Tag Archives: Children

I Never Said I Was Good at Math

Of all the hurdles I thought I’d have to face as a parent, I never thought homework would be the one to trip me up the most, causing so many tears and leaving some of us flat-faced on the floor. When will this nightmare be over?

When I was a kid, I came home from school and did my homework. It wasn’t until high school that I remember writhing in pain as my dad tried to teach me formulas and pre-calculus while my eyes rolled back in my head and I bit my tongue hard to keep bad words from spilling out.

I despise math. I could not sit in a chair long enough to listen to anyone explain it because I did not care about it. Yet, somehow, I managed to survive it. I thought with the repeat of my college algebra course that was the end of it. No more. Hallelujah! The only math I’d see was for simple household measuring, grocery shopping. My word, someone has put a curse on me and given me children who sometimes need help with math. And I have to be the calm one.

Occasionally I check my son’s homework. Not always. I look at those long division problems and three-digit multiplication and know it would take me all night to work it out in my head. I don’t have time for that. My son does well in math. I glance and figure it’s OK.

Yesterday I got out the calculator to check up on him, just to make sure he wasn’t struggling. He got four of those big multiplication problems wrong. He redid the first one—992 x 91—and got the same answer. He did it again, same answer.

“Well this is the answer the calculator says. You’re not doing it right,” I told him.

Mind you, I didn’t take away his dinner or tell him he couldn’t have candy for a year, but the rolling on the floor and fussing that ensued would have made you think so.

He did the problem again and he got the same answer. His mechanical pencil mysteriously “fell apart.” I worked the problem on the calculator again. It had the same different answer I got before. Then I worked the problem on paper and got an entirely different answer from any of them, but it was closer to his.



This was not looking good. Are calculators sometimes wrong? I use this calculator for work, for important things. I’ve used this calculator since college. This calculator gave us an answer that was nearly 60,000 off. I thought the answer seemed strange but who am I to question a calculator?

We went to the computer and got the same answer I got on paper. The calculator was wrong. My son was wrong. I was right. What is wrong with this world when you can’t rely on a calculator to check your math?

My son had only missed two problems and not four. Our calculator could not be trusted. And I guess that meant that I could not be trusted in my son’s eyes. I guess it also meant I’m going to have to start working all those problems out the long way. Or maybe he has this multiplication thing down good enough.

calculators make quick work

Am I smarter than a calculator?



Filed under Family

Lost in the Parking Lot, Parenting Realization Sinks In

As we walked away from the sea of cars and into an even bigger sea of people, I realized I hadn’t taken note of where we parked. Hmm. “We crossed over one grassy median and then up onto the sidewalk past another lot. We’ll find it,” I thought. And I figured we would find our van. When I’m alone, I rely on my memory to bail me out. For as much of a planner as I am, I can be remarkably spontaneous when it comes to finding my way.

After our day at the zoo, the kids and I made our way back into the parking lot. It was much more crowded than when we arrived. We made our way to where I was sure I had left our van, only it wasn’t there. My daughter piped up with her mental notes. “We walked four rows,” she said. “We’re not here. We’re over there.” While I still pondered why my vehicle wasn’t in the row I was sure I parked it in and began to wonder whether it had been stolen, my son had an obvious solution. “Just hit your remote button, Mom.” And that’s when I realized I can’t pass for a figure-things-out-as-you-go kind of mom if my kids are the ones figuring it all out.

We walked a few rows over and my daughter was right. Our van was across another median, four rows of cars.

I thought about this on the drive home. No wonder the kids roll their eyes at me, especially my son. When they’re young, the kids put us parents up on a pedestal. They think we know everything and I certainly never told them otherwise. If my son started asking about planets or primates, I regurgitated every random fact I knew. What I didn’t know, I Googled and told him later. I was a bit of a show-off. And then around third grade, my son started to doubt me. He started to think his teachers knew more about his favorite book characters. He didn’t believe I could help him with grammar, even though my job is correcting others’ mistakes. Then he started to believe his friends. He’d believe things that came out of their mouths over mine.

