds. On the other hand, he is the biggest snuggler and loves to have his nails painted, ideally pink, purple, or red – like his Mama. I view my role as his mother to 1. keep him safe/fed/warm/hydrated, 2. love him to pieces (tied with 1 but his physical needs are so front of mind at this age (4), 3. keep him from being a punk to others. Everything else is 100% him. And I feel so lucky to get to know him!

    • AE says...

      I love this. My parents have 6 of us [I’m the youngest, and an angel, I swear] but the one thing my parents standby now that we are all adults is that “you were all exactly the same then as you are now”. Yes, we are shaped by experiences, but nature is VERY much there. People absolutely born with personalities and very rarely veer too far from that. I was a stubborn, resilient, “do what makes me happy” kid and that’s exactly who I am today.

    • K says...

      “You were all exactly the same then as you are now”… I love this. My son is an outgoing, people-loving, loud, active, enthusiastic kid. He was like that since the day he was born…eyes wide open, taking in the world, trying to engage with people, and with the loudest set of lungs ever. Even when nursing, he was so quick (leading to gas problems!), and during tummy time as a newborn he was so determined to raise his head. Nothing I did, just the way he was born. Nature is so fascinating.

  67. Ellie says...

    My two year old son, James, is a bright light in our lives — and so many of our friends’ and family members’, too! His categorical fascinations began with circles and lights, and have progressed to candle lights, all fires, all wheels, cars, trucks, and revolving machines, and foremost, the moon! He loves being around his family and ‘friends family’ and one of the first words he has really loved to say is “happy.” I feel so grateful to give this child a happy life, and hope to always do well by him.

    • Alice says...

      He sounds so lovely, what a gorgeous soul. My eldest son (now four) was fascinated by similar things at this age and a wise, very experienced nurse mentioned the theory of play schemas, to us. Not all children explore them, and a child won’t necessarily explore every type of schema. But it really helped us understand his fascination with balls and spinning objects. ‘Rotation’ has featured very much in our lives and his, he is now head over heels for planets! This pdf is a great breakdown of all the play schemas that some children can explore. http://www.sennenpreschool.org.uk/uploads/5/4/5/9/5459458/early_years_schema2_copy.pdf

  68. MJ says...

    My 4-year-old son is gentle and imaginative (like his mama), and my 2-year-old son is loud and very physical. We’ve introduced him as the family extrovert basically since birth. At bedtime they play “huggy” in which the goal of an embrace is to end up rolling on the floor in a soft tackle, like puppies. I rather think it represents their intermingled personalities quite beautifully.

  69. Emily says...

    I love this post! Twin girls (almost 2yo) over here who are so different from each other, people are constantly surprised that they’re even twins. It’s so fun to watch them keep changing and developing and also so fun to see them love each other and know each other really well. Magic.

  70. AJ says...

    My twin nieces (just 4!) are so different in personality too! One is obsessed with dresses, opening gifts, and is a real little performer! She’s also really observant and kind with amazing natural empathy. The other is obsessed with animals, loves winning at games (already figuring out how to cheat!) and is full of affection and laughs. They’re so sweet together and I hope they grow up always loving their differences as much as we all do.

    One thing I’m so aware of though is to avoid giving them reductive ‘labels’ that imply a certain role or expectation in the family. So many of us grew up with those and they suck! (The quiet one, the good one, the fun one, the clever one…)

    • AE says...

      I totally agree with this. So many of the comments here are about how people call this son “The extrovert” and that son “the smart one”– don’t do that! It robs your kids of imagination/how they see themselves and makes them feel like that is all they are– they become tied to an identity they may not even own. Growing up in a very intellectual and high achieving family I was the “pretty one” and I absolutely resented it. [In fact, my uncle introduced me to someone this weekend as the “pretty one” and I’m a whole 30+ years old!]

  71. Alexis says...

    My 5 yo son is a Leo, through and through. He was due to be a Virgo but arrived early, so I think this was meant to be.
    He loves performing – I have a playlist of his favorite songs (Spiderman and Guardians of the Galaxy soundtracks, mostly) and he has special moves for each song. He loves to pretend – let’s pretend we’re at Legoland! Let’s play cops and robbers! Pretend we’re the Avengers! I’m convinced he’ll be an actor of sorts, but he’s also a big builder/tinkerer so he may or may not have a day job as an architect or engineer.

  72. Owl says...

    What a sweet post! Yes, it is so true. Siblings definitely bring their own nature to the nurture! Lol.

  73. Abbe says...

    8-year-old daughter: Good Vibes Gemini
    She could pull off going: “EVERYBODY MAKE SOME NOOOIII-IISSSE!, clearly lives by the adage “One can never have too many friends.” (I could never emcee an event with a mic, but she definitely could.)

