Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I thought the baby in the family was supposed to get babied...

When we decided to have a second child, we swore we'd do everything the same way: we'd narrate everything that was happening so he'd develop his vocabulary, we'd have the same bedtime routines, we'd give the second as much attention as we gave the first. We knew it'd be tough, but we felt like we owed it to the second child.

It wasn't tough.

It was impossible.

This became glaringly apparent to me when I looked down at Aidan Kai last night, hair still wet from his bath, pj's on, Mickey socks on his feet, holding onto the refrigerator with one hand to keep himself steady while he held his bottle with the other hand. This is how, very often, my second child drinks his evening bottle...on his own as he wanders around the house, alternating between crawling, cruising, playing, and sitting, lugging his bottle with him. This is often when I make the lunches for the next day or clean up the kitchen. This does not even count as multitasking; this is simply taking advantage of your child's ability to do something on his own.

My first child? Bedtime bottles were part of The Ritual. In fact, it was the last bottle he was weaned off of after 18 months simply because I was not ready or willing to stop giving him a bottle at night. I felt it was the only thing I had left of his babyhood and I treasured holding him in my arms at the end of the day, watching him as he slurped up his milk. I enjoyed the bedtime routine.

The second child? Poor thing...after he has dirtied up his pj's crawling and scooting all over the kitchen and living room floors, and finished up his milk himself, one of us scoops him up, attempts to read him a book or two, and plops him in the crib after a kiss and a hug...all while mentally wondering how much longer this could possibly take. Now, I endure the bedtime routine.

I could say I feel guilty about it, but most days I don't. (Okay, I admit it: there was a definite twinge last night when I looked down at him and saw him standing there, sucking on his bottle, looking up at me so expectantly.) The truth of the matter is, he doesn't seem any worse for the wear. He is a happy, jolly, tough little kid. He is, in fact, the complete opposite of his high-strung, type A, sensitive older brother. (Hmmmm...maybe devoting all of your energies on a kid is not necessarily such a good thing?)

Older brother? Never climbed on stuff. The house was fully child-proofed. There was someone watching, guiding, teaching all of the time. Baby brother? Climbs on top of everything: his brother's bed, the step stool, his toys, the toilet. Yesterday we found him sitting inside a kitchen drawer. The house is barely child-proofed and there is someone watching, guiding, teaching only some of the time...on a good day.

The neat thing is that Aidan Kai is pretty resilient. You can see it already. Yesterday he fell head first off of his zebra riding toy (climbing, see paragraph above), and he just kinda lay there for a second, then got right back up and went about his business. If that happened to Ben? Well, let's just say that he never would've climbed on the zebra to begin with.

The truth is, I kinda like that he gets into stuff. (I know, I know...that statement's gonna come back to bite me in the ass.) It's kinda fun to see this little boy who figures things out for himself, who can find a way to move 3 of Ben's giant toy bins out of the way so he can get to the one toy that he wants that fell behind them. When left to fend for himself (figuratively speaking...I mean, we're not neglecting the kid), he can get into, onto, under, and behind almost anything. He has no other choice. His older brother is constantly trying to run the show and circles around him. Aidan has already learned, as so many of us second children do, that sometimes he has to take matters into his own hands. And he does. All the time.

So yes, my second child is definitely not getting the same attention my first one did. But maybe he's getting something else. He's already figured out how to stand out amongst this family of Alphas. He's learned how to problem solve. He's learned how to entertain himself and how to get a rise out of Mom, Dad, and especially Big Brother. He's learned how to make us--and himself--laugh. He's learned how to keep himself busy and happy. He's learned how to bounce back--sometimes literally--from all the messes he's gotten himself into. And we already know that he's learned how to feed himself a bottle of milk at the end of a long day.


  1. It IS amazing how different the second one is treated. I had major guilt over it for a while, but like you, I'm realizing he's a happy, well-adjusted little lad, even without (or is it, because he's without) the constant laser of parental attention and freak-outery.

  2. As I only have the one I wouldn't have first hand experience with this - but I've witnessed it in other families. Makes me kinda wish I hadn't hovered so much over him. Though he's grown into a fine young guy - he still likes to be taken care of - no real independence there.

  3. I can definitely relate. Poor Luke definitely gets the short end of the stick in our household but he's so HAPPY and the babying we give Hannah just doesn't seem to bother him one bit. I think HE actually babies her! It's just what HAS to be done... we just can't give full attention to both so we give it to the one who seems to beg for it more which interestingly often is the older one. I AM however still giving Luke a bottle at 16 months before bed though.. and I will hold onto that as long as I can!

  4. found you from one of my followers and now following you.

    first off - i am much more lax and give my 2nd way less attention than i did my first b/c i just don't have the luxury anymore and she is a wonderful happy baby. her older brother sounds much like your son. if we knew then what we know now!

    also loved u kept bedtime bottle til 18 mths. my daughter will be 1 yr in 9 days and i can't imagine her not having a ba-ba. she doesn't even hold it herself, she's so small and tiny. maybe the daytime bottles i'll take away or maybe only the afternoon ones. just morning and night. I DON'T KNOW! it's hard!

    great post!

  5. Yes. Yes. and YES. Now, adding a third and you can only imagine. I have found my third on top of the dining room table. She can basically feed herself a meal at the ripe old age of 11 months. Her 5-year-old brother is still the neediest of the bunch. And our almost-4-year-old has been the cliched middle child since before her baby sister was even born.
    We all do the best we can. And we can't know what it's really like until we jump right in. So, intentions be gone. Keep doing what you're doing. Your kids? They are all RIGHT.


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