Age of JQ when he first got into the trash: 9 months.
Age of Ellis when she first got into the trash: 2 years old and she was just throwing something away for me. The only time, she’s had unauthorized trash access was when she discovered a broken wand I tried to throw away and retrieved it, telling me she was very, ‘issapointed in me.
Age of Ellis when she first started crawling: 12 months.
Age of JQ: Nine months if you don’t count the previous month where he spent most of the time flipping backward and rolling.
Age of Ellis when she first self injured: 20 months. It was a small scrape on her knee.
Age of JQ: 10 months. He was trying to climb our trampoline and flipped over, hit his chin on the hard wood floor. When he finished sobbing and bleeding, he went back to trying to climb it again.
Age of Ellis when she learned to talk: 9 months old, she could say “Hi, dada!” Followed quickly, by “Bottle” and “bye-bye.” By 12 months she could say, “More,” “mama,” and “doggy” and “provolone.” She could also make most animal sounds.
Age of JQ: 10 months, he squeals, “DADADADADADA!” when he sees Dave. Other than that, he just yells at us. It usually means, “FOOOOOOD!”
Age of Ellis when she began sleeping 12 hours at night: 8 weeks.
Age of JQ: I’ll let you know when it happens.
It’s hard not to compare my kids. I don’t do this because I value one over the other, but because going from one child to the next has given me whiplash. Parenting JQ has been so radically different than Ellis that somewhere around 6 months, I just quit trying to rely on my past experience and embraced my status as new parent all over again. Except, this time, instead of researching and freaking out (well, I freaked out when he wouldn’t take a bottle), I just roll with the punches.
For example, he does this thing where he just looks at me and shrieks with all his might. He does this to no one else. Just me. He doesn’t want anything. He doesn’t need anything. He just screams. If this were Ellis, I would be crowd-sourcing for help and advice and scanning the books. But this is my second child, so I just scream back, “I DON’T KNOW WHY YOU THINK IT IS APPROPRIATE TO YELL!”
Then, I hand him off to DADADADADADA! and go drink some wine.
I love the balance this kid brings into our home. When E was little and we sleep trained her so early and she’d sit happily and drool on herself when we went out to eat or to people’s houses, we often got nasty stares from other parents who demanded to know why our kid wasn’t flipping out because she couldn’t drink bleach. Dave and I would shrug. But we may have gone home and high-fived each other for producing such admirable offspring. Then, she turned two and we had another baby. And the universe punched us in the face for all those smug high fives.
Looking back, I can’t believe we choose to have two kids so close together. What were we thinking? I blame Ellis. If she had been a harder baby, we might have waited longer. But she saved her crazy until I was six months pregnant with her brother and then hell rained down from above and instead of smug high-fives, Dave and I began to give one another consoling back pats.
This is all to say, JQ isn’t some crazy, nutso baby. He’s just normal. I remember when Ellis was 15 months old and refusing to walk, I took her to the doctor. In order to entice Ellis to stand, the doctor opened a cabinet revealing a supply of bandages and q-tips–Toddler heaven. Ellis scooted over to the cabinet and shut the door and wagged her finger at the doctor, “No!”
Yesterday, JQ fished trash out of the cabinet and ate it. And when I say yesterday, I mean he’s done this almost everyday since becoming mobile.
He is the child we need. The yin to the yang. I alternate between losing my mind and loving him for every clod of dirt he quickly shoves down his little throat. Last year, I bought a double stroller. I chose one that was side by side so that my kids could see one another. It was a sentimental gesture on my part. Why wouldn’t they love to see the world, hand-in-hand? Last week on a walk, JQ spent the whole hour stretching out his body so he could kick Ellis.
She leaned over to ask him to stop and he pulled her hair.
“AH! Mooooom, bubby kicking me!”
“Can you get out of his way?”
She scooted and he stretched.
“He still getting me!”
“Well, he’s a baby. Maybe you can walk?”
She started sobbing. JQ kept kicking.
“Oh bubby,” she cried, “I so ‘issapointed in you!”
In that moment, I was both exasperated with him and really proud. Because, honestly, baby, knock it off. But also, that’s some true dedication to sister annoyance. I texted my brother Zach to tell him about JQ’s commitment to destroying his sister. Zach reminded me of how he would stand behind me and flick my hair until I flipped out. He would also scratch the ceiling of the car* with his fingernails until I cried. Or just standing there flicking the air, not touching me, but not leaving me alone either, until driven insane I would just punch him in the gut. Then, he’d start crying and I would get punished. Just thinking about it now makes me want to drive four hours to Minneapolis and fart in his face. But he has a baby of his own now. An adorable little girl that is ruining him. So, perhaps the earth is balancing itself out always.
*Have you heard that sound? I think the CIA uses it as an enhanced interrogation technique. Even the thought of that sound makes me want to curl up into the fetal position and weep.