    Almost 3-year-old boy twin: Eloquent Ham
    -[Referring to himself]: “Haakon just needs a little space.”
    -“I think I just need to lie down for a little while.”
    -[Eating yogurt pretzels with orange fall sprinkles]: “Do these got freckles? Just like Daddy?!”

    Almost 3-year-old girl twin: Quiet Intense One
    -“You beautiful” (to her big sister)
    -[Whispers]: “It’s an EXPLOSION.”
    -[Bursts through the door after preschool, shouts]: “I MADE GOOD CHOICES!”

    • Megan says...

      “I MADE GOOD CHOICES!”
      LOlll bless her heart. I love all of these.

    • Abbe says...

      Especially with twins, I really try to avoid labeling them as opposites of each other (e.g. outgoing vs. quiet), and I don’t tell them they come across these ways to me.

      But it’s so true that kids have their personalities from the very beginning! Room to grow and change for sure, but I love each of their little personalities so much.

    • Maggie says...

      Thank you!! I needed this today!! Bless you and your children!!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, these are so so cute.

  74. Anne says...

    I have 2 kids as well and they are each others opposites and as with many people here, I have no idea how that happened.

    One (the youngest at 3) is full of energy, spite, laughter and understands systems extremely quickly (numbers, puzzles, letters, getting dressed, the clock, etc).

    The other (the oldest at 5) is limp like a cloth and always tired, thoughtful and full of imagination. A wonderful conversationalist and at 5 we can talk for hours on end, but dammit it is impossible to do puzzles with him – he does everything upside down and backwards.

  75. julie s says...

    I don’t have kids yet, but this post made me think of our little neighbor girl. I don’t even know her name, but she’s always standing along the road with a NASA shirt on, braids that are just holding on at the ends, and looks like she’s been running the entire day. Her older sister is always holding the dog. She can’t be any older than 5 and I always feel like I know her personality. And I love it.

  76. Aura Parks-Wise says...

    Two boys, five years apart and so completely different yet share some of the same fundamental building blocks:
    Harry– 3.5 and a solid, independent and highly verbal kid who knows his own self and will snuggle endlessly if given the opportunity.
    Eliot– almost 9 and a sporty, gangly whirl of energy and infectious laughter. Likes absurdity and drawing, highly emotional and nurturing of his brother.

    and both with my blue eyes– they got me!

  77. Megan says...

    My two boys have been exactly themselves since birth and so different from each other. It’s like watching two amazingly beautiful, completely different flowers bloom. There is a total universe in each.

    • Courtney says...

      I don’t even have kids yet and this made me cry!

  78. Chantsy says...

    My pre-child self was SO idealistic. My kids will listen to me all the time, do as I say and always obey. Haha, yeah right. I have been taken aback, three times over, by how deeply ingrained personality is from the very beginning. It starts right in the birthing room! While you can guide and steer your children in the right direction so much of who they are is imbedded in their very DNA. Now I see my sister give idealistic advice about my parenting (she is now six months pregnant) and I think, “Oh you just wait!!” Lol.

  79. Katie says...

    My 2 year old daughter likes pink and unicorns, and fishing and riding bikes and making crafts and would kick your butt for looking at her the wrong way. (We’re working on that.) My 6 year old son likes paddle boarding and flowers, would never let his hair grow below his ears or wear anything other than hiking boots. He’d prefer if you never mentioned bicycle again, and he likes to spend his time reading. The only way he’s kicking anyone’s butt is when he’s the hero in his own day dream.
    They both enjoy the newest hobby which is singing a speed metal version of baby shark into the mic on my daughter’s play cash register.

  80. Virginia Galvan says...

    I love this! Before I had a child I silently judged my friends with kids. I didn’t understand that most of it is not up to you, no matter what you do. I thought I would have a chill zen child (ha!) and I have a defiant, wiggly, mischievous, impulsive, clever little rabble rouser. It’s WORK but I have peace knowing that he’s not shy about using his voice. His nos are fierce, but so are his yesses and it’s a beautiful thing!

  81. Meg says...

    I have a teen who also started life with a love for all things fancy. For years and YEARS her only proclaimed goal in life was to be a butler when she grew up. The tail coat, the attention to service, the arm turned out, the formal dialogue – it was hilariously her little heart’s GREATEST aspiration. Although she’s big now, with no plans to be a butler, she has a gift for serving others – so perhaps there’s still a teensy bit of that butler obsessed baby deep down :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      awww, i LOVE that goal in life. right now, toby wants to be a valet parker or a maitre d’ and i honestly think he’d be amazing at both of them. :)

  82. I just love their different little personalities. Toby with his fancy loves and Anton with his rough and tumble ways. My eldest, Harry, is a rule follower, through and through. The scariest movie in the world to him is The Polar Express because they break the rules so often IN FRONT OF SANTA. My youngest, Oscar, is a rebel and would love nothing more than to do exactly what he shouldn’t.

  83. HM says...

    My kids were born with personalities for sure. I don’t know how to explain, but I’ve just known their souls since they were born.

