I’m An Individual

There is a funny scene (many actually) in Monty Python’s Life of Bryan. Bryan calls out “you are all individuals,” and the crowd calls out “yes, we are all individuals.” Bryan then calls out, “you are all different,” and all those listening chant, “yes, we are all different.”   One man calls out, “I’m not.” Of course, in an ironic dry way which is classic Monty Python, they are mocking group dynamics and the herd mentality. While we all pride ourselves on our individuality, we are often judged as a group or in comparison to others. 

My wife and I have two children. The boys are two and a half years apart. They have a lot in common – both are silly, have brown hair, occupation therapy issues, and love hot dogs.  The children look alike and people have even confused them for each other.

Being the youngest of four boys, people often compared me to my brothers. As parents, it is natural and oh so tempting to compare your children. Well, despite my experience, I do fall into the trap of comparing my children. Why isn’t he walking now? His older brother did.  Why does he have to be so anxious? His younger brother is so easy going.  Well, I know why. Despite having the same genes, they are individuals and so different. 

This afternoon those differences were on display. We took a family trip to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. We were there for two plus hours. My older son was fascinated and enjoyed many of the displays.  He stared at the fish, chastised my wife for not being more kind to the insects, and happily went through the touch tunnel. My younger son quickly grew bored. Few of the displays interested him all that much.  When he occasionally engaged, he would grow frustrated. He was ready to leave within the first hour.

So, while we may have nurture in common, our nature remains specific to us.  My children are perfect examples of this.  They both can stand up and say, “I’m an individual.”  I just wish they would both sleep late.

4 thoughts on “I’m An Individual

  1. Interesting and intriguing: trying to figure out what is attributable to nature and nature, and what happens when both are involved.

    I remember having a discussion years ago with my students about whether our personalities and temperaments are determined by nature or nurture. I remember making an analogy to our noses. I said something like this: Our noses, size and shape and such, are genetically determined (nature), but if someone punches you in the nose a few times it can get re-shaped for good (nurture). I think our personalities, as we grow up, are subject to the same collaboration! I think the kids got the analogy.

    So, have you discounted the possibility that your younger son may have just been a little too young to enjoy the science center in the way the older one did? It might be interesting to bring him back there in 2 1/2 years and then compare.

  2. Sounds like the family had a great time at Liberty Science Museum. We’ve taken the kids there twice with both family and friends. Much to do for all ages. I’m sure the boys would enjoy a ride on the Ferry as well. Was hoping to read a blog about the Great Wolf Lodge. I guess I’ll stay posted 🙂

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