Now my kids see me do stupid things like forgetting where I parked the car. So they know I don’t have all the answers, I can live with that. But the time is near when they’ll think they know more than me. If you’ve ever heard a ten-year-old explain life at the dinner table, you know you can’t afford to lose that credibility.

While I thought I could redeem myself after the parking lot incident, I took the wrong road out of the zoo and ended up on some rural back roads. The kids would have never known, but while I was recalculating my kids’ perception of me, that cocky GPS navigator was loudly recalculating every wrong quarter mile–increment I sped away from her intended route.

My kids know I’m human. And I knew I couldn’t stay on the parenting pedestal forever. But I just can’t lose points in parking lots.


Filed under Everyday Life

A Bedtime Story for the Ill-Behaved: Mad Toys

Many of you liked the story ideas I had in Bedtime Books I Wish I Could Read to My Kids. Here, I took my favorite idea and fleshed it out. Hope you enjoy. (Just know I’m not responsible for what happens if you do read this story to your kids, unless it’s good.)

Sunlight spread across the floor like spilled paint. Molly started to stretch. She smacked her lips as if her mouth were full of bits of sticky cotton. She tried to roll over and felt her scalp being tugged violently back. She tried to soothe her burning head, but her arms wouldn’t move. She tested each limb but it bounced back like a yo-yo.

Molly opened her eyes and saw the bizarre crime scene she was starring in.

Her feet were tied to her bed with hair elastics and they were turning blue. She tried to lift her head to make out the shadowy figure moving near them, but her hair felt tightly wound. Twisted braids formed knotted ropes to her headboard. Her wrists were bound with something, tiny pants? Doll clothes!

Getting ready to carry out an evil plan

Getting ready to carry out an evil plan

“Mom,” whispered Molly through the dryness of her mouth. “MOOOOOOOOM!”

“Oh good,” a voice answered. “She’s awake.”

Molly’s favorite Barbie doll took quick, tiny steps toward her. Molly knew she must have been dreaming. She would have pinched herself if she could get her hands to her face.

Her toys had gone nuts. The 200 inch-high Tiny Tots she owned marched toward her with straight pins. Robots aimed slingshots of Legos at her face. And her closet door rattled as if something were trying to escape. Where had she left Suzie Walks-a-Lot? Where? In the playroom like usual? No. Think, think. In a feeble attempt to clean, she threw her in her closet last night. Dear God. If that three-foot doll got loose, she would for sure be a King Kong monster that Molly couldn’t fight off.

Barbie waltzed toward her. “I see you’ve taken in the situation, Molly.” She couldn’t get over the snip in Barbie’s voice and the sneer on her face. She was all business even though she wasn’t Professional Barbie. Surprising. “Barbie, haven’t I always treated you well?” Molly thought.

“I can read minds, Molly. And no, your other toys and I, we don’t think you’ve treated us well,” she said. She sat on Molly’s waist, long, rubbery legs extended over her side. “You leave us out on your floor for days. When you run into your room, you step on our faces with your hard shoes. Some of us are missing pieces. Sure, you hug us from time to time. But we want to be with our families at night, in our warm cases, our beds. It’s cold out there half naked on the carpet. Your brother laughs at us, Molly.”

Molly understood. Dolls would get cold. But Legos? Robots? They’re just plastic and metal.

“Legos want to be built with, Molly. When they’re strewn all over your floor, they feel as if they’re drifting in the ocean and they’ll never get each other back. Don’t you kids see that?”

Molly nodded. She kind of did. She guessed she was the shark in their ocean some days.

“And robots, well, they don’t have brains,” Barbie whispered, “but they just feel left out if we don’t include them. Mmmkay?”

Barbie got up. Molly waited to be untied but Barbie just smiled and waved her hand, a signal and the army of toys moved in. Molly screamed. She fought against the restraints.

