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Studies and mommy guilt

Submitted by on Sunday, 1 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published June 27, 2007, thehive.modbee.com

This just in from HealthDay:

“First-born children possess IQs that are 2.3 points higher, on average, than their younger siblings, a new study contends. This finding held true even when first-born children didn’t survive and a younger child was reared as the eldest, scuttling the idea that genetics determines the difference in IQ among siblings, according to the Norwegian researchers who authored the report, published in the June 22 issue of the journal Science .

That’s swell news. Because I’d been sitting around all day wondering what I should feel guilty about next. Lucky for me, this showed up in my inbox and I had my answer.

I knew there was a reason I’d always wanted twins. Technically, one still would have been older, but maybe that thin difference would have shaved only 1.15 points off Little Guy’s IQ.

What difference does 2.3 points make? It translates into about a 30 percent increased chance of a child getting into an Ivy League university, a U.C. Berkeley professor says.

Good thing I haven’t gotten around to setting up 529s. I don’t think Little Guy will need one for trade school.

To make it even worse for Little Guy, Big Guy is a tremendous joker, and it’s bonus points when he can confuse his brother.

“How many mommies do you see?” I’ll often ask Big Guy when he’s machine-gunning requests/orders at me.

“Two!” he’ll chirp.

And Little Guy chimes in with “Two!”

To tell the truth, Little Guy’s development always has been slower than Big Guy’s, particularly in speech and mobility.

Big Guy: walked at 10½ months, singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and reciting parts of “Good Night, Moon” by age 2.

Little Guy: walked at 13½ months and can throw in a few lyrics here and there.

I read somewhere when I was pregnant with Little Guy that mothers should accept that they’ll never have the time to spend with subsequent children that they did with the first, but that it doesn’t matter, because the younger ones will pick up things from the older ones.

And Little Guy has done some of that. He already realizes that he can get out of his big boy bed and play instead of going to sleep. Big Guy was almost 2½ before it occurred to him to pull that one.

Still, I wish at times that they could be switched before birth, that each could have, if only for a day, what the other had.

I wish I’d had time to dance with Little Guy. From early on, Big Guy and I whirled around the living room, mainly because it was the only way to quieten colic. It quickly became our favorite pastime – he’d get excited at the opening notes of Garth Brooks’ “Baton Rouge.”

I long for the leisurely evenings on the living room floor with Big Guy, just him and me and a stack of puzzles or blocks. I never get to do that now that there’s twice the laundry, lunches and clutter to deal with.

On the other hand, I wish Big Guy had never had to cry, “Mommy, you please put That Baby down!” and weep heart-broken tears because he had to share me.

I’d love for him to never have the urge to constantly check out what brother has for differences and signs that Mommy loves the other one more.

My rational side knows that none of this matters much, that every kid develops differently, that it’s just another study and, even if it were “take it to the bank” irrefutable evidence, IQ is not necessarily an indicator of success or happiness.

But no one’s ever said parenting is always rational. There’s always going to be a new study or recommendation to fret over.For example, on the same page there’s a link to this article from Reuters“Children whose mothers get enough omega-3 fatty acid during pregnancy may have sharper problem-solving skills in infancy.”

I don’t mean to scoff, but, really, what problems do babies have to solve?

“Hmm … I’m getting hungry here, and no one’s noticing. I wonder if it will help if I scream?”

Problem solved.

Copyright 2007 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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