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By contactus
May 10, 2012
Category: Baby Blog
Tags: Untagged

Exploring the fact that 1+1 doesn't always equal 2.

Jack doesn't get the chance to spend too much time with other children, so when I was asked to   watch a friend's one-year-old for an hour the other morning, I was happy to oblige. When I brought Jack downstairs to see his little visitor and his face beamed with delight, I knew she would be spending the rest of the day with us. 

There are ways in which two children are easier than one, even at 13 and 14 months old.  They were happy to entertain each other: Jack stacked rings and Natalie removed them; Natalie dropped a small stuffed animal on the floor and Jack reached down, picked it up, and handed it to her; Natalie leaned on Jack's back for support when trying to walk, which prompted the cutest scene imaginable: he turned around to face her, and held his arms out across her shoulders, like they were at a junior high school dance.   But just as I was about to get a little too proud of my little gentleman, the screaming began. 

Natalie is a sweet, mellow little girl, but she'll let you know when you've done her wrong. She found Jack's step stool (which has his name on it, so she should have known better) and started pushing it around the kitchen floor.  Jack, seeing his turf invaded, needed to get his stool back.  It wasn't an aggressive push, just a nonchalant takeover of the stool, as if she weren't even there. She screeched, so I asked him to share, for whatever that was worth.  Then she moved on to his stationary musical bike, another favorite of his.  The stool, of course, held no interest for him anymore, so he wormed his way onto the bike with a look on his face like "what's the problem?"  She held her ground and screamed again.

The child care aspect of having two children the same age is much more challenging than one: double the amount of food to prepare, diapers to change, hurt feelings to soothe. But what really got me was the fact that they both seemed to need things at exactly the same time, so there was no way to feel like I was helping one without neglecting the other. This kind of thing has to get easier with practice, because it was exhausting.  My whole routine (and I live by routine) was off kilter, and just about when I thought it was too much, I realized that Natalie was yawning, so I put them both down to sleep.

After their (simultaneous!) naps, I couldn't locate one of Natalie's socks and shoes (one of her cute quirks is that she likes to take her right shoe and sock off). I ended up having to pack her in the car in mismatched socks and no shoes.  This isn't exactly up to snuff for Natalie, since she typically is the best-dressed baby around, but that is the risk someone takes when they leave their child with me.  We headed to the Amherst office to visit their NAP family over lunch.

Later that afternoon, in preparation to bring them outside, I said, "I wonder where Natalie's socks and shoes are? I need to find them so that we can go outside." [Sometimes I wonder where my sanity has gone.  I tend to narrate things all the time now. I found myself at work the other day at a lunch meeting, handing utensils to a colleague and labeling the items as I passed them: "plate," "napkin," "fork."  This is embarrassing]. Within a minute, Jack came in to the kitchen with the lost shoe!  I was equally impressed by both the fact that he understood me AND was able to find the lost item. Just as I was about to look online for baby genius schools, it dawned on me that he was probably the one who moved (or hid!) the shoe in the first place.  After all, he is starting to enter that phase where it is fun to place, throw, and tuck things inside and underneath places: in boxes, under the couch, in the garbage (!) which explains the fact that all of his formally new toys are now missing pieces.

Just as the end of the day approached, they both had the obligatory melt down.  Each of them stopped crying when held, but the child left on the floor then started crying again.  I tried holding both of them, but then they just started pushing each other away, since apparently they each wanted my sole attention.  That is precisely the moment that my friend came to pick up Natalie, since that how it always happens: the day runs smoothly while unobserved, but there needs to be a witness to incompetence.

As things winded down, Jack patted Natalie on the head goodbye. This was an accomplishment in being gentle, but not exactly chivalrous. I didn't have the heart to tell him that in these kinds of interpersonal interactions, this particular move could be interpreted as condescending. We'll keep working on it. 






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