    We call our 5-year-old a 55-year-old preschool teacher. She delights in errands, small talk, dinner parties, reading, and holding babies. When she’s around younger kids, she patiently leads them through crafts and activities. She’s been all kindness and empathy since she was tiny. She’s also been an introvert her whole life, and still needs lots of time to herself (like mother, like daughter). She BEGGED for a sibling, declared she and her brother were best friends when he was a few hours old, and that’s been true ever since.

    Her brother, who is almost 2, is just incredibly himself. He settled on a hobby at 6 months old, and hasn’t diverted from it. He’s our little chef—always in his play kitchen, stirring, flipping, seasoning, serving play food. His favorite toys are pots and spatulas (and he brings them everywhere). He could use tongs and silverware perfectly at around 14 months. He’s now starting to dabble in cars & trucks, but without fail, he’s in his kitchen for several hours a day. He’s physically adventurous and a total class clown. His first word was his sister’s name–nothing makes them happier than one another.

    Despite being more or less opposite, I always refer to them as what animal shelters call a “bonded pair.” Can’t have one without the other.

    • O says...

      This is so incredibly precious <3

  84. Catherine says...

    Oldest girl: Mom, chill, everything will work out.
    Youngest girl: MOM! HOW DO MORTGAGES WORK? HOW MUCH MONEY DO I NEED WHEN I’M AN ADULT? WHO HAS THE RIGHT OF WAY AT A 4-WAY STOP? ETC.
    Youngest is 10, oldest is 21.

    • Margoulette says...

      I love your comment!

    • Steph says...

      Oh my gosh this made me laugh until I cried. Younger daughter is my mood 100%.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha your youngest girl is all of us :)

  85. Courtney says...

    My sons are 4.5 and 10 months, and while the little one is still so little, we love seeing his own unique personality starting to emerge, different yet complementary to his older brother. I love watching their relationship grow, and this post has me even more excited for their future together!

  86. Hilary says...

    This is so sweet! And so true. I used to tell my husband that our daughter (whom we didn’t even know was a girl) was tenacious, even in utero. And he swore there was no way I could know that. Cue today…our 2.5 year old will bang her head/body against any wall she cannot scale, any rung she cannot reach, and any goal she wants to achieve until she achieves it. Even if that goal is just “to get all the cheddar bunnies before anyone can see!”

    Michelle Obama said in “Becoming” that her mother did an amazing job of not squashing her feistiness. So to my feisty, tenacious child…may you always be.

    • Sarah says...

      I teared up at the last sentence….isn’t “may you always be” what we all long to hear, as adults as much as kids, from those we love. That is the best thing a mama can give- unconditional love and acceptance.

  87. I was thinking about this so much this weekend because several people (strangers, acquaintances, friends, brand new friends) made comments about my daughter’s personality. She’s our only, and is 3 going on 4, and, well, one of the most sparkling, spunky, FUN people I’ve ever met. Even when she was a toddler, I remember family and friends saying she was like a little comedian; others have said she’s like a living cartoon character. The cashier at lunch yesterday, who’d been watching us eat on the patio (and seeing my daughter jump up every few minutes and do crazy dances or make up different kinds of kisses, like the flamingo kiss where you have to stand on one leg), mentioned how she just has an ENERGY about her. She’s hilarious, not shy at all, creative, and the life of the party! She also loves to read and make up stories, and to tell you exactly what she wants (I love that about her). And one of her favorite things to say is, “This is my body, and what I say goes!” or “I’m the boss of my body!” YES!

    I think we’re one and done (thanks PPD!) but I am so curious about what another mix of our DNA would be like. I also worry that if we ever had another one, she’d be a tough act to follow!

    • Abbe says...

      This sounds so much like my older daughter! We get that comment from people about her energy, too. Such a joy!

    • omg I just read your comment about her being able to pull off “EVERYBODY MAKE SOME NOOOIII-IISSSE!” and thought, “that sounds just like Zadie!” and then saw you responded to mine. love our little firecrackers.

    • Abbe says...

      Love that! So, is it funny that her name is also a Z name?? (Zanna.)
      Go Zadie & Zanna!! :)

    • Yes! I think Z names inject just a little bit of extra personality (pizazz??)!

  88. katie says...

    I have two sisters. Not that long ago, I’ve mentioned to my mom that if she had a “favorite,” you wouldn’t be able to tell. She then told me her secret. She knew each of us were vastly different, and we are, and that she tried to be the person we each needed. I absolutely adore her for that.

    • almko says...

      How beautiful! This sums up the parent I strive to be to my three sons. <3

    • Gill says...

