Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Why You Should Have More Than One Kid

This is Jonathan:

He is two months old and thinks sleep is best accomplished in ten minute stretches, which, coincidentally, is about the amount of time he goes between diaper fillings.  (Seriously, we should buy stock in Huggies).  Before he was born I thought I would have him on a nice schedule right off the bat (after all, he is my fourth kid... this isn't my first rodeo).  But from the beginning he wouldn't sleep in his own bed for more than a few minutes at a time, and then there was the c-section to recover from, I got a cold, he got a cold, I got the stomach flu, he got RSV (it was like playing Hot Potato with diseases straight from the Mouth of Hell), and somewhere in there my resolve went out the window.  I mean, it is one thing to say you'll make your baby sleep in his own bed, and it's another when he is screaming every ten minutes for the 30th night in a row and you're like OH FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY JUST GET IN MY BED AND SLEEP!!

And that is exactly why you should have more than one kid, if it is possible.  Because every parent can benefit from the equal doses of relief and humility that stem from learning it's not you, it's them.

Jonathan's big sister, for example, earned her first angelic halo by sleeping through the night at four months without a single ounce of prodding from me.  (She also didn't scream in the carseat like it was a Venus Fly Trap trying to devour her, which I've got to say is preferable to the current situation).  Some kids are more mellow than others, and some kids are just better sleepers.  It has nothing to do with how good their parents are.

Granted, you can (and should) teach your children to behave in certain ways.  But let's be real here.  For some kids, the teaching is easier.  You can pat yourself on the back all you want when one of your children is doing well at something, but the fact is that some kids will potty-train at the age of two and some will resist all of your efforts until you decide to bag the whole thing and just let their college roommates train them.  If I had one kid I could say "I'm such a great parent!  I potty trained my two-year-old in one week!"  But you have to shut your mouth once you have another kid who can't get past the idea that the world (including the living room carpet and the pantry) is his urinal.

Another example?  My oldest son is very self-motivated and super organized.  He cleans his room daily without my having to say a word.  His younger brother, on the other hand... nothing short of standing at his door with a flame thrower will get him to clean his room.  And by "clean" I mean dilly-dally his way through a process that usually consists of stuffing half his lego bin and seven pairs of dirty underwear under his dresser.

Does their behavior have anything to do with the way I parent?  Not in the least.  Both boys are required to clean their rooms daily, and both rooms are required to pass inspection.  But for one kid it's a five minute process that he undertakes voluntarily.  For the other it involves the above-mentioned flame thrower, a 3:1 ratio of whining to cleaning, and about fourteen inspections before the job is done satisfactorily.

This is also why you shouldn't get down on yourself as a parent.  Each kid is easy in some ways and difficult in others.  If you're trying your best to be a good parent, you're doing fine.  Having more than one child helps you to recognize this fact and be more compassionate when other parents are struggling.

And besides, there is nothing cuter than siblings.