Thursday, December 15, 2011

The baby of the family - already!

Emily is now a toddler. When did this happen? It seems to have sneaked up on us. Part of it is that she's not quite walking yet (she could be if she wanted to, but she's a bit of a chicken). But she is talking. She has a real knack for sounds and can mimic almost any vowel, if now always the consonants. We know what she's saying, even if no one else does.

We've had a tendency to project age and maturity onto Chloe as she's grown. She's so smart, so mature, so responsible (a little she-devil too, but we make allowances). Look at what she's accomplished now. We've been putting a whole load of expectations on her shoulders without even realizing it. Our enthusiasm gets the best of us. But it's hard to help. She's the first child. Onto Emily we project youth, cuteness, sweetness. We've made her the baby. It's her role, her position. How unfair for both children.

As Philip Larkin wrote, "They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do."

Tonight, I had to rock Emily to sleep. She was having trouble settling. And though she'd just been cruising around the house, laughing, playing, and throwing many tyrannical tantrums (a habit of hers lately), to me she was a beautiful little baby all over again in my arms, cuddling in, looking up at me, and drifting off to sleep. We have to recognize Emily's development, nurture her independence, encourage her desire to explore. But we all need to be held sometimes too. We just need to be able to recognize when we're comforting our children and when we're indulging ourselves.   For fun, I'm including all of Larkin's poem below. But please don't take it as gospel. Enjoy!

Philip Larkin - This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
  They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
  And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
  By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
  And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
  It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
  And don't have any kids yourself.

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