March 20, 2014 by Katia
Nineteen Month Old came into this world two weeks ahead of time marking his path in life: not gonna wait. Not if I can help it.
At eleven months he was walking, no – running and opening fridge doors and other drawers, hunting down his own dinner, fixing himself a snack as he would bite into an unwrapped cucumber before I could stop him, because patience just isn’t a lion cub’s strong suit. I remember a conversation taking place between myself and my best friend back home. I had mentioned to her how surprised I was that at six months of age my baby managed to preserve his unique, unmistakable signature colicky newborn cry. My friend, superior to me in wisdom and a product of a larger family, delivered a convincing closing argument: second born genetics. They come with built in survival skills. Designed to outscream.
Observing him on his own and as he started interacting with his brother and us I knew one thing with certainty: here’s someone who can fend for himself if he ever needed to.
And as my baby was growing and morphing into a toddler I’d look at him with tenderness and exhilaration, soaking in every breathtaking detail but rarely did I look through that vision-blurring protective lense, because don’t you know it? This one is fierce, passionate, fiery! He yells, bites, kicks and growls! Whenever I looked at that tiny frame what I saw were his thick dark curls and I got distracted by a narrative I created. Here comes my little lion with his mane, roar and powerful jaws. I saw mighty Samson in an extremely cute package, a cartoon Samson if you will, and I found proof for his resilience everywhere. And while Four Year Old was always stubborn, independent and determined, Nineteen Month Old was his brother amplified, his brother with a kick. To drive his point home, in altercations with his sibling Nineteen Month Old relied on fists and teeth and I often had to step in for Four Year Old who never retaliated.
Update mom guilt checklist and add following item: not feeling protective enough of her second-born.
That is until I walked in on his vulnerability.
Imagine the following scene orchestrated by Four Year Old, so typical in its atypicalness: a kitchen floor arrangement consisting of a tray and a chopping board. The chopping board rests on top of the deep tray. Sitting on the floor beside it is Four Year Old playing rink master to his toddler brother, sweet-talking him into climbing on top of the contraption. Nineteen Month Old obediently obliges although struggles a bit to stabilize himself. Four Year Old’s smiling now, a sneaky smile with his voice rising up and dropping down dripping with insincerity as he lures his puppet in and then corrects it: no, no, you’re supposed to lie down on this, Daniel! The little feet on the board are immediately launched into action, responding with a little tap dance of uncertainty. A few hesitant attempts to reposition them followed by a clumsy, seeking to please belly- dive and there he is, positioning himself on his belly, face down, then turned to the side, not forgetting to tuck his hand under his right cheek attempting to recreate his “nigh-nigh!” game, as his legs are uncomfortably dangling off the tiny board. As I witness this scene, I gratefully embrace the ache and the warm and familiar sense of protectiveness filling my heart.
And then I realize. This was simply the kind of vulnerability I can recognize, but your everyday vulnerability might look differently than your brother’s. It might be a loud and explosive one, it might feel like fire, but it’s there and I need to learn to recognize it. Even lion cubs need protection and I’m here.
I’m done with school, but my kids teach me new things about life every day.
Have you experienced guilt toward your second born?
This was an FTSF post on the topic “I’m done with school, but…”. Please visit the fabulous hosts:
Stephanie at Mommy, For Real
Kristi at Finding Ninee
Janine at Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic