Thursday, December 4, 2008

The difference between 1st and 4th

My three year old son is so funny. Last night as I was cleaning up after dinner, he said, very seriously, "Mommy, speaking of putting dishes away, can we watch a movie?" At breakfast he got upset when I did not give him the oatmeal with the “color smellables” in it. Huh?
He has been a little slower than his siblings in developing language. He had the right number of words in his vocabulary at the right age, according to our pediatrician, but his words still don’t always make sense. Our oldest child was speaking very clearly, very early. I remember having real conversations with her at 18 months old. I remember her yelling out in the middle of church when she was, maybe two years old, “These books are not cooperating!” Ironically all these years later, she is the quiet one, while her youngest brother talks incessantly about who knows what.
No one knows for sure why children develop at such different rates. I know there have been many books written about the significance of birth order on child development, and on their personalities, as well. I have not read any of them. In my completely unprofessional, untested, and unscientific opinion, the reasons for the difference in development based on birth order is so obvious it is not really worth the effort to conduct a scientific study on it.
Let me illustrate my point. When my oldest was a toddler, I had lots of time on my hands. She was an only child, Tim worked full time, and was in school. We had one car, which he obviously needed most of the time, so my daughter and I were alone together all the time. She not only got my undivided attention, she also provided me with companionship. I knew her personality very well. I , therefore knew what she was capable of, and I held her to a very high standard. If she could speak clearly and communicate her ideas she was definitely not going to get away with baby babble, or pointing and grunting.
Now when baby number four came along......I had a 6 year old, a three and half year old, and a very-close-to-two year old. My life consisted of a changing diapers, doing laundry, back and forth trips to kindergarten with the oldest, meetings at church where I was very involved, keeping two toddlers out of trouble and occupied, feeding them, wiping them, trying to do some housework, and changing more diapers...... I’m not sure I ever talked to him when he was a baby. I do vaguely remember walking around with him on my hip all day and forgetting he was even there half the time. I’d catch his eye every once in a while and then remember, “Oh... baby!” Is it any wonder he is a little slower with his mental advancement?
The thing is, my youngest is such a happy kid. He has always been such a happy kid. I could beat myself up all day feeling guilty that the fourth child has never gotten the same attention from me as the first, but maybe all he really needed was to be with me. It seems that being surrounded by people who love him has benefited the youngest in innumerable ways.
Now, I must go to see if I can get him to explain what he meant when he told me, “you look just like the guy who got fired from Ratatoille.”

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