In a life, that now feels decades ago, when it was just me with a second baby bump and Pinky (and Hubby of course) friends and strangers all told me about ‘Second Child Syndrome’. At the time I simply vaguely listened, with a small, slightly vacant smile on my face. I didn’t really understand, first time parenting can be very stressful. Scrap that! All parenting is stressful but first time has its own extra charm. Everything is new, no stage has happened to you as parent before and although many stages are easy to embrace some are down right startling. Just because you know the terrible twos exist doesn’t make them any less of a surprise when they arrive. The first ever baby poo you get warned about…. There are no words to really prepare you for that, only experience can ease the shock. Add pregnancy hormones into the mix and everything is seems more overwhelming when talking to friends happily in the two child zone. So the idea that second time around could be easier was appealing but seemed incredibly unlikely.
Then the second labour came. It was easier. I mean realistically it hurt more, it was a longer process (both inductions but one longer than the other) but it wasn’t a shock. The memory of the pain was somewhere buried in my brain. The lack of sleep during labour was less of a shock as I already had had nearly two years parenting experience which comes with its own built-it sleep deprivation department. Quite simply I coped. Then Perky arrived. The sudden flow of love of no less overwhelming but again I expected it. Feeding was easier, also helped by the fact that Perky didn’t have tongue tie unlike Pinky (another story I will leave for another time). In essence although everything has been challenging second time round because I have been through it before the shock aspect is missing. I think it is the surprise element that the first child can utilise is what makes parenting so different first time.
Part of the less shocking parenting means that my approach is more relaxed. Obviously I am as rigid about the whole putting ‘inappropriate unidentifiable objects in the mouth’ thing, and still strict on the whole manners stuff. But second time around I’m more relaxed about most things. This, I think, is much of the cause of the ‘Second Child Syndrome’.
Perky definitely gets away with things Pinky never would have. Part of this is that she has an older sister she wants to keep up with. Perky idolises Pinky and she learns directly from her. In her daily attempt to keep up with her sister her physical stamina is greater, at only 18 months she has practically cut out her daily nap. If she sleeps for an hour it’s been a brilliant day (please insert virtual hug of sympathy here). Her spoken language is slightly slower, she doesn’t tell you what noise a cow makes on demand like Pinky could at this age. Her spoken language comes out in other ways and actual words are fewer. For example yesterday she passed wind, guffed, trumped, farted, botty popped, whatever you call it, she looked at me, pointed at her bum and very clearly said ‘pardon me.’ As clear as this was she still can’t tell me consistently what noise a dog makes no matter how much we practice and some days ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’ are words that leave a lot to be desired. However because Perky has a three year old sister there is constant talking in our house, from the moment we get up until the moment we go to bed and because of this her understanding of language is unbelievable. Perkys’ non verbal communication is also very good. With Pinky I had the time to decipher her moans, groans and grunts. If she pointed in a vague direction I could work out what she wanted after some trail and error. I do not have all this spare time to decipher these things anymore as I also have a three year old that has needs that require meeting, usually at the same effing time as her sisters. This has meant that Perky very quickly learnt an effective method to grunt and point which communicated her need to me the first time of asking. Her nodding and shaking of her head is always accurate and reliable and her finger point would hit the bullseye on a target every time.
Hubby passed comment the other day about how loud Perky is in comparison to her sister. This is a true comment, she is louder than Pinky has ever been, even now she is older. I firmly believe this is due to her ‘Second Child Syndrome’. If she wants to be heard over her sister who can talk and convey her requests then she needs to shout louder!
It may not be diagnosable but Second Child Syndrome is a real thing. Mostly I think it’s a good thing. It’s a sign that as a parent you are learning from previous experience and possible mistakes, it’s a sign you are evolving and adapting. If along the way you can also learn to cut yourself some slack and lose a little of the ‘Mummy Guilt’ then you really are winning.
I’m still working on that last bit…..