Is it me, or is there always one child who introduces a steeper learning curve than the others?
The other day, I realized as I was swapping kid stories with the town librarian, I have a lot of stories. I mean, we all do, but most of mine are with one kid in particular. Twenty minutes prior, I was talking about the same kid to my naturopath. (Yes, I’m one of those people…I love options) And even a couple hours before that was a very different story about the same kid with a colleague at work. This one child supplies COUNTLESS stories filled with fear, intense frustration and ridiculous amounts of laughter.
If you are familiar with my writing, or have ever met us, you know exactly who I am referring to. My 5 year old son, aka the J Man, the Beast and the Happiest Boy Who Ever Lived. Both my children are fully aware that if the J Man was born first, there would only be the J Man, so we are very thankful he came after the easy peasy girl child. My daughter has always excelled in school, been a good friend, almost never gets sick and is a HUGE help to me around the house. A parent’s dream.
As for the boy child, while in utero, he gave me migraines weekly for the first four months and I couldn’t even think about food without nausea taking over…and I love food, a lot. That should have been my first sign. At birth, the J Man failed his hearing test twice and the specialist told me he’d be deaf in one ear, but he’d learn how to speak. Upon further testing, they determined his hearing was actually fine. I think he faked us out. A year later, he had to have tear duct surgery in both eyes. But one didn’t take, so he had to do it again. I think he liked the post op popsicles and stuffed animals so he made his duct close back up. Or how he crawled out of his crib repeatedly at 14 months like 007, so stealth like that no one could hear him and know what he was getting into. He maneuvered around every child proofing method like a magician and found danger in places no one could proactively discover.
And then there was the time he poured hot wax into his mouth from a burning candle. I mean really, who does that? Or the time he locked himself in a car in the driveway on a hot day with 35 people around watching and not noticing for at least 30 minutes. Or the time he nearly electrocuted himself on one of the outlets in his bedroom and flames shot out it leaving smoke lines up his arm and all the lights in the house flickered. Or when he wandered off during my daughter’s soccer practice and was sitting in a stranger’s car. And all the while, I SWEAR I was WATCHING him! Little dude was fast. If I had a nickel for every time someone has commented, “Wow, he has a lot of energy!” I’d have enough to pay off his first two bail bonds.
Recently, I was organizing our files and noticed that in five years, the boy’s file is eight times the size as the girl’s, who is three years older. Between the asthma, the major allergies, the significant speech delay where he tested below the first percentile and they looked at me like he would be lucky if we ever understood him, I have acquired a lot of paperwork.
Believe me, I am not complaining. It could be so much harder, I know that. I am just pointing out that it seems like one child may be A LOT more work than some of the others. I’ve seen it with some of my friends and hear it from many parents, so it can’t just be me…I hope.
My best friend used to say that God only gives us what we can handle and she, for one, could not handle the J Man, so I was the mother chosen to raise him because I had just enough patience. I think she was nicely trying to say, “Sorry sucker, better luck next time,” but I can’t be sure.
And because he has required so much attention, I wonder if my easy peasy girl child is getting enough. So helpful, considerate and independent, she needs less redirection and support, but equally the amount of attention and love. Sometimes more perhaps. to show her that her effort doesn’t go unnoticed and her role in our family is cherished and appreciated. But because she tries hard, and makes it seem effortless, it’s easy to expect the best and wonder what has gone wrong when she is off…like she’s just a normal kid or something.
We learn so much about ourselves through parenting our children. Each child comes with their challenges and we learn how to navigate down the path with uneven terrain, finding out a little bit more about who we are and what we are capable of each time. Through their triumphs we feel pride and satisfaction and through their hardships, we search for our strengths, while helping them find their own. We learn the joy of sharing our best traits and understanding what the purest of love feels like. At the same time, we learn the power and challenge of maintaining our patience and the insecurity of not being in control of something we invest in so freely. One minute we are patting ourselves on the back and the next, we are questioning what we are doing wrong. It is truly an education and experience like no other.
And as previously mentioned, it’s a lot of work. No joke.
On a positive note, our hard work is beginning to pay off and maturity is starting to change up the boy’s stories. Now that we can understand him perfectly, we have found, he is one funny little guy, as well as kind and considerate with some great potential to be a stand up human being.
In fact, as I just reminded the boy of his previous stories, he commented, “You’re right mom, who doose that?” Exactly. The kid who can skillfully charm us over and quietly torture us at the same time. That’s who doose.