      Mum goals! What a beautiful parenting practice to aim for, and such a lovely thing to share with you

  89. Betsy D says...

    I have identical twin boys that are two now; they are still the same people they were on the day they were born, which is to say completely different. It’s fascinating to me that identical twins would be so different but they are. One is sensitive and silly and his brother is very charismatic and, we always joke, part elf (or imp, when he’s being ornery). Kids just sort of ‘are’ — they come to us from day one with these intricate, unique personalities and I wholeheartedly agree that one of the best parts of being a parent is watching them grow into their personalities.

  90. Erin says...

    My favorite part of parenting….learning who each of these little human beings is. We have a 3rd on the way in a month & I’m so excited to add another crazy personality into the mix.

  91. Louisa says...

    I have an only child, and a friend told me something like “You really should have two, just so you know how much is out of your control.” And I thought “I already know this – I have a brother and a sister.” (My brother is a 6’4″ atheist contrarian in the military; my sister is a debutante southern belle.) But now that my daughter is 5, I’m so curious — it seems impossible that I could have any other child but this one. My bookish, clever, witty, quiet, silly nugget.

  92. Jessica Melindy says...

    “Making people is such a trip” I’d frame this quote it’s so good.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha

  93. Laura says...

    Driving in the car:
    Daughter (3 years) : “Roll the windows down! Weee – this is awesome!”
    Son (5 years): “Roll them up – it’s cold and loud!”

    • Katie says...

      I see you’ve met my kids.

    • K says...

      Mine are each a year older, but have been having that same exchange for at least two years…

    • Heather says...

      Every single time.

  94. Kirsten says...

    Before I had kids I thought kids were moldable, like who they were was largely the result of their parents and environment. Oh boy has my daughter proven me wrong! From birth she’s been super connection-seeking, bubbly, tough as nails and an all around extrovert. I joke that she is part elemental neon. One time I took her into a Gymboree when she was around one, and she immediately began pointing and yelling “WEAR IT” at the flashiest sequin rainbow sweater I’ve ever seen. My gender-neutral, lover of beige/grey/natural tones and calm activities self has really had to do some expansion these past two years. And its fun! I’ve learned so much from her. And now I’m convinced that kids come out pretty much exactly who they are.

    • Em says...

      I love this comment. Thank you for sharing! And I agree.

    • JO says...

      Kirsten, this is my daughter and me exactly!! I think subconsciously I always thought I’d raise a mini-me, but so help me god, I am raising a mini- MyHusband and it has been quite the ride so far :).

  95. Bianka says...

    My two nieces are 5 1/2 and almost 4 and while they’re similar in a lot of ways (creative, sensitive, hilarious), they express themselves in very different ways. The older one loves arts and crafts and everything intricate while the younger one is a born performer and very specific about her productions. I often recognize character traits of different family members in them (they sure are as loud and stubborn as the rest of us…), which is so lovely, but they for sure have had their own unique personalities from day one.

  96. I’ve so enjoyed following along with your boys. They are wonderfully different and the way you, as their mama, are moved by their personalities is the sweetest thing.

    We have different energies in our house, too! My 12 year old son is a stickler for order. He’s funny and silly at times but then has trouble taking a joke. He’s comfortable being alone for long periods of time and even seems to crave it (like his mama). He likes quieter activities, like fishing, and you’d never catch him playing a contact sport like basketball, for example.

    My 9 year old daughter was born a stand-up comedian. Quick wit, dry humor and the ease and calm of a person well beyond her years. She’s warm and observant and has never hit her brother back during a sibling squabble, for fear of hurting him. (My heart!)

    The baby is 8 months old and the fun part is watching her personality open up like flower.

    I love each of them with this hungry, fervor that probably smothers them at times. I’m learning how to give them each enough breathing space even though I want to shrink them and carry them in my pocket.

    Ahhh, motherhood…you are a complicated beast.

  97. Sarah says...

    I’m pregnant with our first baby (a girl!) and this comment section has me SO excited for her to be here. I’m suddenly realizing I’m about a to meet a real person… that I MADE! So overwhelming and amazing.

    • Jessica says...

      It’s pretty bananas. I went thru this 5 months ago with my daughter. I has this strong sense already when she was in utero that her personality was already forming and boy was I was right. It kind of takes your breath away when you watch such a tiny little thing and realize she is a fully formed human, separate, distinct and unique from you.

    • Linsey says...

      Ah, congrats! I am currently pregnant with #2, but I remember being pregnant with my son and experiencing his personality even then. I knew he’d be a great sleeper, love food, and having a silly personality even before he was born.

      Best of luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

  98. Courtney says...

    Toby the Romantic and Anton the Cowboy. I love it! What a wonderful post to share their differences.

  99. Lizzy says...

    My son and daughter are really different from one another, too. People often comment that “it just goes to show, boys and girls really are different!” But I try to remind them that they are also, you know, separate humans with their own personalities. We wouldn’t expect 2 brothers or 2 sisters to be exactly alike, either!

