My Neglected Second Child

My poor, poor daughter gets so many pitying looks from first-time mommas.

The way I parent her is a million times different from the way I parented my son when he was her age.

I haul her around in a hand-me-down, slightly stained blue umbrella stroller. Her brother glided around in a deluxe designer stroller. I, like many first-time moms, gave in and bought the fancy-schmancy ride for my son. Yes, it’s great, but nope, it’s not so great while also managing a preschooler who never stops moving. With two kids in the family, it is rare to have one free hand, let alone two. I need a stroller I can pick up with my pinkie and throw in the trunk, completely assembled.

I had my daughter in the fancy stroller the other day (while scrounging for cheap toys and funky sweaters at Value Village) and a young mom sidled up to me and asked casually, “So, how do you like the Peg?” It took me a few minutes to realize she was talking about the stroller. I guess my children are getting older because I no longer recognize new-mommy-stroller-lingo. 😉

My daughter is often completely neglected at the park. A few months ago I took the kiddies to the playground near our house. As we pulled up, I let them loose from the constraints of stroller (my daughter) and bike helmet (my son). I always feel like yelling, “Release the hounds!” as they run wildly to whatever catches their fancy at our new child-proof neighbourhood park.

Anyways, on this particular afternoon there was only one other child there, a little boy close in age to my daughter (about 18 months at the time). He was accompanied by both of his parents and was obviously their first and only child. The little guy couldn’t take a step without some sort of comment of encouragement from both parents. At every trip or stumble they both jumped to attention. It was sort of cute, for the first few minutes.*

I was busy helping my son strap into a safety swing for 5-10 year olds (?) way across the park and had half an eye on my daughter. I saw her move towards a ladder that led to a medium-sized slide. The look on the other parents’ faces as my daughter climbed up and went down that slide alone was total shock.**  She survived. Now, a few months older, she proudly announces, “I did it!” when she lands at the bottom without falling.

Oops

My daughter is continually harassed by her five-year-old brother. The other day it was raining and he was bored. I gave him an old diaper box to do something with. He made a “toddler trap,” complete with bait (a soother and a cookie) and chased his poor sister around, trying to drop it on her head.

Toddler trap

Interestingly enough, I’m noticing many, many benefits to her being (slightly) neglected. My daughter is fiercely independent. She can say “no!” in a loud, confident voice over and over; a trait that I hope will come in handy when she is a teenager.

She can entertain herself for ages “reading” stacks and stacks of books and magazines.

iphone mid 2012-March 2013 776

She finds and gets what she needs by hauling around a kitchen chair or old plastic stool.

iphone mid 2012-March 2013 840

But most important of all, she has a built-in hero, confidant and ally in her older brother. A bit of “neglect,”  a lot of independence and a best buddy for life.

iphone mid 2012-March 2013 846

*I was totally this mom when I only had one child.

**Just so you know I’m not a total slacker…I was running  at warp-speed-that-feels-like-slow-motion and got there just as she landed on the soft mulch on the ground. By the way, why on earth do they use mulch at children’s parks? It’s like inviting children to play in a lumberyard and then being surprised when they get slivers.

What is different about the way you parent your second (or third or fourth) child?

Advertisements

13 responses

  1. That toddler trap was genius! Glad you got a photo of that! You bring up so many good things about the way parenting changes after the second child. In many ways, I think having a second child teaches you more about being a parent than the first one…mostly because your inability to be everything to both of them forces you to realize that kids can learn things for themselves. We don’t have to be there coaching them every second. Sometimes ignoring our kids for awhile is the best way to parent them.

    1. Yes! Sometimes I feel guilty that I’m ignoring them, but then I feel proud that they are so independent.

  2. That’s how I parent my first child – I’m ahead of the curve!!!

    1. You are full of awesomeness.

      1. Ha! I’m just lucky he’s really good at playing by himself. Any “awesomeness” is purely coincidental.

  3. This post is very honest. I actually seem to be “neglecting” my first child more than my second. I always have P2 on my hip and P1 runs about doing whatever she wants to – within reason.

    1. That’s a good point. When my second was just a baby, she often got more attention than my first. My son watched way too much TV in the months after his sister was born.

      1. That’s exactly what’s happening in my house. Unfortunately it’s effecting her behaviour 😦

  4. Thank you for your opening line about the first time parents giving pity looks. All my friends have just one child and I feel judged sometimes for my very laid back style with my youngest (now 14 months).

    1. Just wait until your youngest is a little older…the independence s/he will have is amazing. 🙂

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: