Monday, April 8, 2013

Raising The 1st vs. 2nd vs. 3rd Kid

I've read many posts that insightfully document the differences between parenting the first and second child, like this one by Jason Good. I love posts like that, but for this mom of three, as I'm reading them, something's missing. Hmmm...

If the second kid ever thinks they got the shaft, the reality is they were treated like a king compared to their younger sibling. Third (and beyond) kids are basically fending for themselves "Little House on The Prairie" style, chopping wood, changing their own diapers, eating dirt, and honing their survival skills by the ripe old age of two.

And before all the humorless people start screaming about neglect and blah blah blah Child Protective Services blah blah blah, listen. It's a fact that for most some people, as each kid arrives, a few more parenting standards fly out the window, until eventually they're so low that as long as the kids are fed and still alive at the end of every day, WE'RE GOOD.

I'm one of those people, and I'm fine with that. Especially because *SAP ALERT* the one thing my kids are never shafted on is love. Or a raving lunatic for a mother.

1st: In the weeks before birth, everyone eagerly anticipates baby's arrival, including the checkout lady at the grocery store. They call daily, and when you don't answer (because you're in the bathroom for THE NINETIETH TIME that day), they assume you're at the hospital. After the birth, everyone floods the hospital, and you try not to feel awkward when even the dry cleaner guy shows up with flowers.
2nd: The week before birth, immediate family and maybe your best friend call "just make sure you're still pregnant!" After the birth, said immediate family and a few friends show up at the hospital.
3rd: The day before your due date, your mom calls to ask if you've heard from your brother about the dates for the family vacation in a few months. At the hospital, you call people to tell them that the baby was born and they awkwardly say they thought you had him two months ago and have been meaning to come by.

1st: You remember most details about them as a baby, have fond memories of all these magical moments of bonding, gazing into each others' eyes, and tickling toes.
2nd: Vaguely recall some big moments. Like the time they puked in your face.
3rd: Have to look at baby pictures (the few you took) to even remember what they looked like or things you did with them.

1st: Spoon feed them until they're two.
2nd: At age one, hand 'em the spoon, even if it means a bit more mess. I mean, what's another mess?
3rd: At 7 months - YOU'RE NOT FEEDING YOURSELF YET, KID? What the fuck, step it up! *Scatters puffs and wagon wheels on the highchair* Figure it out son- I have laundry to do!

1st: Remember that he walked at 10 months and 17 days on XXX date, at 7:12 p.m. You even have it on video!
2nd: Vaguely recall that they walked sometime around 11 months. Feel guilty that you don't have it on video.
3rd: Uhhhh...???

1st: Is not allowed to sit on backless bar stool at the kitchen counter until age four. 
2nd: Started sitting on it at three.
3rd: Fell off it 397 times before he turned two. (Wow, kids are shockingly sturdy!)

1st: Totally on top of changing diaper every two hours or immediately after pooping.
2nd: Four hours is not too long to go in between (pee) diaper changes. The two-hour thing is just a ruse to sell more diapers! Oh you pooped? I'll change you after I finish eating.
3rd: When was the last time this kid's diaper was changed? Holy shit- your crap has dried to your butt cheeks! (How did I not smell that? Oh, that's right, the entire house now constantly smells like shit. And feet. And farts. The smell is ingrained in my nose. IT DOESN'T WASH OUT!)

1st: Mainly new things, mixed in with hand-me-downs from friends and family.
2nd: Eighty-five percent hand-me-downs, only gets new clothes on birthdays and Christmas.
3rd: Looks like a refugee from a concentration camp.

1st: Run over to kid while reminding yourself not to react so he doesn't feed off your reaction and flip out.
2nd: Without stopping what you're doing, ask, "Are you bleeding? No? You're okay."
3rd: Vaguely register hearing a thump; one of the other kids will come tell you if it's serious.

1st: Oh, you don't like that? Here, let's try something else! (Over and over.)
2nd: Oh, you don't like that? Um, you get one other option, and that's it.
3rd: Eat it or starve. 


