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9to5to9: What a boy wants is to cry

Submitted by on Friday, 10 October 2008 No Comment

A friend called it in the summer. Soon, he said, Little Guy would start crying to get his way.

His prediction was based on anecdotal evidence gathered from two youngest-sibling ex-spouses. There is some birth-order research to back that up, though most describes the youngest as charming and helpless. Maybe the helpless part is where the weeping comes in.

Nah, not going to happen, I assured him. Little Guy is the most chilled kid on the planet. Slept through his circumcision even.

Yet, there Little Guy stood on the stoop this evening, home an hour early because he didn’t want to go to Big Guy’s soccer practice. His eyes were cast up, his chin drooping. He took three steps inside and threw himself on the carpet. “I’m hungry! Want dinner!”

And, as he usually does, he said it not in an angry way, but with the hopeless forlorn of one whose mother starves him. It went on for about 15 minutes.

Would someone pass the ketchup? The crow I’m about to eat is kind of dry.

I thought I could avoid all that birth-order stuff. My youngest wouldn’t be a whiny, manipulative twerp like my brother was. I would not fall victim to baby worship!

Ba ha ha ha ha, laugh the Motherhood Muses. They haven’t seen me step this deep in a pile in a long time.

I swear I could tell differences in these two from the start. Big Guy wanted to stay up all night and play soccer even back then, but Little Guy was so still he’d scare me.

But what else did I do along the way to influence this?

Yes, I did cuddle Baby Little Guy a bit more, because I’d gotten over listening to everyone’s nonsense about just letting a wee one wail. Was I teaching him that far back to cry and I’d come running?

Big Guy, though, was colic-plagued for six weeks, so he had plenty of arm time, too. There was a difference, though. With Big Guy, I was more likely to be up dancing because the activity soothed him. He had a low boredom threshold even back then.

I’ve tried to steer as clear as I can of their petty disputes, though there have been times when I’ve had to intercede on Little Guy’s behalf because bigger Big Guy could easily thump him.

And it turns out that the size difference is what’s been bothering Little Guy. He told me tonight, ironically putting it all on his El, just like Big Guy uses Bear to work through his problems.

“Mommy, El wants to be big. He wants to go to kindergarten.”

“If he keeps getting his good food, he’ll grow.”

“But he’ll never be as big as his brother.”

“He might. You never know.” I didn’t bother to tell him that with a mother who’s 5-4 and a father who’s 5-6, neither brother should expect to be Yao Ming.

“No, he won’t. He’s tiny. He’ll always be tiny.”

He continued his story for a good 10 minutes, pleading that El is diligent about his homework so the teacher should let him in class. El already has a “packpack” and “lunchboch,” he said. He’s ready to go.

I knew Big Guy starting kindergarten had thrown Little Guy for a loop. Suddenly, the brother who’s always been at his side at day care was vacationing in this exotic kinderplace every morning and, no matter how hard he tried, Little Guy couldn’t convince the big people that he should be allowed to go, too.

I’d probably cry, too, if I had all that weighing me down.

So yes, like a classic youngest sibling, Little Guy can bat eyes with the best of them. And he’s not above moaning “I can’t do it” when he doesn’t feel like doing it. Some of it is strictly gratuitous.

But it turns out there also was something else bumping around in his brain and bothering him. I’m happy est El and I got to have a nice chat about it.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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