Mom came running in. “I’m sorry! I’ll keep my room clean!” Molly cried.

When Mom saw the mess, she didn’t seem surprised. “When it’s gone this far,” Mom said, “the only way to stop it is to get rid of everything.”

For once Molly didn’t argue. Mom untied her and they quickly stuffed Barbie and her entourage of Tiny Tots, robots, Legos, fairies, and more into pillowcases. No toy went down without a fight and they had pinprick and Lego block battle wounds to prove it.

It took both of them to wrestle Suzie Walks-a-Lot to the ground. They tied her up with doll clothes and hair ribbon.

“If you can keep your room clean for a month, maybe you can get some new toys,” Mom finally said, wiping her brow with Barbie’s dress.

Molly thought about it. “I think I’ll stick with books.” They were far less dangerous.


Filed under Fiction

Apparently, Growing Up Is Normal

I wasn’t going to write another post like this because too many are like this. But some days I look at my kids and I’m overcome. They’re taller. At 10 my son no longer looks like a little boy. He’s something in between now, and every day he amazes me with this new maturity, this new level of knowledge that allows me for thirty seconds to feel as if I’ve done something right in parenting. Then just as quickly he switches back to barely being contained in his own skin. I swear he’d jump out of it if he could. He’s still the boy I remember who wants hugs and plays with action figures and jumps on his bed. He still needs to be reminded to change his underwear. He still doesn’t listen when I tell him not to hang on the banister. And he still looks at me when I’m using my serious voice and lets out the kind of burp only a gaggle of ten-year-old boys can appreciate, then fans it away.

Sometimes seeing him walk across the yard with a longer mop on his head and broader shoulders, seeing him laughing with his friends, seeing him take rare initiative, it makes me realize how far we’ve come. He picked up litter from the yard and threw it away, without prompting. When he gets mad, he cools off in his room for ten seconds, this child who used to sink his teeth into me and not let go. His sister is two and half years younger and in second grade. It’s been a tough year for her. Second grade was a tough year for him. I remind him of that, tell him to be considerate of her feelings. “Yeah, second grade sucked.”

“Watch your mouth,” I say.

“It did.” He may not be able to pinpoint exactly why, but he’s certainly been able to console a moody sister. I’ve caught him just being there for her, sitting quietly with her, hand on her back. He gets it.

For her the first half of the year was rocky, just as I remember his second grade year was. Afternoons of crying and yelling and more crying and not many reasons why. I worried about how much she sat doing nothing. Couldn’t she do something? I walked on eggshells not knowing what would set her off. I remember feeling the same way with my son two years ago. Somehow I still didn’t have enough patience for her. I offered games to play, stories to read, but she never liked my ideas. Homework was an eight-letter word.

It feels like our rocky days are smoothing over now. No emotional bombs wait to go off. Suddenly my little helper is back. She’s smiling again, playing school and assessing my reading. She skips everywhere. She stops to kiss me before she runs up the stairs. She took the reins on a school project and she had really good ideas. And I look at her and still see a bit of little girl in her face, but she’s growing too. How did she get to be so big?

While I was so busy being annoyed and exhausted, dumbstruck and distraught over what’s been going on the past few months, my kids knew what they were doing. It’s all been normal. They were growing, inside and out.


Filed under Parenting

Lessons From the Fish Tank

For my son’s tenth birthday, we bought him a fish tank for his bedroom. He has only begged for one for years. After having had fish in a fishbowl for four years, my husband wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of cleaning out a larger tank. My son, like any new parent would be, could only see the silver-scaled lining.

He did his research, knew what fish were compatible, knew just how he wanted his tank to look. He spent as much time preparing for his fish as I did for his impending arrival. Unlike us, he had a choice in what he could bring home, and we made many visits to the pet store before he did. Reminiscent of candy store jars, fish of every rainbow color darted in every direction, making it nearly impossible to choose the perfect ones. It required patience, persistent timekeeping, and gentle persuasion on our part to get him moving in the direction of anyone with a net.

