Sunday, May 31, 2009

Two worlds, one house

I exhale loudly as I load the umpteenth load of the day into the washing machine. Anna is in her usual position - approximately five inches away from me, formulating her next barrage of questions. How does the water get into the washing machine? Why do we need to the put the soap in? Why does the soap go into that part of the machine? Can she taste the soap? No? Can she smell it? Why is it greenish?

I get the cycle started while finishing this round of Twenty Questions and Anna goes off to draw for a while, momentarily satisfied in her quest for knowledge. Rachel sees her opportunity and heads right for me with a serious look on her sweet face. I brace myself as she places her hands on my shoulders and leans in to share a secret. "Stumatruntrun," she informs me, "means 'you're a girl.'" I raise my eyebrows, expecting further explanation but none is forthcoming. She dances back to her play kitchen, singing to herself about a princess who could only go in her castle if she was wearing a purple nightgown. Planet Three-Year-Old seems like a lovely place.

Virtually from the moment Rachel was able to move of her own volition Dan and I have marveled at how different she was from her sister. The past year has highlighted these differences more than ever as they attended the same preschool. Rachel tends to indulge the fantasy part of her brain much more than Anna does. While Anna is at the sensory table, touching, smelling and trying to sneak a taste of sand or rice, Rachel is playing dress up and having imaginary conversations. Anna will pepper her teacher with questions about how something works, why it works that way and how soon she can do it herself. Rachel wanders off during lessons to sing herself a song or make up a game.

This is certainly not to say that Anna is not creative - her artwork speaks for itself and I am planning a post to highlight her latest drawings. But even in her creativity she is goal-oriented. She wants her elephant drawing to look like a real elephant; she wants to make sure the eye color is correct if she's drawing a specific person. She enjoys mixing colors and seeing the outcome but it is usually because she needs just the right color to make something more realistic.

Rachel does touch down on Earth occasionally and is suddenly (now that school is out for the summer, ha) showing tons of interest in learning the numbers and letters she hasn't yet mastered. And just when I thought she was never paying attention to the stories I read her, she started opening those books and spewing out whole sentences from memory. Of course she's reading them to imaginary students but I am not complaining. She just always seems to be having so much fun. And getting to witness it all, so am I.