  100. Kari says...

    This is so beautifully written and shows what an attentive eye you have for your boys’ quirks and special nuances, as well as the space you give them to be themselves as another commenter noted. I love hearing about your kiddos and the sweet dynamic you all share.

    Also, the idea of kids being tiny humans with their own unique personalities is just wild to me (in the best way!). I’ve always thought kids are largely a product of their environment, of their parents’ personalities. But Joanna’s boys and the other readers’ comments are incredible testaments to kids coming with their own built in personalities and characters. Blows my mind. :)

  101. brittney says...

    In conversations with my husband about having kids, I have been adamant that I only want one (they’re expensive! I can only do this no sleep thing once!). I just sent him a link to the post with a simple text that read “well, shit.”

  102. Laura says...

    I have two very different kids who are also perfectly complimentary to each other. My 6yo is sensitive, mechanically- and scientifically-minded, a picky eater, and not remotely competitive yet excels at the technique and discipline required for karate. He was born a 65 year old college professor. My 4yo is a ball of fire at home, yet quiet in public, and she is also my sous chef, adventurous eater, competitive yet free-spirited dancer and artist. The only way I can get her to get out of bed is tell her she needs to beat her brother in the “get dressed” race. He’s thankfully “in” on the plan and goes along with it. They get along well though, and generally love to play together.

  103. Sandra S Lashley says...

    Two children, a daughter age 14 and a son, 9.
    Son: “I was thinking about death… and you dying… and it is so so sad”
    Daughter: “oh buddy…death is a part of life”

    Son: anxiety and overall greater sensitivity
    Girl, optimistic, laid back, rarely anxious, breezy.

  104. Liz says...

    I babysat for a beautiful family with 5 children. The first child and third child were as opposite as could be – both boys. The first was serious, respectful, cautious and kind. The third was funny, a daredevil, a bit of an instigator and also kind. One day there was an incident where #3 played a prank on #1, and I had to share it with their mother as I knew she was bound to hear of it. I remember her response clearly, as it was not what I was expecting. I expected her to be upset with #3, but instead she kind of laughed and said, “They balance each other. #3 helps #1 be more playful, and #1 helps #3 be more serious.” Now the mother of three (2 boys, 1 girl), I remember these words of wisdom often – particularly with my serious, sweet first boy and my funny, bit of an instigator second boy. A lovely balance in our family and theirs.

    • Kimberly says...

      My reaction to my children is often exactly the same. I’ve said it so many times- they will each experience life more fully because of the others. My eldest will be more brave because of my second. My second will be a bit less rash. Thank goodness.

  105. MelTown says...

    My kids are all three so different (as are my sisters and I) and it never ceases to fascinate me.

    My oldest, a seven year old girl, is super rough and tumble, a natural athlete, mathematically gifted, very nurturing, extroverted, and very rational and emotionally even, despite struggling with anxiety. She only cares that her clothes are comfortable, and she is always building something.

    My middle, a five year old boy, is also rough and tumble, but very emotional and sensitive and sweet but with a fiery temper. He’s extremely verbal and absorbs facts like a sponge. He cares a great deal about his “look” (and has since he could barely articulate it). He lives in his own imagination and he’s happy to live there alone or with 100 friends, as long as he can stay in the zone.

    My youngest, a two year old girl, is very sweet and chill and go with the flow. She’s all tea parties and babies and pink and glitter. She’s a snuggler, and she’s content to sit and play on her own (but she idolizes her siblings). She loves music and dancing and playing dress up and all the girly things.

    It’s so fun to sit back and watch their personalities develop, but it’s even more interesting to me that I had a sense of their temperaments before they were even born. Making people is such a trip.

  106. Marci says...

    I have three. The oldest, Caroline, has the longest attention span of any child I’ve ever met. Even when she was a toddler we could give her a puzzle, a coloring book or anything and she’d be focused for hours. She is an old soul, but also is always looking for approval, she’s an introvert, wicked smart and is a rule follower.

    My middle is Maggie, she is wild, creative and social. She loves anything sensory. I know if she’s quiet, there’ll be a mess to clean up somewhere. She has all the energy and is exhausting in all the good ways. I often think it’s harder for me to parent her because she’s an extrovert and I’m not. She doesn’t understand why I need ‘alone time’. She has this smile that lights up a room. Her spirit shines as bright as you can imagine.

    My youngest is my son and he’s only two. It’s fun to see how he is a little of both his sisters but still uniquely his own. He loves to help and will gladly do any task you set him on, but DO NOT IGNORE HIM, or he will figure out a messy way to get your attention. At two, there is still a lot of personality to develop so I’m excited to see how he’ll grow into himself.

    • Amy says...

      “or he will figure out a messy way to get your attention”
      Lol! That was so funny!

  107. Eve says...

    My daughter, my only kid so far, is not yet two and I constantly wonder what is her personality and what is “toddler”. I think she’s observant, sweet, funny, and a major bookworm.

