Mark Terry

Monday, August 30, 2010


August 30, 2010
I've been thinking about my youngest son and the three friends he hangs out with the most. In their own way they're all great kids, but they also have distinct personalities, so distinct in many ways that they seem like they can be a primer on personalities in fiction. They are:

The Schemer. The Schemer (as my oldest son calls him) is clean-cut, polite, and brilliant. He's the one I worry about the most because "the schemer" is exactly the correct term for him. If Sean and him are out doing something, it invariably escalates into something ... uh ... well, it's like them asking if they can go swimming down at the lake (The Schemer has lake access) and I say sure, and I go down 30 minutes later to check on them to find them in the middle of the lake on the inflatable kayak, wearing life jackets, swimming. Um, not what I had in mind, guys. Or hooking up the recycling bucket to the skateboard and pulling it behind the bike. Or getting hold of two cans of spray paint and painting the bike ... and adding duct tape to the tires ... or... well, you get the idea. The Schemer's brain is in constant overdrive (we once described him to his father as a 40-year-old endocrinologist because of some of the sophisticated things that pop out of his mouth) and "what if..." often becomes reality.

A.D.D. A.D.D. can't sit still. He's constantly active, whether it's racing cars on foot as they drive by the house, swimming, biking, climbing trees, whatever. My son is one of the few kids who can keep up with him, although he tires of their always having to do what A.D.D. wants to do. My wife and I think he's a good kid, but he can be sort of mouthy and he's the world's pickiest eater. We gave up accommodating his eating habits a year or so ago and pretty much say, "We're having this. If you want to stay, fine. If not, we'll see you later." He also doesn't stick with things much, although soccer and being a drummer seems to be working. But not much else has, including basketball, swimming, guitar, trombone... (Also, the mouthiness seems to be fading. Hopefully he's growing out of it, because my wife and I were getting tired of staring him down and suggesting he go home).

The Vidi-It. This is a really sweet kid. He has a twin sister and he's being raised by two women. He's mellow, accommodating, eats anything, very laid-back, but the only thing--and I pretty much mean ONLY thing--he's interested in doing is playing video games. If we don't kick them outside when he comes over, they'll play video games nonstop for 8 or 10 or 12 hours... and vice versa.

Sean. Well, all-American kid, sometimes. A little internal, but he can be very social. A natural athlete, he's moved from super swimmer to cross country. His sax teacher calls him a genius. One of our friends asked us once if there was anything he tried that he didn't succeed at. The truth: not so much. Needs to be prodded to read and get better grades in classes he doesn't like, especially if they're before about 10:00 in the morning. Tall for his age, long blond hair, blue eyes, we think he must have been switched at birth. Sort of a Babe Magnet, although he's mostly oblivious. I'm fairly sure he won't be in a few more years. Very sweet with enough attitude to help him survive the world. I suspect he's a chameleon, because there's a subversive nature to his personality that we see that I don't think his teachers and friends' parents see.

How about you? Any personality types in your area?


Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

I had this one student who was a Master Manipulator. She was a bit of a liar, but not in the sense that she always HAD to lie. (I had a parent like that. Even about stupid, silly little things, she HAD to lie. It was a compulsion. Remember the Nordstrom's $100 cookie recipe? She had to tell it to me as if it were true and it was HER story.)

Back to Master Manipulator: Every. Single. Word. that came out of her mouth was rooted in how to get her way. She was almost a bully, except she could do it without making it obvious. Of course, she had ulcers in fourth grade, and it was literally tearing her up inside. And her mother did not realize how much her daughter lied to her. It was constant. She would lie to her mom in the waiting room, then come into the lesson and tell me she just lied.

I think I was the only person in her life who she couldn't lie to. I'm just sorta good at that, for some weird reason.

I really did like her. I was sad when she and her mother got into a discussion about piano, because then she had to lie to her mother, and then piano lessons were over. I was mostly upset that she no longer had a space in her life where she didn't and couldn't lie. I hope she's okay.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I bet teaching piano you saw all sorts. When I taught piano I did, too. The most memorable I'd probably call TWITCHY. Great kid, very smart, but his parents put so much pressure on him to perform at everything that he had all these nervous tics and twitches. I did my best to try and make piano fun and take the pressure off.

9:09 AM  
Blogger L.C. Gant said...

This post cracked me up. My 3-year-old is definitely the A.D.D., although sometimes the Vidi-It side comes out as well. We don't allow him to play video games(yet), but he sits and watches the Backyardigans like it's gospel. If I let him, he'd sit there all day.

It's astonishing how defined a child's personality is at such a young age.

9:40 AM  

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