Thursday, 3 April 2008

Second child syndrome

Now I know that this blog has been very Isla-centric up until now. It's not that we don't love and adore Jack, but in many ways the lack of attention we give him is all his fault. If he will sit quietly and sleep through the night, when on earth are we expected to cuddle and coo at him? When he's playing beautifully on his own? When he's eating neatly, self feeding like a pro? No, that would be madness. Now, if he would just make a fuss, cry, scream and generally make his presence felt then he'd get just as much attention as Isla did at this age. More even as Isla would be a third attention giver and earn herself even more stickers for her Barbie fund (she's saving for Ken's Koktail Bar, his only chance since Barbie took the True Love Waits pledge). Anyway, the point is that Jack is our second child and, just as all parents with second children warned us, he comes second.
It's all so scary with your first, with the second you begin to relax a little, mainly because you know his eye isn't going to bulge out if you throw him in the air, or stop breathing just because you stopped watching. But also because the older one already has a schedule (yes a schedule, mock me if you dare but it's fab, taped up on the fridge even. I hope you're never late for Circus Club). You can't rock him to sleep with a bottle at 9.30am and put him down for two-hours-uninterrupted, there are places to go, teachers to smile at, hats and coats to hang up, schedules to keep up with. Now, I don't know about you, but Isla is three years older than Jack and three years is a lot. We had acres of time to fill in those three years, I couldn't keep a live spot open just in case another child came along. So our week is filled I'm afraid, and Jack has had to fit in.

It was so different with Isla, we'd never had to worry before. Worry was something that our parents did that annoyed us greatly and we had to tiptoe and lie around. Husband's mother still doesn't know about his motorbike in the garage. He's thirty-three. (Perhaps we'll tell her on her death bed Husband said bravely, except that'll probably be what does it). Anyway the point is that with each consecutive child things tend to get more relaxed. Friends with three children cheerfully inform me that they'd let their third child juggle knives (First Child was only allowed a plastic spoon until she was ten). In fact if said knives happened to chop a leg half off they'd tell them to go to the doctors themselves. They may give them the bus fare but only if the leg couldn't be walked on and there was no faking-to-get-out-of-school going on.
When Isla first needed to go to the doctor Husband took a day off (took a day off!), it sounds absurd even now and I was half of the decision making process. He even took it as annual leave rather then try to pull a sickie, he couldn't trust his acting abilities under such worrisome circumstances, afterall she had a slightly pink eye.
We arrived at the doctors that day with Isla bundled up in blankets taken fresh from the airing cupboard to ward off any chill and bundled her in, expecting to be fast tracked like the families with terribly hurt children in Holby City. We had to wait like everyone else which did nothing for our heart rates or husband's worry line. Eventually the two of us walked into the doctor's surgery and carefully unwrapped our treasure. It's a bit of a sore eye doctor said Husband in a slightly choked voice, the doctor took an implement and proceeded to look into Husband's eye. To be fair it was quite pink from holiding back tears, and watery. Not mine, Isla's, said Husband. The doctor asking which eye was not the crowning glory of our day but he did eventually look at Isla's diseased eye and generously tutt tutted before asking us to keep and eye on things and bring her back if it developed any pinkness. Thankyou doctor said Husband rising from his seat, I took the day off just in case. Very laudable the doctor muttered in the kind of voice that said he was going to have a good laugh about this with the receptionist later.
Trying to muster a little of our dignity back I chuckled in an embarrassed way and mentioned that Isla was our first child and that we'd be letting our third juggle knives and bring himself to the doctors on his bloodied stump. Quite said the doctor, in the kind of voice that said he'd be asking the receptionist to call social services if I ever mentioned I was pregnant with a third child.
As our second child, Jack is taken to the doctors by me and me alone. Not because we don't worry as much (Husband has two worry lines now and has started buying hair follicle thickener and making me photograph the crown of his head evey month) but it just isn't so alien and scary taking care of this second human being. And anyway, the doctors is near Circus Club and fits right in with the schedule if we only take him on a Thursday. Perfect.

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