Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Easy Child Syndrome

You're not supposed to label your kids, but I'm going to anyway. The Boy is, and has always been, my easy child. As an infant, he was calm, sweet, and honestly the most well behaved baby you could ask for. He nursed like a champ and I have warm, fuzzy memories of him gazing up at me with his gorgeous blue eyes (one with a speck of brown in the middle). I had the good fortune of being able to stay home with The Boy for a year after he was born. During that time, he almost never left my lap. He was just a sweet, quiet, easy baby.

My children’s current personalities are definitely related to their behavior as infants, so it comes as no surprise to me that he’s a sweet, quiet, and easy boy today. Most of the time, he follows the rules. When he does get into trouble, he doesn’t throw a fit. He accepts the consequences for his behavior with a dignity and grace beyond his years. He’s a fabulous brother. I shouldn't make it sound like he's up for the sainthood - he gets into plenty of arguments with Bumblebee and Hollywood. But you’ll never see a brother help out his little sister when she needs it better than The Boy does, and he looks up to his older sister with open admiration.

I could go on, but lots of you probably have to get back to work, so I’ll continue down the path to the point of this post. He’s a great kid. But it’s this easygoing greatness that allows him to naturally get brushed aside for the frantic activities of his older sister, or the juvenile needs of his younger one. Hollywood and I have a lot of similar interests – the music we listen to, the shows we watch, our running, etc. She’s also just a more outgoing person and she jumps in there to grab her share of my attention and then some. Bumblebee is the cherished, probably a teeny bit spoiled, baby of the family. She’s still little, and as such, needs help with her bath, getting dressed, and so on. She gets a story read to her each night and we lay down with her to help her sleep. These activities are further withdrawals from the ‘time with mom’ bank. So where is the time for The Boy?

I don’t think this is necessarily a ‘middle child’ phenomenon. I think it’s an ‘easy’ child thing. Let’s face it, some kids require more hands on attention than others. It’s a shame that the ‘easy’ kid gets the shaft just because he doesn’t complain or throw a tantrum. Of course you can’t measure these things, but I feel that The Boy is most certainly not getting a full third of me. But here’s the kicker… he’s such a ‘go with the flow’ kind of kid that he never complains about it. He doesn’t act up, sulk, pout, or try something outrageous to get my attention. Instead, he takes what he can get of me and always thanks me for it.

Can you believe that? He thanks me for spending time with him. When I ask him to go running with me, he jumps at it – even when I asked him to run at 6 o’clock in the morning with me yesterday. The kid would a million times rather play his GameBoy or read a book than go out for a jog. But because I ask him to and it’s a good chance to get alone time with me, he never turns me down. If I suggest a game of chess, he’ll drop whatever he's doing and sprint into his room to get his chess set. And always, afterwards, I get a hug and a “Thanks mom, for doing X with me! You're the best!” (no, Buddy, you're the best.)

He’s the most polite kid you’ll ever meet, and I love that about him, but it digs deep into me that he feels the compulsion to thank me for my time, my attention. He’s too old for it, but I’d like to pull him onto my lap and squish him to me in a great big snuggle hug and stay there with him for a month. I wish I had more one-on-one time to give to him. I really do. For now, I’ll keep asking him to run with me, and I’ll keep playing chess with him – he finally beat me when we played last. And maybe I'll see if he’s interested in learning to cook with me. It might seem like cheating, using things like exercise and cooking, things that I have to do in my daily routine anyway, to sneak in some more individual attention for him, but I’m nothing if not a fabulous multi-tasker.

I have five younger brothers. Growing up, I don’t remember there ever being a shortage of Mom’s attention. However, I suspect that if you asked my mom, she’d tell you that I was more like Hollywood; I believe that I naturally took mom’s attention without thought to anyone but myself. “You’re reading a story to Luke? So what? Where did you put the jeans that I need for school tomorrow?!!” (There might have even been a foot stomp in there. I was a lovely child.) I think one or two of my brothers were probably more like The Boy – they coasted along, taking the attention when it was given and enjoyed it while they had it. They didn’t grow up to be serial killers or weirdos, so there might be hope for The Boy.

Please tell me that other parents obsess about these types of things too… It’s ironic that I wrote this post on Bumblebee’s first day of school… Maybe it was fueled by guilt since it’s been nothing but The Bumblebee Show around our house for the past couple of days. Or maybe it was the big bear hug that The Boy gave Bumblebee this morning before school that triggered these thoughts. Hell, it could even be PMS. Yeah, that’s probably it.

*Photo taken the Mother's Day after Bumblebee was born. What a cute bunch of kids...


Tanya said...

Helping my mom cook is one of my favorite childhood memories. Even to this day, we work well in the kitchen together, and its our place to chat. I don't think its bad at all to center your time together around activites (even if they are just chores). I don't think its so much what your doing as much as its that you're doing it together.

Travis Erwin said...

I worry about this with my youngest. I only have two but he simply isn't as needy as my older son and despite all intentions it is a fact that the greasy wheel often gets the grease.

I think it says a lot about your as a mom that you recognize a need and try to keep a balance.

SUV Mama said...

I think it's awesome that you are so in tune with every kid. That's my goal as a Mom- just to be AWARE. Yeah, it would be great to have that perfect balance, but that you are aware of it is better than oblivion.

My 2nd will soon be the middle, and I worry about her- not because she is the middle child, but because she too is the "easy" one. My eldest is quite demanding of our attention- and gets it. She's loud, vivacious, verbal, and amazingly entertaining. The 2nd is simply fantastic (Mary Poppins- perfectly perfect in every way). Seriously. As she screams at her sister. Okay, scratch that. But she's pretty easy. And I need ear plugs.

Mom In Scrubs said...

I never worry because my kids are equally aggressive in their demands for my attention. And they both know when to back off, too. Plato is like The Boy, tho, in that he gives me all kinds of props for what I do for him: Thanks for bringing my backpack to school when I forgot it,'re the best! And so on.

What sweet boys we have. And how lucky we are. We must have had SOMETHING to do with it, don't you think?

Tiffany said...

He is such a handsome little man! Is there any way your could order me up 2 or 3 of those "easy" kids?

I believe that if you have an amazing child, it say something about what an amazing mother you have been!

Debbielou said...

My kids are completely different in both looks and their characters.
I love being with them at every available opportunity and miss them when they are not around.

My eldest is going to secondary school in Sept and we too have had a huge uniform bill.

Wishing Bumblebee luck for school on Wednesday - scary how quickly the years go by.

Thanks for looking in on my Blog whilst I was away -didn't get a chance to update it in Holland x

ALF said...

Those are some cute kids. A mother of three once confided in me that she felt guilty sometimes because she spent more time with one child than the others.

Barrie said...

I totally obsess about all things parents. And, I, too, have an easy child. Interestingly enough, he was the most active in utero!