The “Far Apart” Children
As a young girl, I remember my friends and I all wanting our future children to be close in age so that they could grow together and play together. Some wanted the boys to be older to protect the girls and some wanted the girls to be older so that they could babysit the boys. (As if boys are not capable of this task…And as if you’d ever leave a 13-year-old in charge of an 11-year-old…Hah!)
Now, as life would have it, the greatest teacher about the truths of our existence, is experience...
My first two are close together. Whether they know it or not, they are truly each other’s best friends. They keep each other constant company. My daughter, the older child, teaches the younger one to strive to keep up. And my son, the younger of the two, forces my older child to put into practise, lessons of patience and endurance. It is a thrill to watch them build on each other’s creativity when they concoct all kinds of stories, plays and dramas.
When my son was born, however, it was not as ‘easy’ as it is now that they are both walking, talking and independent. My daughter, at two years of age, was truly remarkable in her desire to help in the care for her younger sibling. But let’s face it, caring for an infant and even the most cooperative toddler is extremely time-challenging and those ‘special moments’ with the younger infant were fewer and farther between than they were when I only had one infant and no toddler distracting my focus.
With a miscarriage following our son’s birth and several years of unexplained infertility, I found myself pregnant after suffering a cold. Why it is, that a husband can still find his wife to be sexually appealing when she has a runny nose, cough and is all the while ingesting as much over-the-counter cold remedies as she can, is beyond me. However, I am convinced that the particular cold remedy I was taking has some magical ingredient in it that ended our bout of infertility… but that is another article.
And so our third child, Ben, was born into our family with siblings, six and eight years older than he. He is also the child who has more helping hands at his beck and call than any child should probably bear witness to on this planet. At 5 months of age he has no worry of any toy dropped, as someone is there to pick it up for him within 5 seconds. He gets more kisses than the other two did because there are two more sets of lips in the house. And because my daughter thinks of him as her own personal, living doll, he is almost constantly carried which is, of course, one of the things in life that babies love most. He wants for nothing that a baby wants. And now, I can witness all the joys of having a small baby in the house, yet enjoy my very own, unaccompanied, visits to the bathroom... at least for the time being.
I’ve noticed that the older children also have tolerances for the baby, that they do not afford eachother. For example, they find eachother’s spit disgusting and/or offensive. And they seldom say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to eachother without some kind of prompting from my partner, or myself.
However, Ben’s ears, according to them should only be encumbered with sweet, almost melodic tones and they never miss a ‘thank you’ for his gobby, spitty, stringy, baby-kisses. In return, my older two children are learning some wonderful care-giving recipes that they would not have without their much younger sibling.
My six-year-old son will spend half an hour making funny faces that make the baby laugh and squeal. When that same six-year-old was 6 months old, there was not an adult within 50 kilometres that would spend half an hour making faces… no matter how cute and adorable those fits of giggles were. Adults just don’t have that kind of time. And a two and a half year old is just too busy doing... well... all that self-absorbed, two-and-half-year-old-stuff, that two and a half year old is supposed to be doing.
So there are some wonderful benefits for all of our children in this scenario. And yes, the ‘close together’ children are wonderful to have…but so are the ‘far apart’ children...here in... The Gray Zone...