The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Monday, October 18, 2004

I really do have 2 children

Not a single post to this blog to date has been about my son. I think I've mentioned him once or twice in passing, but his sister's really been the star of the show. I cringe to admit how much this carries over into our daily lives as well.

Evan's the quintissential second child. He's absolutely adorable, generally mild mannered and completely charming. If I hear a little old lady oohing and aahing in the supermarket, I know without looking up that my son is flirting madly with her. "He's a second child -- he takes his attention where he can get it," I always tell them. At home, he plays cheerfully with his toys while Julia demands almost all of our attention, and at preschool pickup or the playground, he sits cheerfully in his stroller, watching the world and flashing a heartmelting smile at anyone who so much as glances in his direction.

I love this kid to distraction and am fiercely protective of him, always trying to make sure he gets his fair share. It never seems to happen, though. In the early days, when Julia was having trouble adjusting to his presence in our lives, he would just sit placidly in his bouncy seat while she cried for hours on end. Even now, it seems the attention I give him is always divided -- I'm forever throwing a handful of cheerios on his highchair tray halfway through a meal to hold him over or tossing him in bed with an abbreviated nighttime routine as I rush to attend to Julia's needs. Even when I'm sitting on the floor stacking blocks with Evan, I'm threading beads onto a necklace for Julia or helping to dress a doll at the same time. I realize she's not getting all of me either, but it always seems like she's louder so she gets her needs met first. And I know at this age, she *did* have me all to herself.

By the time Julia was 8 1/2 months, I truly felt as if she was a person, and I knew her inside out. Evan's still just my baby, and when I catch him pressing buttons on the remote control and staring longingly at the TV or putting his stacking cups together I'm more than a little surprised to realize he's growing into a real person without my noticing it. He's probably never going to be the first to do anything around here (except maybe potty training at the rate his sister's going). But that doesn't mean he deserves anything other than our full attention and delight when he does do things. Fortunately for him, he has Julia. "Kiss Evan first," she tells her Daddy when he comes home at the end of the day. "Get something for Evan," she tells me when I offer to buy her a treat. The kid may have parents with divided attentions, but he's got the ultimate champion in his sister.

It's sweet, and I hope it's the beginning of a life-long special sibling relationship for the two of them. But it also means, upon reflection, that even a post about Evan turns into a rave about Julia. I'm beginning to understand why my younger brother called me the day before Evan was induced to say "promise me you'll give this one a little extra attention -- it's hard being the second kid." At the time, I laughed at him and teased him about never getting over his childhood inferiority complex. Now I kind of get it a little more. My brother got past the inequities and grew up to be a happy, well adjusted adult, and I'm sure Evan will, too. I just hope I can pay attention long enough to see it happen.


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