Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas Morning- A Personality Inventory

I'm a total sucker for personality inventories: The Color Code (Red-Blue!), Love Languages (Acts of Service- if you love me, you'll do the dishes), RIASEC Inventory (Social all the way)... My best friend and I can have entire conversations based upon the "Color Codes"of others. (eg- "So my new neighbor is a total Red. But she's married to a Yellow- you can imagine how that plays out.")

I've spent vast amounts of time analyzing my own children and trying to figure out which categories they fall into with the different inventories. But on Christmas morning this year, I discovered a personality inventory that puts all others to shame for, in opening their Christmas presents, the true personality of each of my kiddos manifested themselves plainer than the nose on Rudolph's face. Accordingly, I've developed "The Christmas Morning Personality Inventory" with the following categories:

"The Grateful Receiver"- Carter
Carter's Christmas wish list this year consisted entirely of books. I'm not kidding. Like 20 books, many of them hard-t0-find and spendy. But when a child asks for books, well, you give him books. From "How to Get a Five on the AP US History Exam," "Preparing For the AP Physics Exam," and "Tonal Music"" to all things Tolstoy... Carter received each of his gifts with sweet gratitude and excitement. He immediately cracked open each book upon receipt and proceeded to ignore the rest of us until it was time for him to open another present- er- book. Of course we threw in a few surprises not on the bibliophile's list (Chia SpongeBob, Peanuts Christmas CD, etc.) and he was equally gracious about receiving these. But then it was back to the books. Just like in his every day life.

"The Gusher"- Taylor
Tay is certainly the most fun to shop for because I know she will be THRILLED with each and every present she receives. Never fail, she will jump out of her seat and gush about whatever it is she has opened- "Wow... an electric blanket! How awesome! This is great! I didn't even know I wanted one of these!" or "No way! Brainetics! This was at the top of my list! I totally wanted this so bad! But I didn't think you'd be able to get it! This is the best Christmas ever!" Each of these gift-opening events is followed by big hugs and kisses to the giver. You can see why it is so gratifying to give to this child. She's a gusher- as is her way with life, she opens it all with gusto and expresses her joy and gratitude to the fullest. Every family needs a gusher.

"The Introspective Receiver"- Tanner
Tanner is the exact opposite of The Gusher. No matter what gift he receives (from the remote control helicopter he'd been dying for to a brand new bike he begged Santa for), the giver must not ever hope for a demonstrative display. That is simply not Tanner's style. He receives everything with a quiet intensity and a softly whispered acknowledgement: "A remote control helicopter." As if to say, "Oh, of course, a remote control helicopter. Exactly what I'd been wanting. Of course." He then proceeds to open the packaging and read all instructions and become completely absorbed in that task. It can be underwhelming to behold. But underneath all that introspection lies Tanner's easy-going security. He seems to lead a charmed life, and is secure in his confidence that the universe will give him exactly what he wants. Or, if not the universe, perhaps he just knows that he has both parents wrapped around his charmed little finger.

"The Joyful Giver"- Sydney
When it was time to open family presents, Sydney was beside herself with excitement. Not for unwrapping all the gifts with her name on them, mind you, but because she could not wait to give out the gifts she'd gotten for everybody else. "Can we open mine first?" she begged. "Well, we need to take turns so each person opens a present," I replied. "No, I mean can we have everybody open my presents to them first? Pleeeeease?!?" Uh... okay. And, despite the fact that we had the kids draw names for their siblings, Syd had a gift for EVERYONE. For weeks, she would come home from school and ask for wrapping paper so she could giftwrap a present for somebody. I figured she must be drawing pictures or making things at school for her siblings. Au contraire... as we opened Syd's presents, we discovered the true source of her gift-giving: The Lost and Found. Yes, we each received something that Sydney found on the bus, left behind by some poor child who is probably still looking for his mittens! But if anybody in this family is getting to heaven based on good intentions, it will be Sydney. She loves nothing more than helping and caring about everybody else. She is so sweet, so sincere, and so earnest in all that she does.

