A Household Word Column By Carol Band
Yesterday my son needed a baby picture of himself to bring to school. Heís a third child, so we donít have any. Instead, I dug out one of the millions of baby photos of his older brother. (Hey, they look enough alike!) But lately Iíve been worried that the money I saved on film processing may have to be used for therapy. I worry that being a third kid might be psychologically scarring.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I expected the world to sit up and take notice. And it did. My pregnancy was a novelty. Strangers in the supermarket had no qualms about asking me if I planned to breastfeed, co-workers waged bets on my due date and my mother-in-law hosted a baby shower that netted an umbrella stroller and enough booties to outfit a team of sled dogs.
But, when I was pregnant with my third kid, nobody really noticed. I was just pregnant ... again. Everyone assumed that it was a mistake. Strangers in the supermarket felt free to lecture me on the evils of overpopulation. When I was pregnant with my third kid, nobody threw me a baby shower. Everybody thought that since all the furniture in my living room was made by Fisher-Price that I must not need any more baby stuff. But they were wrong.
By the time my third kid came along, all the bibs were stained, all the picture books were ripped and the stroller had been converted into a go-cart. The childhood of my third-born has been a vastly different experience than that of my first two kids. Letís take a look:
The first child: Had a bureau bulging with stacks of tiny sailor suits and dry-clean-only sweaters that were worn just for photos.
The second child: Wore only pink. (After two years of primary colors and T-shirts with trucks on them, Grandma was itching to buy pink.)
ird child: Tells his friends that there are no "girl colors."
The first child: Was shielded from sugar and white flour until kindergarten. Other kids taunted him when he insisted that the rice cakes in his lunch box were cookies.
The second child: Ingested no sweets until her brother went to kindergarten.
ird child: Teethed on siblingsí popsicle sticks. Sister mixed strawberry powder into his bottle hoping that pink milk would turn him into a girl.
The first child: Played with new Legoô sets. When he was obsessed with pirates, we bought pirates.
The second child: Pretended little Legoô pirates were Barbieísô babies.
ird child: Played with Legosô and Barbieô shoes that he found under the couch cushions.
The first child: Goes to piano lessons, soccer practice, French class and tai kwan do.
The second child: Takes ballet.
The third child: Spends afternoons in the backseat driving to other kidsí lessons.
The first child: Wants a puppy. Gets one.
The second child: Wants a kitten. Gets a little brother.
The third child: Wants a little brother. Gets sea monkeys.
The first child: Carries lunch (whole wheat bread, lean turkey, fruit) to school in a new lunch box.
The second child: Carries lunch (pb&j on white) to school in lunch box with brotherís name on it.
The third child: Buys lunch.
The first child: Parents are convinced that heís a genius.
The second child: Parents think that sheís gifted.
The third child: Parents are glad he has a sense of humor.
The first child: Birthday party features a three-layer cake made from scratch.
The second child: Birthday party features a grand cake from the local bakery.
The third child: Whenís that kidís birthday?
Actually, that kidís birthday is coming up. Heíll be 9 at the end of this month. He wanted to have a few friends sleep over to celebrate, but I have a better idea. This year, instead of a birthday party, I think someone should host a baby shower. The shower that I never had. The shower that I am owed. After all, my baby needs a lot of things. Heís outgrown his sisterís sneakers and his brotherís old jeans are all ripped at the knees. His sea monkeys are dead and heís starting to suspect that pink just might be a girl color. The baby shower doesnít have to be elaborate, just a few finger sandwiches, a three-layer cake and plenty of brand-name clothes for a size 8-slim boy. Donít worry, Iíll take lots of pictures.
Carol Band writes about family life for United Parenting Publications. E-mail her at email@example.com.
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From United Parenting Publicatons, May 2003.