Thursday, July 26, 2007

When the second child comes calling

The arrival of the first child in the family is a very great moment that the whole family rejoices in. For the couple it is the culmination of their love and the anticipation of bringing in a new life, experiencing motherhood and fatherhood and all the excitement and anxiety that goes along with this special moment.

Once the baby is born the first time mother and father and if they live in an extended or joint family then one can realize how much of pampering and caring goes into bringing up the first born. We as mothers will be ultra careful, very, very protective and watchful with every little thing that they do. It is but natural for the first time mother.

Gradually the child gets very accustomed to this and feels that he or she has all the right to demand things from all his loved ones and to see that it gets fulfilled in the shortest possible time. He or she is literally the apple of everyone’s eye.

Now right from the beginning it has been my personal experience that having a big family with lots of sisters and brothers to play with is the most happiest part of growing up. We are four sisters and we all went through periods of joy of playing together, jealousy, fights, pains of growing up as well as helping each other out, rejoicing in each others achievements, feeling pain when my sister left to another place to study, not wanting to let my elder sister go away when she got married as we would miss the happy foursome that we were. Infact other children would always love to come and play at the four sister’s place as we were famously called.

So with this background I had the notion that when I would get married I would like to have a big family of my own. I wanted my children to go through the same experience of enjoying life with siblings as well as having no dearth of company and enjoying life. Considering today’s high cost of living and the amount of attention that each child needs to have my dream of raising a family of many children sized down to two though I would have been much happier with a large brood.

Since deciding on two I thought it would be great to have ideally one boy and one girl so that I could experience the joys of bringing up both, although I did not mind much with any possible combination, but I thought I would enjoy having girls as we were all girl family .Anyways as destined I have two wonderful boys now aged eleven and nine. It was my view that I would prefer a gap of two years as things will still be fresh in my memory of bringing up my first child and it would be ideal for the child to have someone closer to his age to play with.

Initially it was a little difficult looking after both of them but I am lucky that my in-laws stay with me and they are a great help even today.

We started involving my elder son from the time I was expecting. We would talk to him, show him pictures of his when he was a little baby and how he will have another baby to play with. So on the D day he was looking forward to having a baby brother or sister with whom he could play with.

Once the second child came home I was at my mom’s place and my first child was admitted to school around the same time. He adjusted very well in school and also to all the major changes that was taking place around him. He would cuddle the baby first thing when he came back from school, play for some time and enjoy talking to his baby brother.

As the baby grew a little and started demanding more attention from us that was the time that I felt I had to be careful not to let things affect my elder son. Since the second one was still small though very individualistic I would involve my elder son in all the things like helping me get the child’s clothes, letting him feed the baby with the bottle, carrying him, going to the park and playing. With this kind of giving them the importance of looking after the baby and boosting his pride of being a big brother helped to a large extent. Though all this looks easy it was not so sometimes because generally I am sure you would have noticed the second born have a strong mind of their own, more independent and we as mothers because of experience with the first born, or because of too many thing to do at that stage of time pay a lot less attention than compared to the way we indulge our first born. As a result the second born are more naughty, impish and know how to get things done with their natural charm.

Now the first born are more sensitive and need much more attention as this is the time that they feel the first signs of jealousy and what we term in child development as sibling rivalry. As a mother we have to have a lot of patience, understanding and maturity in handling both the children so that the psyche of the elder child is not affected and also see to it that he will not develop hatred towards his sibling.

Towards this end all the family members need to cooperate and understand towards being impartial, avoid taking sides and first and foremost I think it is a great mistake that one generally tends to do is telling the older child always that he must understand and be mature and that his brother is still small so he better behave. Come on, he is still small and going through a tough phase of adjusting. So I would try and equally scold both or most of the times reason it out with both of them.

Despite all this I could find my elder child going through the phase of throwing temper tantrums and feeling jealous of his younger brother and trying to be one up in every thing that the younger one would do. It was a difficult phase for me to try and juggle both of them and trying to do justice to both. Also there was an understanding between me and my husband as to where both of us had to draw a line, both of us agreeing to certain rules that we both had to abide because children are smart enough to take us for a jolly ride if they know that one parent is being lenient .Even if I was wrong in some thing I tell my husband to let me know later on in private if he did not agree on some thing that I would say but never ever in front of our children. So children also know that they cannot take advantage of this conflicting situation.

Now that they are growing up to be more mature I find that it was all worth the effort. I find that both of them miss each other if one is out for a long time. It gladdens my heart when my elder son tries and helps his younger brother if he has difficulties in his school work, my elder son learning to be bolder like his younger brother. I also see the worry on their face when one of them falls sick. It is nice to see them planning and plotting as to how they would like to capture the poke’mon on their game boy. Best is when they fight and when we try and sort it out both of them defending each other and leaving us gaping.

That is when I felt that the two will forever share a special bond through out their life and will cherish all the memories of their childhood later in life.

So let us at least try and have if not a big family at least one sibling with whom they can cherish the moments in life. So parents, those who are planning to have one more addition in the family go ahead and increase your brood (here I must say population experts will sue me for advocating this policy). At the same time it was too late for me when I realized that adopting a child could also have been an option as that way I would have got a big family that I wished for and at the same time given that child a chance and at the same time taking care of the population.

Well whatever it is I would certainly advocate the policy More the Merrier.

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