    And you know how you reach your twenties and think, who the hell am I? Around that time I asked my mom what my personality was like before I was more socially influenced and she gave me bupkis. Having lots of kids in a short time might do that to a mom. But I’d still love to know!!!

    • Louisa says...

      Eve, THEY ARE THE SAME! This is one of my happiest realizations. My delightful, focused, curious, shy bookworm baby is my delightful, focused, curious, shy bookworm kindergartner. I watch videos from her baby days and it’s all still there. It warms my heart.

  108. Jodie says...

    I’m fascinated with children’s differing personalities. My Son is an “old soul” himself and he came out just knowing things and has a very real questioning of his place and purpose on this planet. At 5 he asked from the backseat “What does it all mean?” That was a fun day…but I also love other children who are lighter than my own, who laugh easily, are spontaneous and float through their lives with only playing and fun on their minds.

    • nadine says...

      soo, the question is: what was your answer?

  109. Marnie says...

    off-topic but did you get a DOG???

    • Kari says...

      Yes update us on the dog decision!!! :)

    • MJ says...

      YES Anton’s dog update please!

  110. Amber says...

    My oldest (5) is cautious and sensitive. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he will chat up everyone he meets.
    My youngest (2) is feisty and short-tempered, but charming. He’s generally moving too fast to stop for snuggles, but when he does…it’s the best.
    But they both are kind boys who love to wrestle and watch movies together. And they adore one another.

  111. Lorraine says...

    My 6-year-old son was born bossy, analytical and wise beyond his years. Maybe he’s also 65, like Anton. He can name all the countries by continent – and now, he can name over 100 PGA golf players – but is a bit of a sensory kid and has yet to catch up on other things like how to wrap spaghetti around his fork…

    Meanwhile, my 3-year-old daughter is rough and tumble, oh so physical, I’m afraid one day she will give me a black eye, sometimes she just pounces on me out of pure love and excitement. She is very extroverted, which balances out her very introverted brother. I agree, it’s amazing how different two siblings can be. I love my kids’ yin and yang.

    • Meg says...

      I loved the phrase “pounces on me out of pure love and excitement.” I can picture it!

  112. Young Directionless says...

    They played restaurant with valet parking, lol. This is so cute.

  113. Jamie says...

    My 13 year old son is serious, calm, funny, sensitive, fair, disciplined, confident, and eager to learn. He makes sure he knows people well before letting them in.

    My 6 year old daughter was born feisty. She is strong-willed, slightly manipulative, witty, gregarious, stubborn as a bull, extremely sensitive, very loving in self-selective moments, and also very eager to learn. She is also shy at first. She loves a good debate- and feels shes always right. We’re pretty sure shes running a company one day.

    This relationship cracks me up, because my son is so serious, and she is so naughty by nature- he can’t handle or understand why she defies the rules and he often tries his hardest to reason the whys of the need for appropriate behavior.

    At the end of the day, they adore each other and I am one lucky mother.

  114. Alice says...

    This post speaks volumes about the space you give your children to be themselves, great parenting at work.

    My sons are 3 and 5.
    My eldest has a fizzy kind of energy: he runs, climbs, dances, plays football, moves all the time and preferably with others, and when he does sit he likes structured writing and counting. He’s got his head in the clouds and is quite oblivious to what’s going on sometimes. He loves pink and the occasional dress, but generally doesn’t care what he wears, as long as he can move (he’s often in leggings).
    The 3 year old has a wild imagination and likes open-ended creative play, happy with or without others. He loves building and patterns but likes to be in charge. He’s a joker and really empathetic. He’s really particular about what he wears.

    They are chalk and cheese but look so alike! I hope to let them flourish in their own way as you have your boys :)

  115. Jane says...

    I have two kids and they also are so different. But I have a theory about how you are raising them different and how that is affecting their personalities: Anton has always had a big brother while Toby has not. I think kids are just much more rough and tumble when they have older siblings because they’ve always been around someone bigger and stronger who they look up to. I have two girls and my younger one is much more of a rough-and-tumble kid. I always describe my younger daughter as strong: physically, emotionally, and a very strong personality, while my older one is much more sensitive.

    • Kelly says...

      i have two similar sounding girls!

      I agree that being a second (or later) kid just gives you a different life all around…I find that as a parent I’m more laid back with my second partly because you have a little more experience but also bc sometimes you’re just dealing with your other kid and #2 has got to wait!

      so who knows what combo of personality/environment created my older daughter (9yo, risk averse to the point of anxiety in certain situations, challenges me with clinginess and lack of desire to be independent) and my younger daughter (3 yo, daredevil in the extreme, challenges me with the crazy physical things she dreams up and her VERY STRONG desire to be independent and keep up with the ‘big girls’ ie her sisters’ friends). I worked so hard to build up my parenting bag of tricks for #1 but they are often not at all what is needed for #2….help!!!!

