Thus far in my short blogging career, the vast majority of my time has been spent talking about my older son, Emmett. The reason has nothing to do with me liking Emmett better than my baby (I don’t!). The primary reason is that Emmett is at an age where he is doing some really quirky, totally hysterical, sometimes confusing, and borderline maniacal things. And everything with my preschooler is new for me. First smiles, first crawls, first steps are exciting and delightful, but we’ve done them before. And well, my sweet baby Patrick is… well, he’s just so sweet!
Patrick cuddles me and naps on me. He immediately crawls into my lap if I sit on the floor. He laughs at all of my silly faces, and he gives me kisses when I ask for them. He lights up when I walk into a room. And he only cries when he’s hungry, tired, or in the throes of some particularly painful teething episode.
So imagine my surprise the other day when Emmett and Patrick were dutifully playing on our living room floor, various toys strewn all over the place, and I heard a loud scream and what sounded like a chiding of the baby variety. I found Emmett and Patrick having a serious tussle over a toy that Patrick had been playing with (or chewing on). And Patrick was not taking any crap from Emmett.
Most of the time when the boys are playing, Patrick follows Emmett around and swipes up his leftover and forgotten toys and puts them in his mouth. When Emmett takes toys from Patrick, Patrick generally moves on to the next object without complaint. But this time was different – this time Patrick asserted himself. And like he did after he started crawling and standing up, as soon as he figured out this new trick, he has been doing it nonstop since.
I thought I would have a bit more of a grace period before my children started fighting! But it also got me thinking.
The first time around, I was so anxious to watch Emmett hit all his milestones, that it was only in retrospect that I realized how fast the baby period flew. You’re in a haze of infancy and new motherhood, followed by a quick succession of major milestones, and bam, you have a child off to preschool (my parents tell me it feels that way when you’re dropping your kids off at college!). With Patrick, I wasn’t anxious about milestones – I knew from experience he’d hit them. And by not focusing on them, I find that I have blinked and he’s on the verge of becoming a toddler.
So my sweet little baby is becoming bossy, assertive, and more independent each day. He’s insistent about playing on stairs, goes straight for the most dangerous object in any room, and is as chatty and loud as his big brother. And he’s standing up to his brother now, which I have to say as a younger sibling myself, makes me proud!
The time our children spend as babies is so short-lived, and like so many things in life, you only seem to notice it after. And I’ve done it before! So my only advice to parents with new babies is to cherish those cuddles and hazy days. Though I know that this is a lot easier said than done when you are sleep deprived, unshowered, and have been vomited on twice before it’s even noon.
When did you first notice your sweet baby starting to assert herself? What do you find to be the biggest differences between parenting a baby and a toddler?