You can get with this, or you can get with that.

I love the car commercial in which the hip-hopping hamsters sing the Black Sheep song “The Choice Is Yours.” You know the one: “You can get with this, or you can get with that. I think you’ll get with this, for this is where it’s at.” They sing the song as vehicles–some cool Kias, the others makeshift mobiles, such as toasters, washing machines, and cardboard boxes–pass by with hamsters inside. It’s a humorous commercial on many levels, but drives home the ad’s message that the Kia Soul is the vehicle of choice.

I wish all decisions were that easy to make. When kids are involved, the choices are not so clear. The choices you made for one might not fit for the next child, despite the children’s sharing a last name, a bedroom, or the same set of chromosomes.

I’m finding this to be the case with my two younger kids–both boys, but the elder, a brunet, couldn’t be more different at times from his fair-haired younger sibling. The younger tries hard to be like his older brother, but there are differences–not toaster vs. Kia Soul differences, but significant ones just the same. These differences become more prominent when the younger one tries to keep up with his elder brother. For instance, although they’ve never been in the same school at the same time before, the little one is following in his brother’s footsteps by attending the same schools, but with slightly different results.

Yesterday my little one took a test to see if he could be placed into the advanced math class at his new middle school, thereby bypassing sixth grade math. Well, not only did he struggle with the test, he didn’t finish it, pretty much putting a cap on his chances of getting into that class, a class his brother breezed into.

He looked so dejected and overwhelmed at yesterday’s orientation, too, that he later even questioned why I put him in that middle school over the neighboring school where 90 percent of his friends are going. (He completely forgot, apparently, that the middle school choice was his.)

His closest friend attending this school was not only missing from the orientation, but hasn’t even called my boy since baseball season ended more than a month ago. They were quite close up to that point and then suddenly communication broke off, most likely because we didn’t pursue a travel ball team that the friend’s family did.

I know the newness of the middle school experience will be trying for a while and that B will get used to it, but, still, I can’t help but think that I should try harder to make choices for this youngest child of mine based on something other than the fact that they worked for his older brother or his older sisters. I need to make choices because they are right for him. Specific him. Individual him.

Despite what the hamsters may think, there are times when the toaster is a way better ride than the Soul.

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