In his room, he stood in front of their new home with dreamy eyes and oohed and aahed over them, watching and laughing like any new parent would. Everything they did was just wonderful. He was relieved when his three-year-old mosquitofish was accepted into his tetras’ school. “Look, he made a friend.” I know just how my son feels.

“Mom, come see where my catfish is hiding! Oh, you missed it. He was in the pirate ship, actually in it!” Oh, that silly catfish.

As it was time to expand the family, my husband happily took my son to the pet store. They came home with brilliant orange platyfish. The guppies bullied one of them. My son hovered. He worried. He felt helpless. “Hey, leave him alone!”

Every day after school, my son has checked on his fish, fed them, watched them. One day I had to tell him a platy died. “I knew something was going to happen to him today,” my son said. Quiet. Tears. It was his fault. He knew it was. He had dropped the bag in the car.

Another trip to the pet store, another platy.

“Mom, one of my fish has spots on it.”

Ick. Yes, ich. A fish disease. Another trip to the pet store. Some blue medicine for everyone. “Hey, don’t touch that guy! He’s the sick one.” Son, now you feel my pain.

It all goes with the territory of being a parent. I think he’s starting to get it. I think now he’s schooled.

Aquarium Inhabitants 05

(Photo credit: Capt Kodak)


Filed under Boy Stories

Some Days, ‘I Love You’ Must Be Enough

The morning game of getting dressed begins with a kiss, a smile, and quickly dissolves into tears, fussing, and a mad rush for the right pants. “What’s wrong with these pants or these?” I say, flinging pairs from my daughter’s drawer. Those pinch, those won’t stay up, never mind that she’s been wearing them for three months and chooses this morning with exactly 27 minutes until departure to boycott all of her clothes. She wants the dirty black pair from the laundry room. Fine. Wear stinky clothes. Anything. Come on, come on, come on!

Finally downstairs, the morning didn’t start like anyone intended. Over breakfast, we sneak a peek at each other. I wink—a truce. I won’t send her out into the world holding a grudge over pants.

Mornings aren’t always smooth in this house, but with raccoon eyes and cereal breath, I plant a kiss on the kids’ heads before they bury them in my soft robe, then run out the door.

After school isn’t much better. In two seconds they undo everything I’ve spent the day doing. They toss backpacks, jackets, and muddy shoes on the floor—and I just swept. The contents of their backpacks spill out, covering the entryway like debris from a natural disaster. “Where do our coats go? Please bring me your lunchboxes! Stop pushing your sister! We have three bathrooms! Stop fighting over that one!” Less than a minute in, I’m exhausted and cranky. I try to remedy it by asking about their day.

afterschool mess

Hurricane Kid, after school.

Every week it’s the same rut, never perfection.

I yell. When I’m busy, I only half listen and mm-hmm in all the right places when stories go on for ten minutes too long. Sometimes I’m the mean girl I want my kids to stay away from. I mention that that outfit doesn’t match or that habit of talking like a baby extremely annoys me. I don’t try to be hurtful. In the seconds after it slips from my lips, I wonder if that statement will be the one to give my child a complex for life. I apologize quickly.

After four farts at the dinner table, I’m not amused. Can’t we just eat for once? My dad and I had this same scenario thirty years ago. I excused myself and he hollered, “There ain’t no excuse for it!” I giggle at the story even now. One day my son will tell our stories and laugh at how they angered me. He’ll describe that instant when my face transformed from the sweet mother who tucked him in at night to mean mommy and back again. Why, when early morning around here is a free-for-all and my kids once dubbed me “Fart Powder” after a book they found?

