I’m thirty-four years older than Dylan, but he’s the far better bike rider. He rides in a naturally athletic standing position most of the time, and at the nearby dirt track he looks like a miniature version of the big boys in their BMX suits, his legs easily adjusting to take the hills and jumps like a jockey on a galloping horse. Dylan can spend hours by himself on his bike, popping wheelies off the end of the driveway and practicing his ability to lay down a strip of black from his tire when he comes to a screeching, nerve-wracking, perfectly-timed halt millimeters in front of some immovable object.
In comparison, Riley rides with his butt glued to the seat, his entire body held rigid. He does not quite give off an air of grim concentration, but it’s close — he enjoys riding, but he never loses himself in the sheer joy of it like Dylan does. You can see the effort it takes him to steel up his nerves before the first little jump at the track, as though he’s flinching his way into it. “Oh crap, here it comes again,” Riley’s brain seems to be saying. Meanwhile, Dylan’s brain is clearly replaying every Red Bull video he’s ever begged to watch on YouTube.
Riley is more cautious where Dylan tends to barrel forward with total abandonment. But Dylan is enormously shy, so much so that he can’t respond if a stranger says hello to him. Riley chatters to anyone who’ll listen, to the point where he sometimes reminds me of that character on Kids in the Hall: “Onions is all I eat!”
Dylan likes jigsaw puzzles, while Riley’s never lost his Lego obsession. Riley would sit saucer-eyed in front of the television all day if you’d let him, Dylan gets bored and wanders away after fifteen minutes or so. Riley loves to draw, Dylan has exactly zero use for crayons and pens.
I sometimes worry about how Dylan will do in kindergarten next fall. His ridiculously short attention span, his utter disinterest in making friends … what will it be like for him to sit in a classroom for hours at a time? Then again, I sometimes worry about sensitive, inflexible Riley, and whether he’ll be bullied or picked on.
I remember when I first learned we were having another boy, and how I felt a helpless pang of sorrow over the fact that I would never have a daughter. Part of me thought, stupidly, But I DID this already! I wanted a *different* experience!
How foolish, right? And yet five years later, I’m still somehow amazed on a daily basis that two boys raised in the same house who are only two and a half years apart can be so wildly, magnificently different from each other.