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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ode to the Second Child

Little H is eleven months old now. How that happened, I can't fathom. He's been home with us for eight months, but it feels like a lifetime. He has the funniest little personality and knows what he wants. Thank goodness what he wants is to tail around behind his brother. Because that's all he gets to do. We're either taking his brother to and from school or play facilities, keeping him from eating his brother's toys or being pummeled by his brother (playfully, of course).  He is truly the second child. Give him a view at the front door and a toy to chew on and he's set for twenty minutes.

I finally noticed him signing "milk" a few weeks ago. I thought he was waving to me as I was helping Little W build a train track... but here he was patiently asking over and over again for milk.  Helloooooo negligent mother! I was so happy to see him using words to communicate, I nearly forgot to give him the milk he asked so nicely for. D'oh.

This breakthrough got me thinking. I taught Little W so many signs. But as I sat with H and his requested milk, I couldn't remember a single one. What else was I forgetting to do with H that I did with W? Once W was home and healthy, I fretted over every milestone and taught him so much. I read Leaves of Grass to him as an infant, for flip's sake. By the time he was eight months old, I had read all seven Harry Potter books aloud to him (ok, I read them for myself but I read them aloud so I could read while he was awake. Remember, we couldn't take him anywhere that first winter, to protect his premature lungs from germs so I was climbing the walls). I taught him about 12-15 signs and gave him baby massages almost daily. He had every developmentally appropriate toy on the market.

Exhibit A: Here I am photographing him leaping off of the couch, head first, onto his brother's fort instead of trying to catch him.

I've caught him doing things I would have never let Walt do at his age. He tries (and succeeds on rare occasion) to sneak up the steps. He has gotten away with eating dog food. He prefers to play with wooden spoons and remote controls and dog ropes and the front door rather than developmentally appropriate baby toys.

What's that Henry? You want a baby treadmill? Say no more. I'm sure the 50 year old stadium seat (possibly full of asbestos) will soften your fall. Just try to fall to the left, please.
I wonder if I'm not so far up H's butt simply because he's the second child and my hands are more full, or because I'm a weathered parent and I realize that it's really, really hard to break a baby. An attentive, loving parent really has to work hard to mess a baby up..Especially Little H. He's built like a brick sh*t house. He'll still be a smart, independent member of society even though I didn't read Walt Whitman to him as a six month old. I'm nearly sure of it. But just in case I'm wrong, I'm going to set time aside to read to my little guy some more. And I'm going to teach him all the signs that I taught Walt. Maybe he'll learn them, maybe he wont. But the point is, I'm spending my time engaged with him. I may still find him crashing through the gate and tearing ass up the steps. I might still catch his brother playing way too rough with him. I may still let him play slam-the-front-door-against-the-wall for twenty minutes every evening so I can prepare dinner. But it doesn't mean I love him any less than my first born. It just means I'm a mom doing the best I can. Yeah, ok. I'll go with that.

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