1st: No, no, you've only had three servings of vegetables today! One more and then you can have your seventh serving of fruit, silly boy!
2nd: A bag of fruits snacks and some chips for lunch? OKAY! I'll feed you really good at dinner! (Lie.)
3rd: A lollipop for lunch? Sure. Whatever. JUST DON'T SCREAM AGAIN!
Oh dear God I'm so tired. So. Emotionally. Drained.

1st: Oh, he likes, X, Y, and Z, and would LOVE some more of P and Q! Thanks for asking!
2nd: Um, he's pretty much good, maybe some more X or Y, or even a gift card. (That you use to buy diapers with.)
3rd: HE DOESN'T NEED ANYTHING! WE HAVE ENOUGH GODDAMN TOYS! Oh, you have to get him something? *Sarcastic jazz hands* Get him socks and a new toothbrush! He doesn't care! He's two!
*I'm not ungrateful for gifts... well... most of them.

1st: Everyone at the park is a pedophile, everyone! (I'm looking at you, grandma who's knitting on the bench!) Good thing I can keep a laser beam eye on my one and only kid.
2nd: Everyone is still a pedophile, so stay together, kids! I can't watch both of you if you're in separate areas of the park, now can I? *Quickly responds to text message. Guiltily (not really) checks Facebook.*
3rd: Okay, the grandma's probably not a pedophile, nor that 8-months-pregnant woman whom my crawler is lapping, where's kid #1? Oh that's him yelling somewhere over my left shoulder about being a pirate. Do I hear #2? Yep, that's him yelling about his penis. "HEY, #3, get that dog crap out of your mouth!" What's happening on Twitter right now? Oh yay, a new Dadspin post!

1st: Kid goes everywhere with you. People invite you over to their house and out to do stuff- just throw the kid in a carrier or stroller, good to go! Parenthood isn't gonna cramp my style!
2nd: Still get invited places, can only go about half the time- after nap time and must return home early to get them down for bedtime.
3rd: No one bothers inviting you over or out anymore because they know you can't go, and they don't want you at their house anyway because it's like inviting the insane clown circus over and that last time, your kid pulled his penis out of the top of his diaper and peed on their carpet (true story). Feel like you need to bring Xanax or giant bottle of booze for your hosts, to help them get through the function.

1st. They hit or bite a kid or rip a toy out of a baby's hand for the first time, and the world implodes. Feel like the shittiest parent on earth, apologize profusely, cry, are crushed that you're now a complete social pariah and your kid is going to be a total loser that nobody invites over to play.
2nd: Feel awful the first time they hit or bite another kid or steal a toy, apologize profusely, know that you're a social pariah, but so's everyone else, really.
3rd: Hits or bites another kid or steals a toy, you look at the other mom with a wild-eyed look and exclaim, "What can I say? THEY'RE LIKE GODDAMN ANIMALS!"

1st: Dart out while they're sleeping to get the mail, terrified that the house will catch on fire in the twelve seconds it takes to get to the mailbox or that you'll accidentally lock yourself out of the house.
2nd: Dart out and grab it while they're sleeping, feel good about "getting out of the house" for the day. Feel stupid after realizing that the house was never going to spontaneously combust, nor can you actually lock yourself out, anyway.
3rd: WHEN WILL THE FUCKING MAIL GET HERE SO I CAN WALK OUT OF THIS HOUSE AND GET A FEW SECONDS OF PEACE? "Hey kids, don't set the house on fire while I go get the mail!" Click your heels together as you jump off the porch steps. Wish that you could lock yourself out.

1st: Wow, I really feel like I need a glass of wine to relax after the day I had!
2nd: Can't wait to get to my half a bottle of wine tonight.
3rd: Will a bottle of wine be enough for me tonight? *Catches toddler vomit in cupped hands* I'm thinking no.

1st: Stroll through the aisles, naming every item to the baby who doesn't understand a word you're saying.
2nd: "Sit down!" "Don't touch that!" "NO, we are not buying a bag of lollipops, a bag of marshmallows, more fruit snacks, etcetera!" "HEY! Get back here!" "I said, don't touch that!"
3rd: The boys want to poke a handicapped woman in the check out area and run away? OH WELL, THEY'RE BEING ENTERTAINED. (True story, and it's not as bad as it sounds. You HAVE to read this old, old, old as dirt post of mine <---- click the link. It's from before you knew of my existence, is one of my favorites and is *now* way funny.)

