When we made the decision to have a second child, I did my
best to be ready. I read some books about siblings and how to prepare my
daughter for her little brother. We steeled our budget and our home, so when
he came we thought we were ready. Boy, were we wrong. Instead we proved once again that
kids are just little disrupters. Even when you are ready, you are never ready.
Here are a few of the things that have caught me off guard in parenting two for
the past year and a half.
Maybe if I thought really hard about this,
two timeouts at the same time would have seemed obvious. But I never thought
about it. And so, there I was, with two screaming children and only one timeout stool. I made my daughter, who is older, stand by the wall and put my son
in the timeout stool. It’s the only place he actually sits still. But of
course, my daughter cried because she wanted to be in the stool and he cried
because she was crying. Then, everyone cried for a long time, while I stood in
the kitchen and mainlined coffee.
2. Wanting the same things all the time
He was basically manifest destinying her Christmas.
On Christmas Day, in the midst of present
opening, my son walked over to his sister, snatched a present from her hands
and yelled, “Mine!” This set the tone for the rest of our day. Whatever she
had, he wanted. He was basically manifest destinying her Christmas. It has set off an avalanche of both kids wanting exactly the same thing. And I don’t
mean they want similar things; no, they want the same thing. If I give my son a
drink in a blue sippy cup, my daughter, who has her own pink princess cups, will
throw a fit until she has a drink, “Just like bubba!” And vice versa.
moved him into her car seat, I bought her a brand new car seat, which she was
really excited for—until the moment she sat in it, then she wanted her old
car seat, because she didn’t want, “bubba’s booty touching her stuff.”
even had to adjudicate a fight over goldfish. When I tried to placate them by
giving my son his own goldfish crackers, he cried and demanded hers. I
eventually had to just eat those crackers and make them both start with a new
snack. Those crackers tasted like tears.
3. Having to explain why babies can’t go to timeout
When your 9-month-old kicks his sister
in the face, as a parent, you are suddenly expected to explain why you can’t
put that baby criminal in timeout. I may have been unprepared, but my daughter? Well, she was on top of it. “But why can’t he go to timeout? I go to timeout.”
“He can learn to sit still.”
“He needs to learn to not kick his best
Finally, when I explained that when she was
little and hit me, she never went to timeout either, she snapped back, “Well,
maybe if when I was a baby I kicked my sister, I should go to timeout too!”
4. Constantly feeling like I’ve been kicked in the face
Is this psychosomatic or is the mental anguish of parenting manifesting itself as physical pain?
Speaking of being kicked in the face, I am
metaphorically beat up by parenting two kids. Even on a good day, once they
both go to sleep, I find a sudden weight lifted from me. It’s
like having a boulder taken off your chest. It’s very relieving, but then your
rib cage is crushed. After a particularly rough week of parenting, my jaw felt
bruised. Is this psychosomatic or is the mental anguish of parenting
manifesting itself as physical pain?
When one kid wails in anguish over the fact
that you are trying to make her eat a delicious meal of macaroni and cheese, it
is a little annoying. But when two kids send up a grief chorus of screams
because you made them coffee cake instead of cinnamon rolls, well, I don’t
know. I find it really hilarious.
A few months ago, my husband and I took the
kids to stay the weekend at a hotel with a waterpark. We also stopped at a
children’s museum just for them. Two minutes into the museum, my daughter was
wailing, “Oh this was a worst idea!” and the baby was fussing, “All done.” Now,
I’m not going to say my husband and I walked a little slowly through the
exhibits and giggled behind their backs, because, oh the humanity! My parents
took us to something just for us! But let’s just say, in the morning, when they
are both wailing because there was no more blueberry yogurt, only strawberry, I
just sit back and mix their anguish in my coffee and take a sip.