Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What is there to say when there are no problems?

I recently read The Happiest Toddler on the Block. For much of the book, I thought, he’s not talking to us.

Eating problems – negative
Sleeping problems – negative
Health issues – none
Temper tantrums – rare, intermittent and usually last no more than 30 seconds
Lack of concentration – not an issue
Social issues – negative
Frequently hurting self – more like never hurts self
Doesn’t listen – negative
Gets into everything – nope
Difficulty entertaining self – no
Separation issues – not at all

Then the author wrote about personality types, saying that most babies fall into easy, cautious or “spirited” (in other words, difficult). There were a list of indicators all of which I could easily check off “easy” for River. He is cautious physically. But that just ends up being easy for us, because he doesn’t take risks in which he can hurt himself.

So what happens when I get together with other moms? They talk about the challenges they are facing – problems getting their kids to eat, to sleep, having to entertain them constantly, dealing with tempers. I really can’t relate.

We’ve suspected for a while that we had an easy baby. According to the Happiest Baby on the Block, 40% of babies fall into this category. But I’m now quite sure we do. And that not only is he easy, he is super easy. And we are super lucky.

I think this probably makes other parents wish a number two from hell upon us just so we can see what it’s like.

“River is definitely unique,” one friend said. “It’s probably tempting to think that it came from how you raised him.”

Sure, it can be tempting. But I know the majority of it is genetic. And he has demonstrated the same personality, focused on food and observation, from birth. Not much has changed. He probably would have turned out exactly the same at this point if I’d left him as an infant with the wonderful family we stayed with in Panama.

So what can I talk about when I get together with other moms? Today, I told the mom about the book we’d just finished reading, which was sitting on our coffee table.

I told her how funny this one was, how the voices were so well portrayed, and how creative it was. I told her how much I’m enjoying the reading time now that we are getting to really entertaining stories. This book is aimed for the 4-8 range, which is what we’ve been reading quite a bit of lately. This one was a bit longer and denser in text than others, so it took us two days to get through the story, but we read the whole thing and today River asked for a repeat.

My friend said her child would never sit through a story like that, that she’ll barely sit through a book at all, but instead brings a book over, looks at the cover, then grabs another.

I know there is nothing wrong with her kid being more interested in running around than reading books. I know it’s normal for this age. But I end up feeling like I’m bragging. It’s certainly easier to read long and funny stories than to chase a toddler getting in to everything.

When we’re hanging out with Samuel, River’s little genius of a friend, it’s easier. While he does have eating, sleep and health issues, the boys have a lot in common in terms of their intellectual curiosity. I don’t have to worry about Samuel’s mom being upset because the fact is that her child is so clearly amazing and more advanced than River in many ways. We talk about what we read and they always have amazing suggestions. Last time we visited, Samuel was in love with a book called Cowboy and Octopus (also in the 4-8 range). Who would have thought of that combination?

With other parents, I’m probably going to have to learn to shut up. To listen to the problems they are having, and not mention that we’re not experiencing them. That’s a hard thing to do though, especially since I think moms are pre-programmed to talk about their kids. All the more reason for me to spend more time on professional matters, where these topics don’t come up, and less time in mom’s groups.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we got hit with a whammy with number two. I suppose we deserve it. But I would be so happy if I could put in an order and request another just like River.

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