When girl drama rears its ugly second-grade head, I have little patience. It takes me too long to realize hugs cure a lot. When hobbit adventures and Star Wars battles unfold for repeats, I’m quick to interrupt and fast-forward to the ending. I slam cabinet doors when I’ve had enough bickering. Some days I’m just a terrible mother. Some days start out well enough, but in an instant, I ruin it.

I’m not a perfect mother. My list of flaws could cover our driveway written in tiny childlike script. If mothers were required to fill out applications, I’m not sure I ever would have been qualified. So many others seem to do it better. But the one thing I do get right, always, is letting my kids know I love them no matter what ugly thing may go down. A bad day is just a bad day.

Whether we argue over homework or wearing shorts when it’s 30 degrees out, I still hug my kids, kiss their cheek, and tell them I love them because they should know there is nothing they could do that would ever make me not. I just hope they’ll always love me back. And if they happen to be too cold, well, that’s their own damn fault.


Filed under Everyday Life

Redshirting: There Will Always Be What-Ifs

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about our family’s decision to send our daughter to kindergarten on time, to not hold her back a year and give her an academic cushion. That practice, called redshirting, caused a lot of sleepless nights.

When I wrote the post, I thought only a handful of parents like me would read it, parents searching for someone else’s story. A few days later, “60 Minutes” aired a segment on redshirting and WordPress featured my post on Freshly Pressed. Then and ever since I have been getting feedback. I wish I had read those experiences and thoughts years ago when I was searching the Internet for answers. I thought some readers would want a follow-up now that my daughter is in second grade.

My daughter’s late August birthday, days before the August 31 cutoff, means she is nearly a full year younger than some of her classmates, kids with fall birthdays and others who were held back. The thing is, she was always going to be on the line, the youngest or the oldest. My husband and I had a decision to make when she was four: Could she handle kindergarten now? Yes, we absolutely thought she could.

Without sounding like a bragging momma, my daughter does really well in school. She aces her spelling tests. She reads chapter books and understands the content. She can add triple digits and do math in her head almost as well as I can, which probably isn’t saying much. She’s not the smartest kid in her class but she doesn’t have a hard time.

If we had held her back, I don’t think she would be challenged at all. My daughter doesn’t struggle with her work, but she sometimes has to think about it. Since I have an older son, I know this is appropriate.

She certainly feels more outside pressure this year to do well. She’s starting to notice the nasty world of ridicule and shame when kids giggle at others for performing poorly on schoolwork. There’s a fear of being made fun of if she makes a bad grade. I tell her it’s OK to miss things and that she will. Honestly, I don’t know how this pressure she puts on herself will translate as she gets older.redshirtpic

I’ll never know the what-ifs. What if we had held her back? Would she be more relaxed? Would she worry less? If we had held her back, I’d always think her progress was due to her advantage in age. But right now I have nothing but pride in every single thing that she does. She proves that she doesn’t need an edge to get by.

When every new school year begins, I’ll wonder whether she’ll struggle. I’ll always wonder whether this will be the year that her young age catches up to her. I’ll wonder whether every problem she has is connected to her age. I’m not sure whether I’ll ever stop wondering a little, but she proves to me that she’s developmentally on track every time.

Second grade was a trying year for my son, socially and emotionally. He had meltdowns and a total transformation from a sweet, loving kid to a near monster every afternoon. He’s back to being a sweetheart. If I hadn’t known this, I’d be much more worried now about my daughter during this transitional year filled with moodiness, attitude, and tears. Turns out she’s normal.

Having an older child has helped me see her future. I know that if she doesn’t test into the academically gifted program next year, I’ll wonder if it’s because of her age. I’ll wonder if holding her back would have helped. I’ll know some other kids who maybe had an advantage because of their age, and I’ll hate that for her. I’ll know it’s not a big deal if she doesn’t get in. And I’ll know she’ll be hurt anyway—because I know her.

Her age can never be an excuse, for her or for me. Pushing oneself to succeed is something I was never able to pull off. Watching my kid do it is something I’m not sure I’m strong enough to handle. But my daughter shows me her strength every day. Just when I doubt her ability, she’ll do her work with such ease. I marvel at her attitude and wish it would rub off on me. She is capable. She is smart. And I have no regrets about not redshirting her. My only hope is that my fears never stand in her way.


Filed under Parenting

After 10 Years of Parenting, I’m Still Learning

When your daughter mentions from the backseat that her stomach hurts, throw her a bag and stop the car. That’s all the warning you will ever get.

When your kid who doesn’t like beans loves hummus, don’t screw it up by telling him hummus is made of beans. Keep that little secret to yourself.

Sometimes I’m still not that sharp when it comes to my kids, even after ten years of surprises and managing chaos on the fly. I guess I’m still perfecting my technique.

By now I hoped I’d be much more of an expert on parenting. With a son who just turned ten and a daughter following in his footsteps, I at least thought it would be easier with her. The truth is, I stumble through every day as much as I did when the kids were young. Sure, it’s nice now that the kids can talk about their problems and fears, but those problems and fears are real. They rival my own. They are big. My job has gone from chasing and wiping to tutoring and therapist. I feel like a babysitter who’s been promoted to principal without all of the qualifications, a bit out of my realm.

Sometimes you get your training on the job. And in motherhood, there’s really no other way. Here’s what I’m still working on:

My kids were complex people from the time they were born. I think I had an idea that I could make my kids do things or be things that I wanted them to be, mold them into the dream I imagined. From day one, their personalities emerged. They are who they are. I have to remind myself constantly that it’s my job to help them understand what’s part of them and to embrace it. It’s much harder than I thought it would be to merely guide.

Every bad thing that happens to my kids is not my fault. I can’t take responsibility for a diagnosis. When my kids get sick, it’s not because I am a bad parent. When it’s something more, I hate telling my child I don’t have the answers. When my kids don’t get picked for something, don’t get invited to a friend’s party, or lose something they really wanted to win, I have to remember it will make them stronger. They didn’t miss out because I wasn’t better friends with the other kid’s mom or because I didn’t prepare them better for the contest. It’s about their relationship and their performance.

My kids know more than I give them credit for. I was a kid once. I was capable of handling pain and fear and grief and mean kids. Sometimes I just have to be OK with letting my kids experience the world. I don’t cushion them from the bad stuff, but I certainly worry more than I should about it. I have to remember that mean kids made me tough. I learned to stand up for myself. Tears helped me shed my pain. I learned through my mistakes and my successes. It’s hard to watch my kids mess up and not know the answers, but I know the value of what they’ll learn from it. After all, I’m still learning every day.


Filed under Parenting

Bedtime Books I Wish I Could Read to My Kids

When my kids are at their worst, it’s hard to take the high road. But I do my job, doling out punishments like a lunch lady serving stale bread. Sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t seem to get the point across. A teensy part of me would like to say what I’m really thinking, like “I told you so” or “Duh.” Sometimes I just want to tell my kids how their silly fears are driving me nuts, to just put some stupid clothes on already—any clothes—to end the tears, or that I’m going to throw all of their toys away if they can’t clean them up. Would I be a bad mother if I told my kids that burping at the table causes warts on their tongue? Wouldn’t that put an end to naughty behavior, make my kids finally listen? What if I read them books about it instead?

Bedtime books I wish I could read to my kids:

• A boy who always pulls the shower curtain back before he’ll use the bathroom one day really does find a bad guy hiding there.

• The girl who throws a fit over what to wear is sentenced to a month of wearing her brother’s stinky socks and underwear that he has worn for an entire week. Pee-ew!

• The child who never sleeps is given chores to do all night while the rest of his family snoozes soundly in their beds. Even when he finally tries to lie down, he finds he can no longer sleep. His hands turn to sponges and his feet into mops.

• The kid who picks his nose all the time gets his finger stuck in his nostril. His mom has to sew special clothes for him. He can’t play baseball. And he always fears he will get his other finger stuck. Yes, little Timmy cannot learn his lesson.

