I am tempted to ask if other parents and first and second-born-s agree that the second child is born with special skills to shake any smugness out of their parents, unlike the first born who lets you think you have done a great job… Do you think this is true?
The above is the question that the Indianhomemaker or IHM as she is known, has tagged me to answer. Hmmm…. The question itself is innocuous and easily answerable. What makes (now why the hell is MS Word telling me that I should use ‘make’ in the sentence here instead of ‘makes’??) me shake in her non-existent boots is thoughts about the aftermath of answering it. Is it wise at all to attempt to answer this tag? Hmmm….. On the one hand I myself am the eldest, who according to IHM are angels. Let me also make it clear I am not saying the opposite holds true of my siblings. There are two of them and one of them blogs! On the other hand I have a pair of monkeys … ok Martians, sorry sons, (anyway its all the same, people) and this sort of analyzing is going to land me in boiling hot water. Anyway who is afraid of a little hot water, boiling or not? Not me! With a sciatica ridden leg and a painful heel that has me limping around the house, a little hot water is always welcome. Good to soak my feet in. So here goes….
Ages ago, when I was a young girl in her twenties was born to me the First Born (hereafter referred to as FB nothing to do with Facebook, the social networking site). Gently skimming over the nights FB kept me awake, he following US timings as regards sleep even in those days and the near and dear ones of the Know-All Older Brigade going into frenzy about it (Why is the baby getting up so often at night?) conveniently forgetting that FB slept so soundly during the day for hours together amidst the day to day activities (Hmmm I wonder if the silence which he so loves now bothered him those days?!!) and trying to pin the blame (The baby is hungry, top feeding will solve things, a bottle would do the trick, tra-la-la and la went the ‘wise-my-foot‘ Know-All Older Brigade) on Poor Me who, though an inexperienced and first-time Mom without a single soul to speak up for her, dug her two tiny size 4 feet in, like Balaam’s ass (and I mean the animal, thank you Wodehouse) insisting that she would not only breast-feed her FB and subsequent children if any but also bring him, and subsequent children if any, up the way she wanted to, we arrive at toddler-hood. Long sentence?? Take deep breaths. The faintness will pass.
A delightful child, obedient, loving, prepared to listen to reason at all times – that was FB as a toddler. Let me add here that I got the opportunity to bring him up away from Interfering and Well-meaning (my-foot again) Grandparents and Relatives and that helped a lot in achieving the listening to reason part of the FB. Other Parents were all praise whenever I took the FB to their houses. He was so different from their brats. They sighed over him, “What a lovely child! He doesn’t trouble you!” I beamed. He never ran loose in other people’s house, break valuables or give cheeky or rude back- answers. He was Mom’s little helper. even rolling out rotis at four years of age in a reasonably round shape which even the Lord and Master couldn’t manage. He would never ask me to carry him however tired he was from walking once he was told his Mom was not keeping well and was unable to do so.
Apart from beaming at Other Parents, I also patted myself on the back. Wow, I was doing a great job. Yeah it’s true that the FB enjoyed pulling little Pooja’s hair when ten months old. When he was 15 months old, his hobby was pushing Shweta and making her cry while her Mom and I were occupied in yakkety yak yak.. At two he was pulling his cousin Lakshmi’s hair, never letting go till he had pried a few strands. But these hair-pulling and pushing adventures, me the young first-time Mom could handle with ease and panache. The FB loved his books and listening to stories. He would obediently turn on his side and go to sleep after reading ALL his ABC books and listening to about a million (oh you think that’s too high a number? Hmm… perhaps it had been only a couple of hundreds!) stories. The FB was a curious child, with an extra inquisitive mind, argumentative, yet soft spoken. But then what are Moms for if not to answer questions and argue back? All in all I was a Pleased as Punch Mom, smug in the knowledge of a job well done.