  116. Cate says...

    The teachers at school call mine “ chalk and cheese”.
    They are intellectually mirror images of each other- on standardized tests one’s strengths are the other’s weaknesses and vice versatility! And yet they are so clearly brother and sister and each is absolutely bewitching in their own way! They are the lights of my life.

  117. ale n. says...

    I love this post! I have a 4.5 year old boy who is incredibly vivacious, the most energetic human being who has ever lived on this planet, super super funny, social and a little reckless. And then I have a 10 month old little baby girl who, we can already tell, will be so much more cautious and observant. Of course we have a long way to go to see what she is like, but they couldn’t be more different as babies. This parenting thing is a wild ride.

  118. Val says...

    Such a great question. My 6 year old daughter is a smart, funny, loving girl. I love that she prefers chess to ballet but still is girly in different ways. She is definitely her mother’s daughter. What a gift to be a parent!

  119. Mel says...

    My 3 year old daughter is all that is girl. She loves pink, and Barbies, and playing Mommy, and dressing up. She’s very sensitive, with her own feelings, and with others. She is extremely affectionate and loving but slow to trust strangers. She’s careful and thoughtful and can play for hours on her own. My Mom and Aunt just spent a weekend here and both teared up a few times saying it was like watching me reincarnate as a child. I hope she becomes at least a little brave like her Daddy tho…

  120. Christina says...

    “I bet he has a paper route somehow” … crying laughing over this!!!
    Maybe it’s time to take Anton to a dude ranch? Start planning a trip for next summer?
    And Toby – be still my heart. Whoever ends up as his life partner will be very lucky.
    Congratulations on raising two kind, sweet, funny kiddos!

    • AN says...

      Thank you for using assumption-free language here! It bugs me SO MUCH when people ascribe “wife”/”husband” to little kids as if it’s a foregone conclusion. You rock! And also, 1000% agree on whoever ends up with both of these rad humans; they give me such hope for our future.

  121. Cara Mills says...

    Thank you for this lovely article. The last picture of the boys holding hands made my heart sigh! So sweet! I grew up in a family of six kids and we all turned out so differently. My older brother followed his passion and lives in Aspen where he fly fishes for a living (managing a fly fishing store and being a guide), whereas I’m an international corporate consultant who loves to travel and was a part of the hardcore punk scene for most of my teens/20s. My own 2 year old daughter is “rough and tumble.” She loves to pull jokes on her Dad, has an artistic streak, and loves to sing her favorite songs out loud while dancing.
    Also, I totally suggest a family vacation in Montana where it doesn’t seem to get more western! It is truly big sky country and I’m biased as a Coloradoan.

  122. This is such a sweet post. I don’t have kids, but I’m always fascinated by the difference between two children raised the same way. My brother and I are also different. He’s way more outgoing and outspoken than I am. It’s so obvious how different Toby and Anton are! Thanks for sharing this :)

  123. celeste says...

    My daughter, 11, is the oldest but she emphasizes “fair” to a tee, counting candy, counting minutes on the iPad, etc., and we’re trying to teach her life is not eye-for-an-eye! I’m almost certain she’s bulldozed school relationships because it “wasn’t fair” in her eyes. Maybe she’ll be a lawyer or human-rights activist. Sigh. She’s chomping at the bit to take the ARC babysitting course (she’s a little kid magnet) and get a cell phone (not until 13 at least).

    My son is all boy. Since third grade, he’s been planning when he can play fifth grade football at school. This year though, he’s realized the “sport” kids haven’t been nice to him, so he’s joining the “playground kids” at recess.

  124. Caitlin says...

    My identical twins are SO different, which is fascinating to me! They’re only 19 months, but so far their personalities are distinct. Lily is my sweet and silly snuggler, who won’t hesitate to bite when she gets mad and loves to learn new things. Cara is my feisty independent babe, who does things on her own time and has a lot of strong opinions and will let you know when she doesn’t like something! So interesting to see nature vs. nurture at work!

    • Heather says...

      With my first child, I read all the books and tried to do all the RIGHT things with my son to raise the perfect child. Then I had twins and within weeks of their birth I was like, Oh, nurture is so in the margins. They are who they are. It was a big swing for me from being the carpenter parent to the gardener parent: I see my job now as really just giving them the right environment to grow. My twins – fraternal girls – are 4 now. At 5 months, J was squeaking with frustration trying to move her body, and she learned to crawl, walk, run, climb, ride a bike, kick a soccer ball into a goal – all of it – much earlier than her brother had and way ahead of her sister. A prefers to sit and listen to a book or music. J is a fearless risk taker: at 10 months she was a terror on the playground, always following her brother up the highest slide, going down head first. A would cautiously – holding a parent’s hand – make her way to a low slide, and then inch down slowly. J takes a few bites of protein and veggies and is done with the meal. A eats slowly, talks to me about smells and flavors, asks for seconds, prefers cheesy things and carbs. J throws theatrical, day-stopping tantrums. A generally rolls with the punches. J loves colors and textures and really enjoys picking out clothes (+ accessories!) for herself and her sister every day. A doesn’t GAF about clothes or baubles. J cannot carry a tune. A loves all types of music, and is often singing to herself with perfect pitch as she moves through her day. J likes to pretend she HAS a pet kitten. A likes to pretend she IS a pet kitten. They have plenty in common and play together all the time, but it’s the differences that remind me to chill out and just let them be who they are.

