They may have their individual quirks and “every baby is different,” but if we’re going to be perfectly honest, newborns don’t have much of a developed personality. Instead, while there are glimmers and glimpses leading up to it, I’d venture to say that a kid’s personality doesn’t really start to emerge until right around his or her first birthday.
It’s right around this time, on average, that the child will likely achieve a number of major milestones. She’ll take her first steps. She’ll learn to utter more than a small handful of words, possibly even combining them into rudimentary sentences like “want milk.” After several months of eating solids, she will have already started to display certain table manners or food preferences.
It’s around this age that she starts to act and look like a real person.
Whose Child Is This Anyway?
The normal assumption is that the child will exhibit some combination of the parents’ characteristics. We often talk about the physical attributes. She has her father’s eyes. He has his mom’s smile. And it seems like it would make logical sense for this to extend to the kid’s personality too… except it really doesn’t.
Neither her mother nor I are especially high energy people. Prior to parenthood, we’d be perfectly content curling up on the couch to watch a movie. With this erratic blur of vivacity bouncing off the walls, leaving all sorts of chaos in her wake, we’re constantly on the brink of exhaustion. Maybe all parents are.
Playing with All the Kids
The shopping mall near our house has an indoor play area for young children. We take Addie there on a fairly regular basis. For the longest time, she kept to herself, with only fleeting moments of interest in the other kids. One day, someone flipped a switch.
All of a sudden, she was remarkably outgoing and she hasn’t looked back since. Many people have commented on how she is “not shy at all,” happily greeting just about anyone and inviting them to play. While other toddlers may cling to their parent’s pant leg, cautiously backing away from the unfamiliar, she’s the exact opposite. If anything, she strives to be the center of attention.
It’s just all a little odd, because both my wife and I generally display more introverted qualities. I’ve never been any good at small talk and I always feel awkward in informal, unstructured social settings. I don’t get it. Where is this extroversion coming from?
Nature or Nurture?
Of course, I still see elements of me and her mother in the kid’s personalty. As far as I can gather, my daughter and I are both terribly afflicted with FOMO. She doesn’t want to miss out on anything, which can sometimes make bedtime especially challenging. She also has a wildly vivid imagination and loves telling stories. I’d like to think she gets that from me.
She can also be overwhelmingly selfless, generous and sweet, just like my wife. She has become very good with sharing, sometimes to a fault. If she gives one dried cranberry or one cracker to one individual, then everyone else must also get a cranberry or cracker… whether they want it or not. Everything must be fair and equal.
At the end of the day, Addie may indeed have some elements of me and her mom, but she is most definitely her own person. And she is certainly not afraid to assert herself.