Monty turns five in a month or two so I thought it worthwhile to reflect on the rampant inequality with which a second child is treated; in terms of parental care, interest and general nurturing. I think those of us who have or know a second child will agree this neglect generally yields good results. The relative disregard with which they are treated generally reduces neediness, increases independence and heightens resilience.
Firstly, I am writing about Monty on a blog entitled ‘The adventures of Milo and Jupiter’. This will surely be one of the many aspects of this blog that will cause angst between me and my teenage boys many years from now. Although Monty is a second child, so he probably won’t care. I will explain to him that the popularity of the blog depends on brand recognition, and that our 17 loyal followers would be horribly confused if we tried to alter the website or title in any way.
The diminished attention and care begins almost immediately. With Milo we paid a ‘car seat expert’ $250 to install his capsule, to ensure we had cut zero corners on his safety. That’s genuinely hilarious. With Monty I bunged in the capsule while Kuepps was inside with the bags and the 2nd born as we were being checked out of the hospital.
For their first child parents can reel off all the stats – like a basketball card collector in the late 80s – Milo was 3.6kg and 50cm long at birth. If anybody asks us how big Monty was we say “Big. Real big”. And over time this gets worse; second children do not live in absolute terms, only relative. Monty slept through earlier than Milo, Monty crawled and walked later than Milo etc etc. Goodness knows in specific terms when any of these milestones occurred.
And it continues:
When we bathed Milo in a baby bath we used one of those floating thermometers to ensure a satisfactory temperature. For Monty this technology was replaced with an elbow.
Milo got soothing rainforest music at night. For Monty we generally turned the drier on, but not always.
For Monty’s first Christmas he wore a suit which says “Milo’s first Christmas”.
Milo got a Women’s Weekly swimming pool cake for his first birthday – I went to three supermarkets to find blue jelly – for Monty we had bought a pile of brownies, and in fact his party was cancelled due to inclemency.
We sought to nurture Milo’s hand/ eye coordination, environmental awareness and ‘sense of self’ by taking him to Gymbaroo and Jitterbugs (baby gymnastics). Monty got a tennis ball, previously owned by Milo.
By the time Monty came around we had disposed of the ikea change table and instead removed the soft insert and whacked it on top of a low wardrobe; to save space.
Monty’s first bike (also known as Milo’s first bike) is right now sitting in our front carport, rusting.
And we genuinely have no idea how or when Monty was toilet trained. The trappings of training were all around our home; potties, toilet seat inserts, cute little urinals suction-capped to the wall with turbines to encourage good aim. We presume Monty just started using these things because all of a sudden his nappies were always dry. He never received any stickers for producing a pebble; no kinder surprises, no books, nothing. And then one evening before bed he pointed out his nappy had been dry overnight 7 days in a row and maybe he could wear jammies. We obliged and kaboom – toilet trained.
Recently Monty discovered the green hard-back edition of The Adventures of Milo and Jupiter which I printed out after my first time off with him (another classic first born gesture). “Daddy, where is the book of our adventures together?” He asked. Hmmm… I thought I had a decade or so before having to deal with this issue. No matter, let’s deal with it now.
I am now off work for an as yet non-determined timeframe with Monty. I will seek to invigorate the blog somewhat in order to produce enough material for a second hard-back edition to secure a prosperous future relationship with my second-born. Milo hasn’t bothered to read his yet, even though he has the capability. If and when he does he may be alarmed by some of the careless or callous parenting documented therein. We probably have another 6-12 months with Monty before he can read my version of his childhood. Hopefully COVID home schooling will return and buy us a little more time.
Who is this child?