  125. Kelli says...

    My boys are so similar and I think it is because my youngest idolizes his big brother so much that he takes on all of his big brother’s traits, quirks, like and dislikes.
    I often say to my husband, ‘Who do you think he would be if he was born first???’
    It will be interesting to see how their personalities differ as they make more friends outside of each other.

  126. Sara b says...

    My oldest son (4) is very sensitive, considers other people’s feelings, and really thinks about things. He’ll bring up super specific events that happened months or years ago. My middle son (2) is a daredevil. He climbs on everything, plays super hard, and is the reason we have a magnetic strap keeping our fridge closed. My youngest son (6 months) is a sweet, content little baby who only cries if he’s hungry or his middle brother stepped on him, so I’m interested to see who he turns out to be!

  127. Chrissy says...

    I love Toby’s love of love and romance!

    • Cece says...

      My nearly-four-year-old daughter has been fighting since before she was born. She fought through a rough pregnancy, and a traumatic birth, and her approach to *everything* has been do-or-die ever since. She’s going to be the most amazing adult, a total world-changer who won’t accept no as an answer. But parenting her is often a very intense experience! There’s fire in her belly.

      Our little dude is only 12 weeks but I can already see he’s a totally different soul. When he was born he barely cried, just looked up at me with big solemn eyes. I see now what other parents meant when they said they could rock their baby to sleep in their arms, or talked about ‘drowsy but awake’. He’s also much more physical than my daughter was, his favourite game is to kick against the palms of my hands as hard as he can, and if I hold him standing upright he’s almost always happy. It’s fascinating!

  128. Hilary says...

    Ah this post is so sweet! When I had my follow up with my OB following the birth of my daughter, he asked about her personality. As I described her (so far! only two weeks in!) he said, “the more I deliver babies the more I think they really do come with a personality.” 100% agree! Our one year old is just the sweetest. She seems to be an introvert (loves observing, not very into interacting with strangers or large crowds), but she is so happy and smiley, Our favorite quality of hers is how proud she is when she accomplishes something- she’s a big fan at applauding herself- and we hope she keeps that as she grows!

    • JMarie says...

      I only have an n = 2, but I agree! My husband and I joke that how our two kids came into the world is how they are choosing to live in the world. My 4 year old took his sweet time coming out, had his head turned to the side, and seemed to soak in all of the details of his surroundings once he was earth-side (seriously, he was awake for hours immediately following his birth just looking around). He still meanders around, never looking where he is going, and remarking on the small details of his environment. Meanwhile his two year old sister arrived in the world just seeming to know how to do all of the things. She arrived quickly, had zero problems eating, sleeping on a schedule, etc. –just really seemed to know how to do the whole textbook baby thing. Even now she just exudes a self-confidence when she tries new skills.

    • ANDREA says...

      Agreed. I’ve babysat some very serious infants. Temperament is pretty visible early on.

    • Jessica says...

      My midwife described my daughter as a wise old soul almost immediately after birth. She was bang on.

  129. Sofia says...

    Oh wow I always get touched by the sensitive way you see and write about your boys. I have 2 girls, an almost 5 yo and a 6 month old . So far I feel the baby is more mellow and chilled natured whereas the older one is more on the intense, emotional side. They seem to share the same curious, attentive eye. It’s magic to see their relationship and individual personalities blossom.

  130. Iris says...

    Posts like this make me so happy! We have a 3.5 year old son and are expecting another little boy in just over a month and I am so excited for their fun brother relationship. Your boys are so sweet!

  131. Abbie says...

    “I bet he has a paper route somehow.” Yes. I also believe it.

  132. Becca says...

    My son is sensitive, cautious and focused. He can happily play LEGO by himself for hours. My daughter wakes up early and hits the ground running. She has so much energy! It’s funny because we think of girls being calm and boys running amok. Definitely the opposite in our house.

    • T says...

      SAME HERE!

    • Laura says...

      Same here, as well!

    • Andrea says...

      Yes – my daughter is our “thrill-seeker” and my son is a “chill-seeker”.

  133. Lindsey says...

    i love this blog so much, thank you

    • Christy says...

      My daughter was born watchful and ready to fight if anything isn’t up to her standards. We’d go to the doctor and get her percentiles for height and weight, and my husband would add “99th percentile fussyface” to the list. She’s also had a sense of humor almost from day one. She is absolutely the best.