Before Connor, I thought I had learned a lot about parenting in general. Gabe was almost four when Connor made his grand entrance, and in nearly four years I considered myself a “parenting pro”. These days, I consider myself a parenting buffoon. Bill Cosby said it best when he said this in one of his routines:
“[Two children] qualifies, because a person with one child, I don’t really call them a parent… because there are too many things left out. For instance, if something’s broken in the house, you have one child, you know who did it! See, you don’t have to go through “I… I… I…”. You know the child did it! Also, people with one child do not have to go through “Willyoustoptouchingme?” I mean, if you got one child and the child is doing that, then you gotta take it away.”
And he was right, y’all. The older I get, the funnier that man becomes to me. I don’t care if everyone is butt-hurt over whatever happened forty years ago. The man was a parenting genius, and it’s funny because it all rings true.
Like I said, before I had Connor I thought I had this whole parenting gig figured out. Gabe was such a good baby and not that bad of a toddler. I knew what he needed and what he wanted, and unless I was at school or work, he had my undivided attention. When I was pregnant with Con, Evan & I included him on everything throughout my pregnancy and I can say with certainty that he never felt left-out or unwanted. He loved Connor from the moment he knew about him (adores him to this day) and was over the moon when he finally got to meet “liddle brudder”. I was positive that having two would be no different except for the obvious addition. I was WRONG.
Two years and a few figurative heart-attacks later, I realize just how retarded I must have sounded to anyone who already had multiple children. My house is a wreck. My nerves… they’re a wreck. I have forgotten the meaning of sleep and sanity, and I’m still trying to figure out how it’s even humanly possible to be SO PISSED OFF at my kids and at the same time LOVE THEM EVEN MORE than I did prior to pissed off-dom. It’s a crazy thing, parenting two children (or maybe just boys…? dunno). Don’t get me wrong — single-kid parenting had its challenges. Like… ah, hell. I can’t think of anything. Because everything that I used to think was hard or a pain in the ass… it really wasn’t, in hindsight. There was a point when Gabe was challenging and I remember thinking, “How… the hell do people do this?!” And now all I can do is laugh at my former self.
Connor has surpassed, “challenging”. If I’d given birth to Connor first, the likelihood of there having been a second child would have been… not at all likely. Connor is night to Gabe’s day. I’ve never met such a strong-willed kid. At least, I’ve never met such a strong-willed child that I didn’t want to throat punch on occastion*. Forget the terrible two’s; Connor knows no prejudice to any age. After six months, the jig was up, and he went from sweet, tiny little thing, to HOLY HELL, DON’T GIVE IT FOOD AFTER MIDNIGHT.
I love both of my boys, don’t get me wrong. I only joke about all of this because I make horrible, ugly faces when I’m crying, and I’m not trying to do that to you guys. That said, isn’t adding levity to some situations the best way to get over them or to keep one’s sanity? Gabe has his faults, that’s for sure. Connor isn’t alone in antics and shenanigans. But Gabe isn’t as good at hiding his shenanigans; craftiness isn’t his strong suit. That’s probably for the best since the (almost) two year old seems to think he’s Billy the Kid incarnate. I am officially taking a backseat to parents who have more than two kids and who have not lost their minds. Hats off to you guys — I really have no idea how you do it. And SAHM’s? Know that I’m sending you a mental Nobel Prize. Staying home with 2+ ankle biters under the age of 18, and without visions of straitjackets in your head… that’s both admirable and terrifying. Meanwhile, I’m over here trying my best to not spill my beer while I’m rocking in a corner come two o’clock every afternoon. All kids are different. Maybe not wildly different as is the case with my boys, but they’re different nonetheless. What discipline or praise may work on one child will probably not work on the next.. or the next, or the next, etc.
For example, Gabe came home the other day with a report on unusually bad behavior. I took away Legos and anything with a screen. His chore list increased, as well. I told him that he could earn stuff back over the course of a few days if I received reports of good behavior. Over the week, he steadily earned back his freedom. I haven’t gotten a bad report on that kid since.
Connor doesn’t learn that way. Let’s just say that we have a local exorcist on speed dial. We’re still trying to figure out what gets his attention. Granted, he is two. But I’d already figured out Gabe’s kryptonite at this age, so I’m hopeful that Connor’s will turn up soon.
Connor is not all bad, obviously. He can be so sweet and he is smart and wildly independent. I know his independence can eventually be great thing. Gabe has to work for things; not that he’s stupid or slow, because he’s not. But if you’ve kept up with my posts you know what little road blocks Gabe has had to learn around. Connor comes by things naturally and with ease; he clearly does not have all the disadvantages Gabe does. And I’m thinking that’s a big part of his current problem. He knows what he wants and he knows how to get it; he just can’t quite figure out how to communicate that. It will come, in time… and with that time his attitude will smooth out. Until then, I’ll be over here hugging myself, with or without the help of a jacket. The Terrible Twos are here… and I’m still not ready for them.
*No children were harmed in the writing before, during, or after this post.
**Day drinking was also not a factor.