Sunday, January 26, 2014

First vs. Fourth: Myth vs. Reality

 You won't photograph your 2nd (nor your 3rd, and definitely not your 4th) child as much as your first. I cannot tell you how many times I've heard this or, some lament, implying the "poor 4th child, doesn't get the same attention".  This is simply untrue.  In fact, I believe in my case, that the 4th child might have every day of his life documented, whereas the first has only a few days a week, or even a month.  This is due in part to the fact that my first child has NEVER STOPPED MOVING since birth, but also to the idea that only milestones are worth photographing.  And I didn't have a "smart phone" or a "fancy camera".  The art of photography and access to the ability to take a picture has done nothing but become easier, and easier, and easier, as well as more convenient, since the day I was born, all the way back in 1982.  No one is more photographed than a child born in 2014.  No one.

Perhaps what they mean, is that you won't photograph every milestone as consistently.  Which is generally true and a matter of logistics. The fourth child will have much less documentation of the "first photos"; first time lifting his head, rolling over, sitting, crawling, trying baby food, walking, eating dirt, drinking out of the dog bowl, spaghetti in the hair, bath.  This is because you are chasing THREE other children.  Imagine the condition your house would be in, if you stopped to do a mini photo shoot for all of these events.  I'm not even sure all your kids would survive toddler-hood if you did this. I don't know about you, but if my two-year thinks that I might be tied up for even 3 minutes, he takes off to get into the drawer with the nail-clippers, or stick his hands in the toilet, or ventures into the basement to climb on top the bar stools, just so he can start calling my name and telling me he's "stuck". What you will have, is a lot more random photos of the fourth child being kissed by his brother.  Held by his dad.  Sleeping peacefully on your chest. Making a silly face. Wearing cute hats. Or simply, whatever he is doing when you have a free hand and an iPhone.  And, let's face it, a lot of those milestones just get somewhat boring.  I will take a picture of my 4th kid eating something, at some point, most likely, when I deem it worth capturing (and the other 3 are at school).

Your fourth child will have a used and out-dated wardrobe.  This is true, but, by the 3rd or 4th hand-me-down you stop "saving the cute outfits".  The expensive sweaters, nice pants and any other luxury type item isn't so "luxury" anymore...yet it's not worn out.  Also, because you've got all the basics, and are not starting from scratch to create an entire wardrobe, it's okay to splurge every once in a while on a really cute outfit.  Lastly, if I come across a stained or just plain ugly lookin' item, I toss it.  With the first, I thought I'd save them all, as if each piece was irreplaceable.  Now, I know, something cuter or more functional will likely come along and frankly, there is no space for items I won't use. Sometimes, I think my subsequent children do nothing but get better dressed.  That being said, my fourth child LIVES in sleepers.  It's just so easy.  One piece, covers them top to bottom, keeps them warm.  Screw trying to match multiple items.  Until you have a spare moment, then have fun, dress him to the nines.  Dressing up a baby never gets old.  I don't care how many you have.

The fourth child gets neglected, or less attention.  My first born just asked, "Why do you guys love Mitch so much?" Enough said.  This is not even remotely true. Even a 5 year old perceives that the 4th is loved, immensely.  Our (already ridiculously laid-back) parenting style may have become more lax.  We might lie him on the sofa or changing table momentarily unattended (honestly, it's safer than the floor when you have 3 brothers running around) or let him nap on his belly, but we don't ignore him. As a highly experienced parent, you pick up on cues significantly quicker.  You know the difference between a tired cry, a hungry cry, or a "fear for my life because my 3-year-old brother is trying to ride my like a pony during tummy-time" cry.  You can sooth easier, get them to sleep quicker, and decipher lots of other little cues sooner, so that you can delegate your attention better.  Mostly, this results in a baby that actually requires less of your time.  I guess, what I am saying, is that fourth children can pretty much take care of themselves. And there is never a dull moment in their lives.

It's my first child that I think gets the brunt of the fourth's existence.  He is suddenly has 3 other brothers younger and more needy.  He doesn't get photographed (again, most likely because he never stops).  His kindergarten registration barely gets turned in on time.  He is expected to get dressed on his own.  Pick up on his own.  Ride a bike.  Buckle in.  Not that any of this developmentally exceeds his stage in life, but there is no break.  Five is simply not that old...but compared to a 3 year old, 2 year old and 0 year old, it's nearly adult-like!  So, those people out there, trying to lead you to believe that each child gets more and more slighted, ignored, and less documented, well, those people are wrong.  Thank goodness for that, right, Mitch!?

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