The Truth About Apples and Oranges

Anyone who has more than one child knows how vastly different one child can be from the next. My son and my first daughter are nothing alike. They resemble one another slightly physically, but other than that, they could not be more different. Nothing displayed their differences more clearly than their school experience.

When Gavin started school, it was a constant struggle. It wasn’t a lack of intelligence, more a lack of attention and lack of application. He simply didn’t care if he did a good job or not.  We were constantly in dialogue with his teacher about what kind of rewards might motivate Gavin to positive action. The nightly homework assignments were dreaded by Aar on and I as much as by Gavin. It often took an hour for Gavin to finish his assignment with constant supervision by us and he still usually had to do it over several times because he had rushed and it was illegible. I can only imagine the struggle his teacher had to get him to focus!

Being that Gavin was our first child in school, we didn’t really realize just how much more work he was than the typical child. Yes, we knew he was difficult, but, well, I guess we figured that all kids were somewhat difficult at that age. But then it was Arabelle’s turn to go to kindergarten with the same teacher. Wow! Did that put things in perspective!

To be fair to Gavin, Arabelle herself is quite the exceptional child. For everything Gavin is in difficulty, Arabelle is in ease. She has a genuinely sweet temperament and is always thinking of others before herself. She is a definite people pleaser and she is much less active than her brother. That being said, Arabelle’s entrance to the school world was quite the eye opener.

After a month of school, Arabelle received the “Star” award. Only two kindergarteners out of more than a hundred students were chosen for their exceptional behavior. Gavin had been in school for two years and we had never even heard of the award! Arabelle’s teacher remarked that she wanted to clone Arabelle and have a classroom full of Arabelles for Christmas. And, on the homefront, homework took about five minutes, did not need to be supervised and was almost always done correctly the first time around. It was great!

I am pleased to say that Gavin has finally turned a corner half way through second grade. He now brings home a stamp every day for good behavior just like his sister. His work still shows the effects of lack of care and rushing to get back to his Batman games, but still, there has been some growth in that area as well.

I have to admit, as proud as I am of Arabelle for doing so very well, I am even more proud of Gavin because I have seen him fight and claw his way against his personal instincts and desires. He has overcome. Arabelle did what came naturally to her. Gavin had to go against his very nature.

I guess my thought for the day is, as a parent, make sure you are comparing apples to apples and not to oranges. If I were to compare Gavin to Arabelle in this department, Gavin would always be lacking. But that simply would not be fair. I can’t compare my apple to my orange just because they are both fruits. They have nothing else in common outside of that!

It is so easy to slip into comparison between children. As a parent, I find that I need to continually remind myself that, not only is that not healthy, it is not fair. I need to take each on their own and compare where they are with what they are capable of and where they could be, not with where their brother or sister, or my friend’s child, or where the little boy down the street is at.

I wouldn’t want a world full of apples but no oranges, or vice versa. I am so very glad to have both!


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