Saturday, May 7, 2011

To See or Not To See

It's amazing to me how two children with the exact same parents -
Exact same genetics -
can be so vastly different.

This was already obvious to me with Chloe and Tessa.

Chloe - The princess. Hesitant. Skeptical. Moody.
Tessa - The biker chick. Adventurous. Independent. Comical.

But what has made it the most obvious is something I never would have expected.


Right now there is a family of Great Horned Owls nesting in a tree located beside the swimming hole at Spring Lake. It's been newsworthy. In the paper. People are talking.

My friend Wendy told me about it and I thought it would be cool to take the girls to see them.
I pushed past my own personal and possibly irrational fear of birds and thought that it would be good for them to experience nature up close.

Two days ago I announced my plan of owl adventure to them and the reaction I got was completely unexpected.

Chloe's expression went from calm to terrorized in 3 seconds.
Her knuckles were white.
Her skin was clammy.
She pressed her body deep into her chair almost as if she was hoping it would open up and swallow her whole and she would never have to discuss an owl ever again.

"Chloe. What's the matter?"
"I don't want to see those owls."
"Why not?"
"I don't like them. I don't want them to fly out in the air and come by me."

I decided to drop the conversation, until Tessa came screeching into the room shouting,
"I want to thee them! I want to thee those owls! I'll come with Mama!"
and then started for her shoes.

I explained that we were not going right that very SECOND, and she started to cry. She really really wanted to go.
I stifled her with some watermelon.

I thought it was sort of over for the day until five seconds later when Chloe said,
"Mama, when you go see the owls can I stay with Daddy?"
"Mama, I don't want to see owls at night."
"Mama, I don't want to see owls in the morning."
"Mama, Who else will go with you to see the owls?"
"Tessa, you and Mommy are going. I'm staying with Daddy."
"I don't like the owls."

When we left our friend's house later that night, as I buckled her into her car seat she said with sleepy half opened eyes,
"Mama, NOW are you going to see the owls while I stay at home with Daddy?" This was hours and hours after the initial conversation.
Enough with the owls.
I wish I never mentioned it.

That night, before bed, we said her usual prayers with a special request that I pray that no owls would enter her room, or her dreams. That God would miraculously erase all owl awareness from Chloe completely.

To no avail.

She spent the entire night in our bed from 2:30 on because she was having
"owl dreams" and didn't want to stay in her bed.

I couldn't figure out what the problem was until I realized that to a four year old the name Great Horned Owl could actually sound pretty frightening.
Her little mind imagining some 30 foot monster with horns and a sharp beak coming at her in the dark and swooping her up then coughing out her skeleton.

I wouldn't want to go see that either.

Tessa, however, was the exact opposite.

When people would call on the phone, she'd ask to talk and one of the first things she'd mention were the owls she was going to see.

"Hi Auntie Witha. We going to thee owls."

Basically, Chloe wanted to picket for complete eradication of all owls worldwide and Tessa wanted to change her name to Owl Green.
That's how different they are.

I have illustrated this difference.
This is what Chloe thinks when she hears Great Horned Owl:

And this is what Tessa thinks:

I guess it's the same in many families. I just think it's so funny.

My brother and I were no different.
He was smart and sciency, drawing blueprints for inventions on napkins at restaurants and I was doing, well, COOL things.
Fun things.
Things that didn't get me thrown in school trash cans by thugs named Branch.

But really, I wouldn't want them to be the same.
Two Chloe's would be more mood swings than one family could handle.
Two Tessa's and no man would be left standing.

Our differences are what make us unique.

Today we drove to the Lake.
I got the girls out of the car while Chloe yammered off questions.
"Where are we going?"
"Have we been here before?"
"What's that big hole?"

I told her we were going to look at the lake.
When we got close to the lake, I told her we were going to look at a tree.
When we got by the tree I told her that we were actually CURRENTLY seeing the owls and "See - That's not scary."

I held my breath.

Then she smiled at me and said,

"I wasn't scared. I was just kidding. When can we come back?"