"The Suspiciously Brave-Faced Observer"- Bailey
It is not in Bailey's nature to be thrilled for others when they are opening a gift that she herself would like to possess. It was torture for her to watch others opening their presents on Christmas morning, but -shockingly- she put on the bravest of faces. Through gritted teeth and a painfully tight smile she would say, "Oh Sydney, you got a Liv doll! That is so great for you!" or ""Wow, Riley, you got a LiteBrite! That is very happy." Time and time again. It was almost hard to watch. I kept waiting for the cheerful facade to crack, but she held to it and was eventually rewarded with a Liv doll and LiteBrite of her own. But that's Bailey for you- she's a scrappy little fighter, suspiciously watching to make sure things will go her way and perfectly willing to duke it out if they don't. Yet she has days where she tries oh-so-very-hard to "be nice for Santa and Jesus." And, trust me, it is NOT an easy task for her. She is lots of spice with a dash of sugar, and she definitely gets an "A" for the effort!

"The OCD Opener"- Riley
For Riley, the joy of Christmas morning was less about opening presents and more about promptly disposing of the wrapping paper. She took great delight in throwing away all gift wrap and was completely determined to do so before she would allow herself to even really look at her gift. I have more video footage of Riley cleaning up after her Christmas presents than I do of her opening or playing with these presents. She even picked up after her siblings! To each her own. She's a funny little thing. This is my child who lines up all her crayons in a certain order before she colors. When she does her homework, she not only circles the right answer, but insists on crossing out all the wrong answers as well. She likes things to be "just so", and once she has an idea of how things should be in her head, she stubbornly sticks to it. With the chaos of six kids in the house, a little OCD is a breath of fresh air!


Casey Gentle said...

I love your inventory. Isn't it funny how each child is so different? I love it. And I have a "gusher" of a nephew. It can be the worst gift ever and he'll be so thrilled. Miss your family but so glad you're keeping up with your new year's resolution.

Holly said...

I love the color codes! That is so funny about Sydney and the lost toys...Tell Carter I am reading Tolsty...I started Anna Karinina about 1 year ago...and I am about half way...(can't even spell the name of the book:)
Love you mucho

kelly said...

oh kelly how i have missed your stories, i could live on them!!!
light brights and dolls, what a blast!
you have always been into your inventories, it's so interesting but so labeling! although i do love your labels of each child! and i love carters footy pajama's, does he ever think how did i get to be the leader of this brood of siblings or he just retreats to a book:)?
love you love you and thank you thank you!

kelly said...

i read this one yesterday, new one please!
just kidding i was looking to see if my comment posted!

nikki said...

I am so so grateful for your new years resolution that blesses my life by reading these posts. I feel like I know the kids so much better and you made me smile. this christmas I missed having little kids around the house and had to grieve that part of my life is over (until the grandkids come). I love and miss you guys ... thanks for posting.

Julie K said...

Okay, I laughed out loud about 6 times during this post. I mean OUT LOUD. My unattractive donkey laugh, as opposed to my polite, mannerly laugh. The donkey laugh only comes out when I'm REALLY tickled. And the loudest laugh? For Ms. Bailey. I can totally see it in my head!
Loved all the psychological insights--you know I live and breathe the color code!

Erin said...

I've never actually thought about it that way, but my children definitely have unique Christmas morning personalities, too. Hmmmm...I wonder if it is too late to assess them...I think adulthood has changed Charming's Christmas morning personality so much that the assessment wouldn't even be close to what it was even 5 years ago.

Taylor said...

It's true- all of it, even though 75% of my presents consisted of blankets, sheets, and pajamas. On my fourth pair of pajamas I was groaning the inside, but it turns out I needed them! It counts to be courteous!

Mindy said...

I am shocked at how much they have grown! Wow! And Tanner lost his front teeth - they are all so cute! How is life out west

Bunch of Bradys said...

I first thought it was you and Quinn on the couch with the kids. My how Carter and Taylor have grown! I still think of them from when we last saw them:)