What having children teaches you about yourself

I’d like to show you something very revealing about my personality.

This is a small portion of my desk at work:

Need a writing implement?
Need a writing implement?

Notice anything? Anything spring to mind? Anything?

Why yes, I might have a pen or two. Or, more likely, around a hundred, with almost no duplicates for style/color/ink type. I have more in my desk drawer. Really. I also have a larger collection at home. Really.

I love variety, especially in color. I love having today be slightly different than yesterday. I love rainbows and bold hues. I think my general taste for adventure and a kaleidoscopic life most clearly represents itself in my love of colors, which most clearly represents itself in my love of exciting writing implements. This is not an aspect of my personality I’d thought much about. I figured that the poor sods with one or two Bics on their desk were too broke to get real pens, or were trying to show off their grownupness, or possibly developed emotional attachments to their pens. (I have certain pens I always use for certain tasks — I figured that’s similar.)

Then I met my son Grey. A while back, we bought Grey these awesome LED nightlights. They come in 8 standard colors, but there’s a setting where you can make them morph non-stop between different colors. I can tell you in a heartbeat that’s what I’d choose, because it’s like not even having to make a choice, like getting them all in constant of variety. I would’ve loved that. So OBVIOUSLY that’s what Grey was going to pick, right? Right? I mean, who wouldn’t? Or at least he’d pick a different color every night, if the movement made him quesy? So teal and then pink and then green and then yellow?

No. That’s not him. He likes the green colored lights. Not the changing, not the pink or the red. Not the white or the yellow. Just green. Every night.

OK, I reasoned, maybe he like comfort and familiarity at bedtime. That makes sense, I guess.

Now I’ve spent time watching him make art. He picks his marker. Often, it’s black, gray or brown. Then he draws with that one color, for the whole drawing. And then the next. He doesn’t color (as in make things colors) ever. He draws. Monochromatically. I can always tell what he did himself vs. what he was “helped” with. Does it have more than two colors? Someone else made him do it.

After long consideration I was forced with a realization: Grey is a different person than I am. Shocking, no? He’s made out of parts of me, was created within my own flesh, has never known a world without me in it. But yet, where my desires blossom out into an infinite appetite for color, he is content with one, the same, not lacking.

I suspect that when he is a grownup, if he has a desk, it will have one or two pens on it. They’ll likely be black, or maybe blue. It won’t be because he’s unaware that there are other colors, but because he does not desire other colors. It is, I have learned, not a universal desire.

This may not seem like a big thing, but it helps me understand just a tiny bit what it means to be human. We truly, really, do not all desire the same things. What is my chief delight may not delight you at all. This is good to hold on to, that we may understand others are not wrong, but only see the world differently.

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3 thoughts on “What having children teaches you about yourself

  1. I am on my third set of those colored pens from Costco. Three sets. I don’t like the light colors — hard to see on the paper. I love the dark rich colors — jewel tones — I love those. I like sparkly pens. I like metallics. I like late afternoon — with its really rich colors when the sun is lighting the trees. We are all different — like a rainbow. I love that!

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  2. Ok, I burst out laughing when I saw this picture. I remember that at one point you said that someone you work with asked you to use “more professional” pens. I had no idea what on Earth that could have meant, but *now* I know! 🙂

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