A little over a week ago I got a text message which included a picture of our beloved Kindle Fire. Actually it would be more accurate to describe the device as Nathan’s beloved Kindle Fire because pretty much commandeered it for himself but I digress. That picture showed the tablet with spidery cracks through the glass clearly emanating from one corner.
I knew as soon as I saw the image what happened. Nathan left the Kindle on the couch and went off to do something else. That’s when Miss Destructo, aka She Hulk, aka Kaitlyn arrived on the scene. She pitched that thing off the couch and onto the floor, shattering the screen and rendering it useless. The weird thing about this is Nathan never really had a destructive toddler stage. He was always sensitive and fairly gentle with toys and things. He hit all the other terrible stages like biting, hitting, hurtling himself off objects in dangerous ways, but never the “destroy all the things” stage.
The point is I never think to put the expensive devices out of reach because Nathan never broke them. Moments like this are what can be incredibly humbling as a parent. This is a small example but it serves the overall point nicely. No matter if it’s your first kid or your fifth there will always be things that surprise you. I will spend weeks thinking I have this parenting thing on lock down only to have one or both of my children throw a monkey wrench all up in my business. It is simultaneously the most frustrating thing about being a parent and the most fun. Watching two kids who came from the same parents and live in the same circumstances evolve in completely different ways is fascinating. They seem different at almost every turn down to small things like object destruction potential.
This is not to say that you are completely in the dark all over again with second (or third, or fourth, etc) children. I have benefit now of being able to identify what things actually matter and what things I am manufacturing into a big deal but they really aren’t. Kaitlyn is definitely different from Nathan in almost every way but I am also more equipped to roll with the punches. Being able to handle her monkey wrenches without actively losing my shit is a nice benefit of this second child business.
I also have less free time available for shit losing. Between having a full time job, running a website/podcast, parenting, and trying to spend some semblance of time with my husband pretty much all of my free time is accounted for. I don’t have hours to hem and haw about what the perfect sippy cup is for my kids or the ramifications of allowing my kid to eat Peanut Butter and Jelly for dinner. I don’t have time to get washed up in guilt over my choice to work. I barely have time to get to the gym and take showers.
I’m glad Kaitlyn is different from Nathan. I’m glad she foils my best plans and keeps me on my toes. The combination of the two of my children has made a better parent. I’m more capable, calmer, and more reasonable and that is beyond important when you live a life with two tiny, sometimes destructive, dictators all up in your grill. Now if I could just get the cat to fall in line I would feel like a parenting rock star. Unfortunately she has other plans so if you’ll excuse me I have to go clean cat pee off the rug again.
(For those of you who are on pins and needles about the Kindle Fire I replaced it with a refurb second generation model. Nathan really digs using Kindle Free Time to check out different apps and books. Bonus that it allows me to lock him out of the rest of the Kindle content so he can’t see some of the books I’ve bought.)