SEE? Look at the holes in his pants, REFUGEE STYLE.

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  1. Benign neglect is good for kids. I have five. It gets BETTER with more, because then you can make the big ones babysit! HAHAHAHA!

  2. people pay good money for holey pants!

    1. True! We're actually wealthy and those pants cost a day's salary. ;-)

  3. This is why third children are always the coolest! I only have two, but my neglect increased exponentially between one and two, so I'm afraid of what would happen with number three. Hilarious post!

    1. Thanks! And yes, I suspect that our third, while pretty insane right now, will end up being the rock star (metaphorically speaking) of our family!

  4. Hahaha! I don't think my 6th even owns a pair of pants that have intact knees.
    Of course, the other kids don't have pants that reach their ankles. I spread the neglect around to them all.
    Funny, funny post.

    1. Thank you! I've realized that holes get blown in the knees of NEW pants in the first couple of weeks, so I think that is one battle that I'm just going to have to give up on.

  5. You are officially my new favorite bloggress, I seriously can't stop reading, you're an excellent writer and obviously hilarious. I just want to thank you so much for the warning... I don't have kids but someday, when I'm pushed to my max I hope I have the clarity to reach back to some of your stories and laugh a little :)

  6. I'm a third child, and I concur. I only have one myself. I started out treating him like a first, now I kinda treat him like a second... So I guess it's for the best that I don't have another.

    1. Well, it's probably not a bad thing to become a more "relaxed" parent!

  7. Hilarious! Keep it up lady!

  8. As the third child in my family, I can just say that the third definitely ends up being the rock star of the family. I may be *slightly* biased, but I think I ended up being more mature and responsible than my older (and obviously coddled) siblings.

    I'm actually aiming to treat my daughter (our first) along the lines of the #2 kid in your examples. Though Lord knows how I'll end up treating our second, if that's the case...

    1. You sound like you're on the right track! Perhaps, if you treat your first like the second, you'll end up still treating your second like your second, too, because you won't be so exhausted from all of the "first kid" ridiculousness! :-)

  9. Oh my goodness the eating solids section had me laughing out loud (while rocking the baby to sleep - oops!)...just tonight at dinner as I was tossing an inordinate amount of puffs at said baby (our third of course:) my husband asked "Why isn't she eating Cheerios yet? Those things are too expensive...Cheerios are so much cheaper." Sorry baby #3...we really do love you too:)
    Thanks for this great hits close to home!

    1. Ha, I feel what your husband said about the puffs!

      You're welcome, and thanks for reading! :-)

  10. Hahaha! Funny, I only have the one, but you pretty much nailed it, minus the drinking. half a bottle or a cocktail always. That's why I can't have more...;)

    1. Thanks! And maybe you can work something out where you can have another but maintain the same volume of drinking after!

  11. I am no where near brave enough for three. You are not only brave, but insane and hilarious. This was awesome. (Our mail doesn't come until after 4. I often pace at the window.)

  12. I have twin boys born 14 minutes apart, and believe me, that's pretty much like starting on the third. Reading this, I kept thinking, wow, I kind of never had the #1 or #2 experience...poor kids. Maybe a la BrewsterMama above, they'll both wind up rock stars.

    1. I TOTALLY believe it! I commend anyone who has twins or triplets, that's some serious parenting right there. :-) And yes, they're going to be rock stars, I agree!

  13. I have 1 and we've gone through stages of #1, #2, and he's now pretty much being treated like #3 (He's 5). And I'm reading through your entire post of horrifying things (such as catching toddler puke in your cupped hands... something I've managed to never have to do)... and I *still* have baby fever for #2 & #3. (PS- So Much for Mother of the Year Award on FB sent me!)

    1. Thanks for being here, Michelle! Yeah, I understand the baby fever thing ALL TOO WELL. It's a force that's almost impossible to fight! I only became capable of fighting it after the third came along; that was more than enough for me!

  14. It's almost scary how accurate this is. I have three boys...

    Great post!


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