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!?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Is it possible!?

George is quickly becoming quite the antagonist. I see it in his face. That mischievous little smile, saying, are you watching this? Cause its going to make you really mad...

Tonight, after the three boys finished their meals, one by one, they came to join Mitch and I on the couch. George was the last to finish, like always. He does this because he likes to then check out everyone's leftovers and see what he'd like to eat. We don't call him 'the scavenger' or 'our little garbage disposal' for nothing. He came to Curtis' plate and discovered a couple uneaten orange slices. He climbed onto Curtis' chair and held a slice near his mouth, and waited. And waited. And waited. Until Curtis finally glanced his way. As soon as eye contact was made and the reaction by Curtis started, George stuffed the orange slice in his mouth. And smiled, contently. Curtis ran over, upset, hit his little brother, and the interaction ended there. I really thought 22 months would be much too young for this kind of intent. Guess not.

Antagonists Unite!!!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Mitch.

When you pick a name, you try to think of all the nicknames.  The positives and negatives to each name.  And all the different angles.  Turns out you cannot predict these things with accuracy until the child exists, and you can observe their little personalities. You see, the name Mitch seemed relatively safe from nicknames, besides the obvious (replace M with a B).  Well, when that child ends up being huge, and his name begins with an "M" the alliteration never ends.  Monster Mitch. Massive Mitch. Mighty Mitch. Mammoth Mitch. Mega Mitch. Morbidly obese Mitch. Mushy Mischy.  Then others come about: Mitchy-Mitch. Mischy Fran. Mitch Paleese. Mitchapalooza. Stinky winks. I am sure more will evolve, more probably even exist, but this exhausts the list in my head.

Just tonight, I remarked to Matt, that Mitch has the best temperament of any of our babies.  It suddenly occurred to me, he never had a "witching hour". I kept expecting it to happen.  I've been waiting for him to start crying while someone else is holding him, requiring no one else but his mommy to make him happy.  I worried, he doesn't like a paci, how will I calm him down when he's hysterical?  None of this happened.  None of it.  I cannot think of one, single moment where I was frustrated by my Mitch crying.  Before leaving the hospital, we had to watch a video titled "Purple Crying" which basically explained that babies will cry, a lot, so don't shake them.  It gave lots of suggestions on how to deal with the seemingly, endless, purposeless crying for which comforting just did not work.  Never has this video ever been so pointless. 

I can come up with a dozen different hypotheses as to why this might be...not the least of which being that he has 3 older brothers to keep him entertained. He has an extremely confident, comfortable mom and patient, loving dad that have previously been through this 3 times, recently at that.  He is massive, thereby, mostly full and well fed.  He loves to be warm and snugly, which is accomplished easy enough. Mostly, I just think it's Mitch.  He's an extremely content, little {big} fella.  He may not compare to Curtis in his sleeping habits.  Nor to Brock in his powers of observation.  Nor to George in the facial expression department.  But he is in a league of his own when is comes to perfect, sweet, content infant temperament.  He talks, non-stop. Loves a good laugh.  I think his voice is deep.  But, ultimately, I see him being the big, strong, silent type.  He will be a momma's boy.  The one that will take care of me, be concerned about my well-being.  Momma's Mitch. Amazing how truly different 4 little boys can be and come from the same two parents.  A perfect fit.  Simply, My Mitch.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Splinter

Brock and Mitch joined me for my post-call, post-nap afternoon Starbucks latte (in my free January mug).  We found a big, leather chair where we settled to await our beverages, while Mitch chewed on his bunting and played with the stretchy-cow thing hanging from his carrier handle.  Brock wandered over to the drink counter, announcing, "I'll be right here if you need me, mom!"  Brock, I hate to break it to ya buddy, but for your entire 5 years of existence, I haven't "needed" you for fact, you generally get in the way, but, man do I love you.  Anyway, our drinks are finally finished, and somewhere between obtaining our beverages and getting settled back into that big, leather chair, Brock had acquired a wooden, stir stick.  As soon as I noticed, I immediately suggested he set it down, as I had assumed it was used. Perhaps, one he had found on the table adjacent our chair.  This rampant stomach flu bug has brought out my inner germaphobe full force. He just laughed, "Mom, I got this my self, silly."  Phew.

No sooner had I finished taking a photo of my mug, which had attracted Mitch's undivided attention, did I hear Brock begin to get worked up, "Mom, what is this on my finger"!?  I attempt to look at the microscopic "thing" that I was certain he was inventing. It was nearly impossible to see anything on the panicked, moving target in the dimly lit Starbucks cafe.  "It looks like some dry skin."  He didn't buy it.  "I think there is something in there."  I continue to try to blow it off, "Ok, Brock, just sip your hot chocolate".  He won't get over it, his anxiety builds, I can see he is verging on a breakdown.  I oblige him another look, he holds still, and I see it. The finest of fine, nearly non-existent, hardly underneath the skin surface; splinter. "Oh, it's just a splinter, we'll get tweezers at home and..."

I can't even finish my sentence. Tears are welling up in his eyes. He is terrified and sad and worried sick.  "But my hand will fall off!  I don't want my hand to fall off.  Not a splinter! Oh no, my hand's going to rot off." Sadistically, all I can do is laugh and make a paltry attempt to comfort and reassure him as I'm simultaneously trying to get organized for our sudden departure. A few, nearby patrons are finding humor in the abrupt turn of events.  We get outside, and Brock is pacing, crying, and holding his precious, soon to be lost, hand.  I continue to try to explain the harmless nature of his perceived plight, but it falls on deaf ears.  While in the car, I here him mumbling, "I hate splinter problems." I had no idea there was such thing as "splinter problems", this makes me laugh. I'm still bewildered by this reaction, but am thoroughly enjoying the amusement it has afforded me at my young child's expense.

We arrive home. I find the tweezers. I remove the splinter without trauma. Brock's finger and hand is saved,  He's relieved. He informs me that he doesn't think it needs a Band-aid, but he'll let me know if it starts bleeding. Then, suddenly, that worried look again...

"Mom!  Oh no! Where's my hot chocolate!? Oh no."  And just before the tears return, he sees me pointing directly in front of him on the table. "Oh.  It's right here.  Silly me, mom."