“Oh she’s your second! You’ll be ok then, you’re an expert…”
HAHAHAHA!!!! How hilarious is that term!? No offence, Jo Frost, but personally I think Parenting Experts are right up there with unicorns, rocking horse poo and long, hot British Summers.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand a person can take parenting very seriously, because I myself am in that gang. A person can take a keen interest in behaviour management and sleep techniques; they can be fully aware of the latest safety guidance and healthy eating tips, hell they might even have some letters after their name and a big, fat university loan but none of this makes a person an expert in parenting. Even if you think you’ve got it nailed with your first child, you’re undoubtedly screwed when your second comes along because no two children are the same. In fact, some are like chalk and cheese. Like mine, for instance.
Take sleep, for starters. Rose, our eldest daughter, slept through from 8 weeks old. She also never clambered onto any furniture and hates getting dirty. Her sister, Willow, on the other hand is yet to treat us to more than a week of all-nighters and she’s ONE next week. (Seriously. *yawn*) She’s also started heart-attack-inducing climbing this week and loves nothing more than to smoosh as much food into her hair as she possibly can.
Rose hates having her hair washed (good job it’s usually clean…), asks to wear a bib at mealtimes and enjoys donning a hat when the season requires it. Willow laughs her food-crusted head off when you tip water over her face, rips her (food-crammed) bib off at any given opportunity and flings it’s contents as far as she can – oh, and almost did herself a mischief trying to remove a chin-tied sunhat this Summer.
Rose took steps at 10 months, never really rolled much and struggled through teething, foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog. Willow took her first two steps just last week and can gorilla-crawl that bloody fast I can’t see her having any desire whatsoever to get up on two feet on a more permanent basis. Before perfecting the silverback shuffle she merrily rolled her way around the room, delighting in being able to make it exactly where she wanted to go. Oh, and the selection of beautifully bright dribble bibs we have are totally going to waste because, three teeth later, she doesn’t dribble. Never has. Not. One. Drop. (Weirdo).
Rose can’t stand being told off and fully understood that no meant no from a very young age. She doesn’t leave my side in public and tells me off if I don’t take her hand quickly enough in car parks/near roads. Willow thinks “no” is a hilarious term which actually means “Please go ahead and do that again!! Several times! While grinning like a Cheshire Cat, because that helps Mummy to hold a stern expression!!” and she will happily crawl off towards anyone or anything – strangers, knives, fire… the more dangerous, the better. She’s literally had her fingers burned and doesn’t appear to have learnt anything at all from it.
What they do have in common is how happy they are. Our smiley, happy girls. They are also both blonde-haired, blue-eyed cuties with clever and cheeky tendencies. And they are SO loved. And, do you know what, I think my absolute favourite thing about having two children is seeing them grow up into such different little people – even if that has me doubting myself on an almost-daily basis. Is it my fault Willow isn’t sleeping through? Is Rose’s cleanliness a little bit OCD? Is Willow messy because she’s left to her own devices too often and is she climbing on things to get my attention? (Mission. Accomplished.) Is she not walking yet because she’s not had enough encouragement?! And will she talk as well as Rose when I don’t get as much time to chat to her?!
Guilt. Self doubt. Blame. More guilt. Well, quite frankly, sod it. If my potential ‘neglect’ means Willow continues to grow into a chilled, flexible, brave, independent and adventurous little lady then that’s all good with me. Until then I’d better go and run a bath, we’ve got a spaghetti hoops situation on our hands (face, hair, walls, etc) and Rose will not be happy about all this mess…