At one point I probably would have assumed that with six kids in the house, at least two of them would be very similar in personality and outlook. And of course, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some shared attributes and interests among my children, but by and large they’re all wonderfully unique and quite different from each other.
Those differences were put into perspective a while back over a conversation on one of our family favorite films, WALL E. It started when M, age 3, began talking about the movie, describing the plot quite accurately. He then asserted that that the robot WALL E, the main character, “Loves EVE because EVE has a spaceship, and WALL E doesn’t have a spaceship!” He was in earnest – which probably says a lot about him and the fact that he would love anyone who possessed a real spaceship. But the conversation quickly spread, with nearly every child having their own staunch opinion on why WALL E loves EVE. None of them agreed with each other, and none were able to fully convince each other.
N, age 9, thinks WALL E loves EVE because she’s the most beautiful thing he’s even seen.
A, age 8, is convinced that WALL E loves EVE because she’s really clean, and WALL E spends his days surrounded by a planet full of garbage.
H, age 8, asserted that WALL E loves EVE because he’s lonely and has never had anyone else to spend time with.
G, age 4, thought for a long time, and eventually admitted that he doesn’t know why WALL E loves EVE.
Over the following days they tried convincing each other. N pointed out in response to H’s theory that WALL E has a cockroach who seems to be his companion. Therefore he can’t possibly be so lonely! The conversation went back and forth but none of them really changed their opinions.
And as I think about their stances, each of their theories is fully consistent with their individual personalities.
M, as a young boy who’s is fascinated by cool things like spaceships, and would love anyone who owned one. Therefore he assumes WALL E feels the same way.
G is the sort of boy who doesn’t like to make mistakes. If he’s not completely certain of a fact, he’s likely to avoid taking any stance.
H loves people, despite some social anxiety when meeting new people. She doesn’t like being lonely, and seems to empathize with how sad WALL E must be on a planet without anyone to talk to.
A really dislikes cleaning, but he also really likes it when things are clean. It’s a weird dichotomy, but that’s who he is. So to him, living in an absolutely filthy land would be terrible, and seeing something sparkling clean would be truly wonderful.
N likes girls. Granted he’s only 9, and so it’s really quite innocent, but he does notice when girls around his age are cute and has had a couple of minor crushes over the past few years. Liking someone who looks nice makes a whole lot of sense to him because he’s had that sort of feeling on a small scale.
Obviously opinions on the motives of an animated robot can only show so much about the personalities of a few children, but it’s fascinating how distinctly different their responses are and how clearly they illustrate some aspects of my children’s personalities. Because they’re wonderfully different in so many ways, and I look forward to seeing those differences develop and blossom as they grow older.