I wrote this when Abby was only eleven months old. It is all still true today.
I have two children.
My firstborn is my son. My loving, cautious, wanting-nothing-more-than-to-please-you, oh-so-so-sweet baby boy. He was an easy baby, with the exception of a brief period of infant reflux, which really didn’t last as long as it seemed to at the time. He slept when we wanted him to sleep, ate when we wanted him to eat, and once he was old enough to understand, he listened when we told him no. Even as he reached toddlerhood we found that we could sometimes reason with him. At an age in which reasoning isn’t easy, and can sometimes be impossible, he seemed to understand and listen – most of the time. Time-out has been a great tool to discipline him. He takes it seriously – most of the time – and he learns from it. That doesn’t mean that he never repeats his mistakes, or never continues on with his offense even after being warned. If he was perfect he would never have to sit in time-out. But he is such a gentle soul and he wants nothing more than to be good.
My daughter is my second child. As I type this, she is only eleven months old. At such a young age, you might think that I couldn’t possibly judge her character to a degree to know if she oozes goodness as my son does, or if she is someone quite the opposite. But I can. She is difficult – a beautiful difficult – the kind that makes you smile or laugh when you know you shouldn’t be. She is the kind of difficult that loves to be scolded. Her eyes sparkle when you tell her no and a bashful smile pushes her big, adorable cheeks to her ears. She repeats her offenses with joy and anticipation of your reaction, regardless of how negative that reaction might be. She tries to climb the steps, tries to stick her fingers in the electrical outlets, and if you turn your back for one minute she will be in the other room standing at her brother’s art easel eating the green paint. I predict that time-out will not be effective for her. She will probably laugh at us when we try to punish her. She will probably ask for more punishment just to show us that she doesn’t care. And yet, as frustrating as she may make our lives with temper-tantrums and stubborn power struggles, part of me will always be thankful that she is so strong willed.
While I encourage my son to take risks, move past his failures, and not take life too seriously, I will also find myself pulling my daughter back to me and begging her to think before she acts, reminding her that she’s part of a bigger picture, and to find adventure in the everyday goings-on of life. I hope that one day I am able to look back and remember the paths that brought these two, very different children into adulthood. I’m sure that those paths will be filled with many emotions, but mostly love – because, as every mother is entitled to believe, I have the most magnificent two children on earth and they are loved by every ounce of my being.