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After eight years of post-high school studying of psychology I can list the stages and phases of developmental theories with my eyes closed. I can list the ways my children “should” develop and why their personalities are a certain way at specific age groups and how long each phase “should” last.

But each time one of the little personalities of my children blooms into something new,  I am amazed.

My oldest is strong-willed, analytical, sensitive, and mischievous.

My second is blooming into his own comedic self with an open heart and hugs for everyone and a determination to be self-sufficient at just two and a half.

I can see the trends setting in with the two of them and how their temperaments will level out.

But my littlest one, my almost one year old, she is something else. She has so much more learning to do, so much more developing. I awed at this age with my other two and it I awe at it now with her.

The way her eyes spark with mischief right before she takes off crawling toward something she shouldn’t have. The way her smile turns up the right corner of her mouth first, just like mine, when she is amused by her brothers. Her defiant shriek when she is not allowed to have a small toy or grab the dog’s fur or eat a book. Or how she giggles with sheer and simple joy when tickled or playing peek-a-boo.

But these moments are levied with the reminder that I play a critical role in the development of her little personality, that I am sculpting and forming all my children into the people they will become. Yes they make their own choices in life and learn from mistakes and their own emotions, but I must show them how. It is up to my husband and myself to teach them how to react appropriately to anger, to sadness, to disappointment. These little personalities depend on me to show them how to be kind and to help others.

Little personalities are a big responsibility. Failure is one of my biggest fears and this is something I do not want to fail.

So I pray. I pray for guidance, patience, and wisdom to allow them to develop their own way, that it is not just my way that is the right way or the only way and that they will be better people than I could be and do more than I have ever done.

And I sit back and watch with wonder as another individual personality is formed. And I thank God one more time for these little personalities that teach me just as much as I teach them.

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