Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Breaking in as a Parent

     My first child is an experiment.

     There, I said it (and the husband agrees).
     I have two boys with a 6 year gap. Mr. 10 has been a trial run for Mr. 4. He gets all our short tempers, lack of patience and first experience mistakes. I feel bad for him sometimes. But I don't see any way around it. He will have the first of everything, from the explosive diaper to the first loose tooth to the first sex talk to everything in between.
     I feel bad for Mr. 4, too. He will have the bias experiences. For example, last night the hubby and I were mowing. I was riding the tractor and he was trimming. He brought Mr. Independent outside with him. I instantly started freaking out (to myself). Mr. 10 would not have been allowed. He was too distracted when left to his own devices. Something as simple as "Here, go play in the sandbox while I trim the yard" was not accomplishable. He would wander into the road, under the deck or out of my sight. I had to put his gangly body on the tractor with me to cut the grass to a reasonable length.
     Little Mister did great. He spent an hour picking up umbrella leaves in the driveway and putting them in his sand bucket. Or he'd run back and forth to me saying in all seriousness, "Mom, I have to talk to you!" Then he'd relate to me what he had been doing. Panic attack overrated, yet again.
     I was talking to a Pre-K mom during graduation yesterday. Her youngest was shell-shocked and wasn't performing the little song routine the teachers had prepared.  Jokingly, I mentioned it to her. She replied that her oldest was the same way. I sympathized. Mr. 10 had been, too. For the first five years, we got nothing but film of him frozen in place or staring at the ceiling. She didn't seem that concerned with her munchkin being uncooperative and I realized that I probably wouldn't have been either. We went through it with Mr. 10. It was stressful, I think I cried at least once (when we got home), and by the time he started interacting for his performances I was to the point that it couldn't get any worse. I expected the storybook child with our first. You know, the happy-go-lucky, no problems, and likes to cooperate child. I think I set the bar unreasonably high.
     Mr. 10 does have A.D.D. Not only are their personalities different but the way they do everything is different. I have to wonder that part of the reason I enjoy my second child is because there were no problems. No therapy, no stressful calls from the school, and no 12 teacher Intervention meetings to sweat through.
     Mr. 4 is almost the complete opposite. He is outgoing, has social graces and expresses himself LOUDLY and often. It's hard to not compare them. I expect one thing when he is thrown into a specific situation and I get a complete different outcome. It's kind of refreshing and a relief.
     Or maybe it's because I reached that limit. The limit that I could emotionally handle. The big and little things are easier. I know what is worth getting stressed over and when I should just let them be kids. I can take a deep breath, laugh, tickle and hug him to my heart's content.

     Do you have children with a large age gap? Did you grow emotionally with a development challenge kid first? Do you enjoy your second, third, or fourth child the most? Does life with your first always feel like an uphill climb that you tumble down continuously? How have you survived the learning experience, called Parenting?

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