Before I actually became a parent I thought the whole nature vs. nurture thing was split 50/50. Being a parent has taught me I was a complete idiot. Both before and after procreating. Your kid is who your kid is. End of lesson. You can tweak little things, but for the most part you aren’t doing a shit load of molding. Don’t get me wrong, I still try. But if my efforts are rewarded it’s because T has wanted to cooperate, not because I’ve successfully coerced him.
My sister’s son is 6 weeks younger than T. Back when the pair of them were brand new my nephew Gabe was the best behaved baby I’d ever seen. Granted that was 20 months before his little brother was born, and that guy has snatched the title of Best Baby in the History of the Universe right out from under Gabe, but that’s a story for another day. I was mortified by how much T cried compared to G. I was constantly apologizing to the family when we were together that my kid was such a pain in the ass. Dude did cry a lot, especially during the 8ish to midnight witching hours, but he wasn’t a particularly fussy baby. Unless you put him in an head to head comparison with his cousin. Which no one was doing. Except for me. Again being stupid. Comparing two kids is always a terrible idea.
As a treat during that first Christmas vacation after the boys were born my sister and her husband volunteered to watch T so Z and I could have a hot date. Very very kind of them. We weren’t even gone for an hour because I managed to have a big fat anxiety attack at the restaurant and we had to have them pack our stuff to go as soon as it arrived. Going on a date with me is super fun and super sexy. But while we were gone T started his crying nonsense. My brother-in-law had this magic hold he did on G to get him to stop crying. He confidently told my sister he’d take T and calm him right down. He carried him into another room and returned 25 minutes later, T crying just as hard. He was incredibly frustrated and told my sister, “He just won’t stop crying! No matter what I do!” I love this story so much because I have been exactly like my brother-in-law in that moment more times than I can count. I believe every single parent in the world has. At first we all think if we can just get our hands on another person’s kid we’ll be able to solve any problem they are having.
Fast forward a year and a bit. T has developed into a pretty quiet and naturally well behaved kid. His language and fine motor skills are off the hook for his age, but his gross motor skills leave quite a bit to be desired. Dude will sometimes fall down out of the blue when he is just standing there. G’s gross motor skills are bizarrely fantastic. His dad is an avid soccer fan. And G has been dribbling a soccer ball since he was little more than one. Seriously. And he can now drop kick the ball. Kid is just creeping up to 21 months old and he can Drop. Kick. A. Soccer. Ball. I would not have believed it if I hadn’t had the ball sail over my own head. He is being raised bilingual and his speech has been slower in coming when compared with T (again, bad idea to compare to kids), but his comprehension in two languages is fantastic.
Gabe is one of the most willful and wild little people I’ve ever come across. He is a lot of work but sweet as hell. You know how there are some kids who are wild and you sort of feel like they are purposely being little dicks? No? It’s just me? Well, you never feel that way about Gabe. He is somehow incredibly lovable. The bottom line is we all now know better than to compare the two boys. T had turned into an easy toddler, G was definitely an easy baby. Who the hell knows what they will be like as kids, teenagers, adults? And who the fuck cares who is easier at any given point in time? They are two completely different people. I happen to think they are two pretty fantastic kids, totally normal and yet totally extraordinary and we are lucky to have them in our lives.
If my brother-in-law wanted to teach T how to drop kick a ball it doesn’t matter how much time he’d put in, developmentally T isn’t there yet. It simply wouldn’t happen. If I wanted to teach G to say his ABCs I’d be in for a lot of frustration. He is clearly going to be ready soon, but he isn’t quite there today. And all that is cool. So you concentrate on the stuff they are great at and you lay off the stuff they aren’t ready for. And you try and learn to be satisfied with the kid that you’ve got. And you work on making the small differences you are able to make. At this point I feel like I can take credit for the fact that T says please and thank you without being prompted about 30% of the time. But that’s about it. He’s met me at least halfway on everything else.
I don’t mean to suggest we should all just give up and let our kids be exactly who they are without structure. Damned if I’m not going to instill some sort of manners and respect in my guy. I just think we should all be a bit easier on ourselves (and our kids) and recognize they come already programmed in the personality and ability department and we should go ahead and respect that. And we should remember that when our kids are going through rough patches it isn’t due to poor parenting. Just like when they are going through easy patches it isn’t because we are some miraculous rock star baby whisperer parents.
So yes, the secret to raising the most perfect child ever…give birth to the most perfect child ever. You’ll be all set. Otherwise you are totally screwed.
For those keeping score I did fine on the 3 hour glucose screening and do not have gestational diabetes. The nurse strongly suggested I keep on keeping on with the modifications to my diet. Rats. So carrot sticks are in and potato chips are out. Sniffle.