Friday, 2 September 2016

Second Child Syndrome: Toughen Up Son!

You know what? I don't moan much - not more than three hours per day (average). I know, I know, my sweet, uncomplaining nature. And yet, sometimes I just have to reveal how difficult it can be when you're in my position - our position. Second child and all that - life's tough for us.

Just consider the circumstantial evidence. Child number two. More often than not you have to wear your older sibling's clothes and when you get a cutie photoshoot there's always some other kid shoving (or being shoved) into the photo alongside you. Did you ever get a baby book when you were little? Nope. Did number one? You know it! All your toys are second-hand and when Mummy gets them down from the attic the chances are that some other kid will come along and carry them off before you get an opportunity to play with them. See what I mean? Hard.

Then there's all those mega-unmissable, super-important milestones: first tooth, first word, first steps. Number one gets attention minute by minute to the hyper-limit. "Hey! Look! He's walking!" "Listen! He said this!" "See that? Quick write it down!" With number two it's all a case of 'Seen It All Before'. Write it down? Nah! Too busy. Memories? What are those? Personal attention? What's that?

Just read this story from last week and you'll see what I mean. Family goes out for a day to a show; horses, stalls, lots of big tents, cows, pigs, sheep, dogs, etc, etc. You name it, it was there. People were there too, lots of them, crowds of them, thousands of them. Both boys were allowed to walk but they took a pushchair for the little one. Let him stretch those chubby little legs. Yeah, until he wanted to go one way and everyone else wanted to go another, then it was, "heave-ho into the pushchair with you, son"! They let him out to look at some sheep and ducks. Child number one roamed free. Child number two got shoved back in the pushchair again. Pigs? Couldn't see 'em - pen sides were too high to see over. Goats? Had a quick look - quick, quick, the older kid wants to see the donkeys. Cows? Can't reach 'em - pushchair can't get close enough. Other kid gives them a nice pat. Then hours of being stuck in a pram being pushed over bumpy grass with hundreds of strange legs pushing past on every side. Child number one gets treated to a ice drink and a new hat. Child number two stays put. No choice. Stuck. Confined. Can't get out. Moan, moan. 'Here have a dummy and quit wailin'.' Oh man...

Yup it's tough being number two.

"Hey little brother! Did you see that?" "Glub, glub." "What?"
Still, you've got to feel sorry for number one too, I guess. I can't really see it from their point of view but I suppose all those oldest older siblings have got some sort of justification for some of what they say. I mean, imagine being the centre of attention: all eyes trained on you, your slightest gurgle greeted with gasps of rapture and glee and then suddenly this...thing...this...person...comes muscling in on the picture. Suddenly the admiring crowds aren't quite so admiring. "Be careful!" they shout, "mind the little one." "Come on, let him play with that toy now. Stop being so selfish!" "Don't be so mean. Give your brother a hug." And so on. Oh, come on... A little tyrant comes spattering across the floor. "Give him a turn," the ex-admirers coo. Number one turns tail and seeks sanctuary in his bedroom. Number two holds the floor and howls because he's lonely. Tough, tough for both.

"OK, OK. Just talk to the hand. This face ain't listenin'."
Let me tell you another little story. Last week, a family went out for a nice boat trip up the river from Exmouth. Lovely day: the sun was shining, the water sparkled, the boats in the river rocked gently in the breeze and young seals (in the singular - she must have had some friends elsewhere) sunbathed on a blue thingymabob (is that how you spell it?) like a big brown slug cuddly toy. Kid number two stood on the seat for a better look. Looks pretty cute, peeking over the side. Kid number one stood on the seat for better look and got hollered at. "Sit down! You'll fall in!" The family got the train back, half way back that is, and walked the rest of the way. Burning hot day. Clouds were high, sun beat down. Kid number two got put in the pushchair. Kid number one had to walk. "Mummy, I don't want to walk all that way." "It's not far. Look, we're nearly halfway!" Halfway to where? In the distance the houses of Exmouth shimmer in the afternoon sun, misty, indistinct, doll's houses by a blue, blue sea... Number two snuggles down a bit in his pushchair. Number one gives his binoculars to Mummy to carry. Less weight. Every little helps.
"Glub? Mubble mubble?" "Look, just don't talk! I give up! OK?"

Yup, it's tough being number one.

On the other hand...

With reference to the story above, guess who had to give kid number one a piggy back when he got too tired to walk?

Yup, it's tough being a Dad too.

And who had to push the pram all that long and weary way? A pram additionally weighed down with all the bags and other clobber that kids entail?

Let's just say that there weren't any shirkers...

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