It’s fairly evident on any given day how different Son1 and Son2 are. Musical taste, activities, clothing preferences… the list can go on. The way they manage money is an extreme study in contrasts.
Son1 was a rap star in a past life, or maybe a pro basketball player oozing street cred. In his mind, he is a god when it comes to creating hip hop, sweet talking the ladies, and livin’ large. We have a hard time getting through his head that, “Peace homes… chill” is not the appropriate way to sign off the phone with one's grandmother. And you know how many home boys kick it in STX lacrosse T-Shirts or Umbra soccer cleats.
Son2 need only be placed on an island with six fellow castaways and a coconut radio for it to be clear he is the Professor. He also must deck the house out for every occasion with such zeal I call him Marcus Stewart. We are continually stuck in a dizzying array of elaborately engineered seasonal displays. I don’t mean just the biggies like Christmas or Easter. St Patrick’s Day is a festival in the playroom, and I think he’s planning Summer Solstice 2011 décor 6 months ahead.
But of all the times of the year that I marvel at the differences of two children raised under the same set of rules, there is nothing quite like Christmas to spotlight the chasm. Here are but a few conversational highlights to show Son1 and Son2 are about as in synch as Nancy Pelosi and Anne Coulter:
On the subject of presents for their older sisters… Where do you want to go for Christmas shopping?
The highly-frugal, crazy-methodical, and intensely-crafty 10yr old (Son2):
Can I have $20 and go to 5 below? Or maybe a craft fair. I can always find something there and can really stretch my money. Or if you take me to Michael’s, I can spend the money on supplies to make twice as much. I can make them earrings, or a necklace. How much do I have? I’ll need a lot.
Money you mean?
No, time. I’ll need a lot of time in the store to find the perfect item. You may need to take me to the other Michael’s too. We’ll have all afternoon, right?
(You see, Son2 has to look at EVERYthing. Every item in inventory at least twice to be sure he doesn’t miss a thing. Tomorrow is shopping day. Just shoot me now)
The high rolling generous to the brink of insane 12 yr old (Son1):
Well, I want to get them sapphire diamonds. BIG ones.
Um, honey, they are 2 different stones. That’s very generous.
Ok, well one necklace or whatever for them both that has a really big sapphire and some diamonds. Then I want to get T an Xbox360 and for A, a flat screen TV. For (her husband) L, flat screen too.
Again, very generous. Ya know T’s 40 next month, and I think her kids have Xbox already, but very nice. Nice of you too on the flat screen for A&L.
No- one for A and one for L. He should have his own.
Ok, what about D, your sister T’s husband?
Oh yeah, I may have to borrow some money.
NOW? NOW you think you may be over budget?
I really need to start the Christmas baking…
Cake Boss meets Nate Berkus Son2:
Oh can I help? I want to decorate the cookies! Can we get that white icing stuff in the bag to draw those really neat lines? I want to draw snowflakes on cookies. But they all need to be different.
And then we can do some with that sugar in the colors. Maybe like 2 dozen of red, and then green, and then blue. Some chocolate chips would be good, and then some peanut butter ones. And then we can make those rolled up cookies you made last year.
OF COURSE he wants me to make those rolled up cookies. They’re from a Hungarian recipe from my mother in law and take like 16 hours to make, back from the days when peasant women had days and days to cook and bake. And massive arms apparently to obliterate 10lbs of walnuts into dust.
And I always wanted to bake and build a real gingerbread house. Should we make it open on one side so we can decorate all the rooms with candy?
Aim high, kid, aim high.
Attention span of Flea Son1:
Can’t we just use that plastic tub of dough? Or go to Kings?
Of course, even in convenience he picks Kings or Whole Foods where the same cookie dough is five times the price.
At least the schedule isn’t as crazy this year. Last year was a zoo with meetings for Daddy or me each night …
All about a ferstive and cozy home Son2:
I was thinking, we should light a fire every night and you can make real hot cocoa. Do you know how to make marshmallows? That lady on TV did. We can put a different movie on each night.
Sorry kid, your mom’s not the Barefoot Contessa. You notice he’s a little fixated on from scratch?
All I want is PlayStation Son1:
Can we just get pizza one night and watch a movie. Like Transformers?
That’s not a holiday movie.
Alright, what about that one where the kid wants the rifle but he’ll shoot his eye out, and the mom is super stressed and the dad yells and the crazy dogs take the food?
A Christmas Story? Or are we simply talking home movies?
And our final example: It’ll be nice to be home for Christmas, then visit your sisters …
Always up for decorating Son2:
That’ll be so cool! Do you think they’ll each let me decorate some stuff at their houses? You know you have to get ready for the Three Kings. A lot of people don’t realize you should make the place look festive for them too.
What have done for me lately Son1:
Why can’t we all go down to Florida and rent big houses next to each other and hang out and swim all day then go to restaurants at night so you don’t have to cook?
Well for starters, I do like to cook, but more to your point, flying 11 people to Florida and renting homes isn’t in the cards this year. Maybe I can try to get some tickets from points for a trip next year.
Fine. Then we’ll do it next year. But make sure you book at least me in first class.
You aim high too, Son1. Aim for the Christmas you so richly think you deserve.