My two-year-old son, Tyler, amazed me as I watched him methodically stack his Legos by color and number. Tyler also displayed his keen organizational bent whenever we played his favorite game, Categories. When I called out a word such as "lion," he'd cry out, "tiger!" Then me: "um uh giraffe!" Tyler refused to quit until my brain got fuzzy, and he'd triumphantly win our game.
So when Child Number Two, Aimee, came along, I tried playing Categories with her. But if the category was food, and I called out "cake!" she'd follow with "birthday party!" then "Andrea!" (a friend who'd had a recent birthday). Free association was more up her alley, as was anything to do with people and parties. Find a tangent, and she'd fling herself headlong after it.
Our third child, Elisa, emerged contemplative, moody, and quiet a far cry from her mother and siblings. At age two, she told us she wanted to go hot-air ballooning and climb the 14-foot-high rock wall at an athletic store. And ever since viewing the Olympics on TV at age three, she's called an old parade ribbon her "gold medal."
The same personality traits I first noticed back in diaper days still are very present today. Aimee, who as a newborn beamed at strangers, now at age 11 must budget her allowance for gifts for all her friends. Fifteen-year-old Tyler's incredible organizational skills help him understand mathematical equations and research complex issues for school projects. And Elisa? I have no doubt one day she will, after seeing photos of a remote place in National Geographic, catch the next flight out. (Now four years old, she's already scaled that climbing wall.)1