• The girl who throws fits suddenly starts talking in that high-pitched squeal all the time and can no longer walk but only stomp and thrash her fists. The only thing that will cure it is a thick, bubbling, stinking concoction of frog’s guts and squid tentacles taken in huge gulps.

• Kids who don’t clean their rooms wake up tied down and taken hostage by their own toys. Barbies build Lego racks to torture their owners. Minifigure armies pull and twist hair. Robots shoot Nerf darts at the kids’ noses. Dolls scribble on walls and the kids will be blamed.

• Kids who talk back to their parents are rewarded with pet birds that never shut up and whisper creepy things that no one else can hear, like, “Don’t go to sleep, Mildred.”

Think it will work?


Get ready, kids. The toys take over when left out too long.


Filed under Parenting

Home Movies Reveal Second Child Woes

After a full day of watching home movies of a decade of my children’s lives, I’ve come away with more than I expected. For one, my husband needs some new clothes. He kept saying, “I still have that shirt” or even, “Look, I’m wearing that one.” I’ve gone through a dozen wardrobes in a decade. For another, I began to see that no matter my efforts, second children simply don’t get all the fuss that first kids do.

After three videos of her brother, my patient daughter wondered when she would make an appearance. Only one more videotape and then the next two were of her, my husband informed her. “What? There are FOUR of him and only TWO of me?” she cried.

My heart sank. It was true. There had been a lot of video of my son. Too many minutes of us anxious new parents hovering and waiting for a smile, a laugh, any sign of fun in our upside-down world. We used that video camera for proof that we weren’t just seeing things in the bleary-eyed haze of sleeplessness. Our new tiny sweetheart by day, insomniac-bloodcurdling-screamer by night did in fact smile, coo, show some sign that he liked us. We needed to record it in case he never did it again.

And so for every new skill, we readied our camera and waited. Ten minutes of video of a staring baby, five minutes of him teetering on wambly legs—not good drama. We realized this as time went on. We got better. But still every other day our son did something cute, like “reading” a book. How could we forget we had recorded that three times before?

When my daughter came along, scenes of her nearly always include big brother. We didn’t hover over her crib waiting for a coo or a gassy smirk. As the parents of two small children, we were quick and to the point.

We created second child syndrome without even realizing it. To our daughter’s eyes, it may look as if our son steals the show in every scene. He’s always there. But the truth is, we never had to wait as long for her smiles or giggles. We didn’t have to choreograph a show with baby talk and rattles to get a second of cute out of her like we did for him. Her brother did all the work for us. We just hit record and watched the action unfold. He could throw a ball in the air and she acted like Elmo had just eaten a banana while standing on his head. She laughed so hard she got hiccups, every single time. At five months old, this was their daily routine.

Our videos revealed that my son had my daughter’s white wicker furniture first, the shelf that hangs in her room, and the plastic Kewpie dolls that were mine as a child. “Why does he have my dresser?”

kewpie dolls

A hand-me-down from Mom to son to sister. She doesn’t know it yet, but Mom is sentimental.

I’m a second child. I know the feeling. Everything looks different when you are always second in line, always waiting your turn, waiting to be old enough. You want videos featuring just you with the same ten minutes of parental torture. You want everything to be the exact same. You keep score even if your parents don’t.

As a survivor of second childhood, I know now things aren’t always what they seem. When I got older, I knew my parents loved me and my sister just like I knew it was possible for me to love both of my parents. That was all I needed to know. Now that I’m a parent, I know what it’s like to feel so full of love in every way possible for two completely different beings. No amount of video or photos can quantify that. But I still make sure her firsts are just as important. I still completed her baby book and wrote down every date.

I don’t want second child syndrome to be part of my daughter’s life, but I know no matter what I do, it will. For now, I hope she’ll be happy with the discovery of two more videotapes…of her. Whew.


Filed under Family