Archive for November, 2007

When Number 1 becomes number 2

Up until now the star of this blog has been my son Luka, who is now 18 months old. Like all first borns he’s enjoyed undisturbed attention from both his parents, and a host of relatives who are frequently in his life. And then, one day recently, he was taken to the hospital. There was a lot of fuss over another small baby and slowly it dawned on him he has a baby sister, Annabelle. Now he has to share his parent’s attention.

This happens to all children who end up with siblings, and I’m guessing it’s probably one of the biggest hurdles parents have to overcome in a child’s emotional development. So, is he jealous? You bet he is. Amid all the excitement of the arrival of our daughter we couldn’t help noticing his change in demeanour.

Suddenly, this perky little boy went all quiet. He was curious to see what all the fuss was about and on several occasional tried to grab her or touch her, unaware how delicate she is. For sure his behaviour was strange (and it didn’t help that he had an undetected ear/nasal tract problem which was making him irritable), he would suddenly go into fit of crying.

So, what to do when number 2 comes along and number 1 suddenly finds out he’s no long the only number in the family? There is plenty of good advice on the topic in various baby books, I have a volume by the famous Miriam Stoppard called Complete Baby and Child Care (DK). It seems all babies eventually get over it, but it’s obviously a very trying period where you’ve got one baby needing attention every couple of hours from the mother, and another to balance in-between or sometimes at the same time.

When a baby is irritable it will cry and cry and want only the comfort of its mother, and even that’s not enough to satisfy a ‘cry fest’, where you simply cannot figure out what it is they want. We’ve have this quite often with Luka and it’s testing trying to pacify him when the other baby is mewing away wanting milk – which I cannot obviously give.

I’ve had plenty of sleep interrupted nights assisting with one baby while mummy is breast feeding the other. The other night at about 2am he awoke, as he often does, feeling irritable and was soon in a screaming tantrum, acting frustrated as he clung to his familiar little blanket and pillow. Nothing seemed to pacify him, he was simply venting frustration and was probably in a bad mood from waking. His mother was trying to quieten him down while simultaneously breast feeding Annabelle. It became obvious when he started trying to push her out the way.

Eventually we had to remove her from the nipple and I took care of her, while he promptly climbed into his mummy’s arms, curled up (he was exhausted by now from all the crying) and promptly fell asleep. Within a few minutes we had Annabelle back on the breast and the problem was solved.

So, with two babies only 18 months apart it can be very testing in the early stages. There is more to say on this subject, particularly on how to make your first child feel like she or he is not being neglected, so I’ll save it for the next blog entry.

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Tidying and untidying

I’ve lost an ipod nano. Actually I lost my visiting sister’s ipod nano, I used it at the gym, put it down when I came home and haven’t seen it since. She was here to see her little nephew for the first time and I suspect his little fingers have relocated it to some place we didn’t think it might be. Months later it might appear, but I’ve been compelled to buy her a new one.

Having little fingers in the house means a perpetual untidiness. They grab everything they can and relocate it. Books get emptied out of shelves, piles of CDs are stacked in the kitchen, and kitchen utensils are deposited all over the house. As if it’s part of his job in this household, Luka can be seen industriously moving things from one place to another. He has a determined look on his face as if he’s an office worker going about his business, and I suspect most other kids do the same.

I’ll be working away and he’ll come up and hand me a pile of papers he’s fished out of the waste basket, as if I really should have them. It’s sweet to see you child purposely handing you things, as if to say ‘here, you’ll be needing these’. I’m not sure whether to congratulate him (clapping hands) for finishing a task or scold him for creating a dreadful mess everywhere he goes.

This is the reality of having kids, especially if you’re habitually tidy like I am. The house becomes one unbearable mess of used clothes, diapers, toys, baby accessories, food, garbage and general items picked up from all over the place. Shoes are great one!  He loves putting on his mums high heels and clunking around the room looking ridiculous (apparently another tots favourite).

So, you can inconvenience your life by sealing up kitchen cupboards, putting almost everything out of reach, and making damned sure you’ve put valuables like ipods away safely instead of leaving them on the kitchen table, or you can perpetually tidy up after your tot. 

Things are sure to disappear, tea spoons run low because they’ve been surreptitiously deposited in the dustbin, books end up in the bath and so on…it’s a nightmare, I tell you. Inversely, garden tools show up in the toilet (he marched in with a rake twice his size the other day), dog food pellets are fished out of my wallet, and I discover business cards in his grasp when he’s nodded off!

On the other hand, he’s learnt where things go. When it’s bath time I help him undress and then he diligently carries the lot over to the laundry basket, sorts the clothes from the diaper, which is then deposited in the trash basket instead, clever chap eh!

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