Thursday, May 17, 2007

Temperament

To most people, the Orange Bowl is a stadium located in the city of Miami, but in our house it is the only proper container for Zachary's breakfast. Lunch and diner must be served on orange plates as well and, of course, all beverages must be served to him in an orange cup.

Our first three children weren't so particular and number five is looking like he will go the way of his oldest three brothers. No, the other children are far from being particular. It sometimes drives me batty just how un-particular they are--particularly in the way they are so unflinching about dirt and messes and sloppiness of all kinds. We were at our wits ends for a time there, trying to teach these boys basic hygiene and common decency when it comes to leaving things lying about...

...and then along comes Zachary. What a breath of fresh air to see a child concerned about cleanliness! Suddenly, I didn't feel so alone in the war on dirt. He likes to have things orderly and well kept. He likes clean hands, dry pants, and combed hair--a child after my own heart.

What I didn't expect was that there would be a downside to this fastidiousness. He is so particular about cleanliness that he will sometimes change his clothes five times in a day. To his credit, he does put his "dirty" clothes in the hamper, but this child is a major contributor to the laundry monster. Also, he can sometimes be distressed about messes when it isn't so convenient for me, like when we are out and about and I don't have a change of clothes for him.

Realizing that a natural temperament that inclines one toward tidiness has its own set of challenges has really helped me to see the blessings of the other four's more relaxed approach to life. The others may be called back to put their wet socks in the hamper, but they won't be insisting on meals served on any particular color any time soon and neither do they mind staying late to see the fireworks even if they are grass stained and covered in ketchup and chocolate.

13 comments:

Ambrose said...

My friend has a son like that. We call him Adrian Monk!

Theresa said...

I hate to say it, but that would drive me totally bonkers! Maybe that's because I am more like your other sons!LOL!

Kristen Laurence said...

Madeleine is this way, too, about cleanliness, though she hasn't asked me to change her clothes yet. I like it. My dining room chairs are always pushed in! :)

Michelle said...

Is that an IKEA bowl?

I think 3 year olds are the worst when it comes to clothing changes. Jenny drives me nuts.

But it's my Billy who prefers the orange bowl.

Suzanne Temple said...

Michelle, Yes, it is IKEA. Is that the ONE Billy prefers? Too funny. There must be something special about it.

Jen said...

Suzanne -- there's a great book by a Catholic therapist named Art Bennett about the temperaments and how to deal with them/appreciate them in your family: yourself, your spouse, and your kids.

The book is called "The Temperament God Gave You"; Amy is reading it right now and she says it's great -- way more helpful and practical than that little pamphlet on temperaments and the virtues. If nothing else, it's an enjoyable and enlightening read!

(Amy's 2-year-old John sounds like your Zachary. He now stops in the middle of crying for something to ask for a tissue; he won't begin fussing again until his face is clean!)

Suzanne Temple said...

Thanks jen! That sounds like a great resource. I went through a temperament kick many years back, reading all about it, but it has been a while. I bet I would enjoy that book.

Margaret in Minnesota said...

You've just described my daughters. I have even been asked to transfer the contents of a glass already poured to a more aesthetic container.

Is it worth "winning" an argument with a two-year-old?

Can one win an argument with a two-year-old?

Hang in there. Zachary will be your right-hand, household man when he is older.

mel said...

WHat a blessing he might be to a wife someday! lol...You know, if he does his own laundry.

T with Honey said...

I couldn't leave a comment on your Ascension Thursday post so I'm leaving it here. Thank you!!!! I kept thinking it is Wednesday and I TOTALLY would have forgotten to go to mass tonight. THANK YOU!!!!!

Aimee said...

I have the same issues with The Boy! Although I know that many of them stem from his sensory processing disorder, I think he also has that kind of temperament as well.
We do the best we can to harness his power for good - like dusting the furniture and wiping tables :)

Beck said...

I would want that orange bowl, too. It's very pleasingly orange. My Boy is hyper-fastidious as well - if something is in his hair, for example, he freaks out and needs it washed. But on the other hand, he often wants to wear the same grubby t-shirt for days on end (not that he's allowed to)...

Mary Poppins NOT said...

My sixth child is that way, only it must be the green bowl and plate and cup. Must be green. We comply as best we can, but sometimes he just has to eat off of a yellow or orange one. He's learning to deal with it.