Maxen Turns 4

My younger son Maxen turned 4 yesterday. We had some family over. I realize we are felons now.

Max is my puzzle. My boys fit a common pattern of families with 2 sons. The older one, Zak, is the sensitive type. The rule-follower and pleaser. I can relate to that child well because I was one. But the second son’s personality is a mystery. He is more destructive, stubborn, and manipulative. Birth order effects in play. He’s more advanced. But what’s plain is Max ends up the center of most of our stories.

He’s been known as El Chapo amongst our loved ones for years. And his total obsession with Thanos and asserting his will on the universe is par for Max. He’s a brute. He is so physical with his older brother. And Zak would never hit him back. Zak would cry from frustration before lashing out.

You get strange glimpses of our nature as people when raising such different kids. Max has a devil’s smile. People gravitate to him in a way that Zak doesn’t quite receive. Zak is such a happy kid. A goofball. A pleasure to be around. But Max evokes more emotion. Like you want his approval. Like you can’t wait to see what he does or says next. My mother finds his personality so magnetic and it’s partly because of his wicked streak.

I think one of the great joys of being a parent is watching how these puzzles unfold. I always use the Chris Rock line that with Max I’m saving bail money not college money. It doesn’t seem fair to me that Max sparks so much interest from others relative to Zak despite not being as nice. I think back to when Max was born and we’d send him to the nursery so Yinh could rest in-between feedings. All the nurses warned us of his will. His Hyde-like nature would come out as he screamed for his next feeding. This animal has been nothing if not consistent.

Don’t let that smile fool you.

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