Full disclosure time: I have not parented my children with an equal hand. This may be why Selah can be a bit whiny and Asher is so angry. And Noah? Awww, he’s just a wittle baby.
But here’s the thing I have learned: children are like snowflakes. They come in all different shapes and sizes, and they need different kinds of encouragement, to bring out their…Oh, who am I kidding? I’m just making stuff up as I go, and as I have more children, my parenting is becoming more and more reactionary. But a nicer spin on “reactionary” is “customized,” or “tailored to the current needs of the child.”
Selah was our firstborn. When she was born, I was at my peak of parenting know-how. I had read the books, chosen my path and discipline methods, and was armed with the self-esteem and confidence that only a childless person can have. I wasn’t exhausted yet. And I had certainly witnessed the kind of parenting I knew I would never dole out to my children.
The thing is, Selah was kind of a trainee baby and then child. She never ran away as a toddler (she basically didn’t even learn to run until she was about three), and we were able to tell ourselves, “We don’t need to babyproof. She just needs to learn ‘no.'” And she did learn no. I remember, when she was nine months old, she crawled toward this fireplace. “No,” I said firmly from across the room. She looked over her shoulder at me, and when she saw my stern face, her face crumpled and she started to cry. I enjoyed the smug feeling that I was doing it all right.
Sure, I was still irrational at times, high on hormones and low on sleep, but there were only a few instances of major crazy. Like the time I really needed a nap when she was a newborn, and she wouldn’t fall asleep, and I finally shouted, “Shut up!!” and it turned out she actually had a dirty diaper. [Hide face in shame.] But overall, I still had all the knowledge. As she grew, I tried to allow natural consequences to largely do the disciplining, and keep in dialogue with her. I know. Dialogue with a two year old. And it worked! If you tell her why she shouldn’t do something–she usually doesn’t do it.
Selah Not Throwing Things in the Car
Our next child was a boy. Here’s the thing. We have friends with sons, a number of them, and I didn’t understand these friends or their sons. They would come over to play with Selah, and while she was busy setting objects up into patterns, they would be breaking all of our stuff. Our neighbors came over to play with her sandbox, and somehow wound up wetting the sand and flinging it against our house, where it stuck like concrete.
Then God gave us Asher. When he was a little baby, I still knew everything, and I was still perplexed by other boys’ wrestling matches and destruction.
Baby Asher, Enjoying Life and Staying Where We Put Him
Then, once he was walking well, everything fell apart. My sweet baby turned into a busy boy. He started running. He started running away. I stopped going to the park because there was no point. He would just leave. Not wander and explore–he would plain leave the park and never come back.
Asher Eating Something While Friend Looks on Disapprovingly
When he and Selah were running down the hall together, he fell and broke his head open on the corner of the wall.
Broken-Head Asher Climbs on the Dog
By this time, I was pregnant again. Probably about the time Asher broke his face, we found out that this new baby was…a boy.
“It’ll be good. It’ll be OK,” my friend Kelli informed me. “They will be great friends. You won’t have any pictures anywhere in your house that still have glass in them, and they will only break your stuff, but it will be OK.”
When Noah was born, I was tremendously overwhelmed. But not particularly by Noah. Thing is, once you have three kids, babies are easy! So easy in fact, that he was occasionally forgotten and often ignored. Don’t get me wrong: I also doted on him. In fact, I thanked him often for not arguing, not running away, and loving me so much that he was 100% happy with some cuddles.
The Only Non-Monster in the House
First Family Photo: All Children Crying Except Baby
The thing is, Asher was kind of jealous of this new baby that I was cuddling whenever I knew where he was. He was still a baby too. So though he liked this new baby, he was kind of mad at his parents. He started hitting people at school. We ended up barking at him a lot. Selah was jealous that Asher was getting all this attention, so she upped the whining a bit. Basically, we had a baby, a toddler who acted like a baby, and a kindergartener who acted like a toddler.
Things get better, and then they get worse. Asher adapted to having a baby around, but then…Noah learned to walk. And everybody kept gushing about it. This made Asher act out a bit. He started hitting people at school. I know, he was already doing that, blah blah. Oh, and Noah also learned to climb. Onto chairs. Onto the coffee table. Onto the dining room table.
Table Surfing Baby
So now I have three children, and two are boys. That’s two mobile boys. And the problem is, Noah has an older brother to learn from, so now I have a three year old that acts like a young toddler, and a young toddler who acts like a three-year-old boy. I don’t know what Selah acts like most of the time, because I can’t hear her over all of the din. I wouldn’t blame her for jeering, “Why don’t you just teach them ‘no’?” but I hear she’s pretty nice. Oh, and I’m saving up for her therapy bills.
All Three Kids Smiling at the Same Time, Captured on Film