Precisely five years and ten months later was born the Second Born (hereafter referred to as SB and has nothing to do with the leading banking institution State Bank of India). Once again gently skimming over the initial days when the baby SB slept soundly waking only at infrequent intervals unlike the FB, looked after single-handedly by the now Experienced and Confident Young Mom, ready and willing to thumb her nose openly at any member of the Know-All Older Brigade who dare make any Silly Suggestions to her on How To Go About Taking Care Of A Baby, which Aggressive Attitude resulted in peace prevailing all-around (Thaadi ulla appaneye pediyullu goes a Mallu saying. Loose translation: Only the one with a beard is feared and this let me hasten to add, is metaphorical and in no way implies that I suddenly sprouted one when SB was born), we arrive at SB’s toddler-hood.
A delightful child, blue-eyed (no metaphor this) and dimpled. Obedient, loving, prepared to listen to reason,.. Errrr… ummm…. Something seems to be wrong. Ok, let me start all over again and try to get it right this time. Delightful child, blue-eyed, dimpled and loving and with a mind of his own. There I knew I’d get that right. At two he refused to wear the dress I had chosen for him not knowing that he wanted to have a say in things, and determinedly marching into the bedroom, climbed on the cot, imperiously waved his cute chubby baby hands and pointed at the one he wanted to wear. Hmmm…. Come on sweet little baby bedtime, let me tell you a story. The story session would start. A few minutes into the story, he would get up and tell me decisively, “Illa Amma! Angane alla. Jnaan parayam” (No Mom, Not that way, let me tell you) and proceed to tell me the story making the same characters of the story do whatever he wanted them to and finishing off the story in no time, then go and do his own thing, like arranging the books (or anything he found) in a row and pretending it was a train.
The SB had (still has) a LOUD voice (The Creator sent us a model with the volume control knob missing, I have always maintained) which voice he used at maximum capacity to achieve his goals. Not that this Mom was/is scared of LOUD voices, only of lizards, chameleons and mice, errr… maybe thunder too. Having the Lord and Master at home during SB’s early days, certainly cramped my style of functioning. L & M may be tall and huge compared to my puny self, five feet nothing and trying to tip the scale at 42 kgs. But he was putty in the SB’s hands. What most adults (please exclude me from the list) are ignorant of: children are pretty smart, smarter than adults who think they are smart. If you aren’t careful they wind you around their little finger and make you dance and not just the salsa but even some little known dance form of some tribe living in remote African jungles. Many a parent willingly dances till a few years down the line they wake up from the trance and go into the next parent mode which is the ‘today’s generation blah blah blah…and blah’ mode giving the children the necessary ammunition to go into their ‘you don’t understand me you old fogies’ mode. You see the catch in the dance routine? It is for a reason they say catch them young. Well, I have digressed as usual! Sigh, but that’s nothing new.
The SB ‘borrowed’ the FB’s toys, broke them, ordered him around imitating me of course. The small fact that I was the Mom, FB the elder brother seemed never to enter his tiny brain. Travelling with SB was a nightmare. He wouldn’t sit still unlike FB who was content looking out of the window of the train for hours together. SB never sat still at any time, which made my Aunt remark that she understood the secret behind my hour-glass figure. He clamored to go to school with elder brother. But when it was time to go he screamed his head off forcing the helper to abandon the cycle for fear that both of them would fall and hurt themselves and so carried him to school on his shoulder. He just did not like school.
With the arrival of SB, I stopped patting myself on the back. The beam was replaced with bewilderment. One of my cousins laughed at me,
“Chechi, how could you think you would get two of them in the same mold?”
Err.r…. ummm… Of course that’s what I had thought, but instead was rudely woken up from my idyllic dreams. You bet the smugness was shaken out of me! But come to think of it, was there such a difference?? One argued for hours though in softer tones, the other in louder tones and walked off mid-sentence. The FB never said ‘No’ when asked to run errands, but always forgot to do whatever was asked of him. The SB not only remembers, but calls from wherever he is to ask if I need something. There is more. I am the prim-and-propah Mom when out with the FB. With the SB, it is more like I am his younger sis. But however different they are, unlike some parents who discriminate between their children (Don’t even try telling me no parents do that!), for me they are the same, my children. Period.
An afterthought: Hmmm…. With all these differences, how come they both are so similar when it comes to their messy rooms??
Updated on 23/08/2012 with a link to: