More than two years ago, with a full-sized newborn lodged in my body, we said "Col will love having a sibling. He's
so curious, so interested in things."
Yeah, like steam engines and leaky faucets, but not exactly drooling, wobble-headed hunks of flesh.
If you flipped through the encyclopedia of my life, under "mother guilt" you'd find this snapshot: Home alone with my two charges for the first time, Col pretzels into a reduced-size perch on my lap while a cross-eyed newborn flashes gang-signs in his face and screams in his ear.
One child is tidy; adding another is like trying to fit a baseball team in a Fiat, then have everyone fight over who gets to drive.
For months after Rose's birth, we were like three clumsy prom-goers trying to waltz in a broom closet while wearing oven mitts. Except one dancer kept spitting up on the corsages then falling asleep while the other was swinging upside down from the closet light bulb, knocking everyone in the head.
Two years later, we still fumble through our dance steps. Rose is slightly bored while Col practices cycling round and round the middle- school track, training wheels newly cast off. Col is tired of being shushed for exclaiming over his flying Lego cement truck while Rose takes her three-hour nap. But I can hardly imagine one kid without the other, even if that means hysteria over who gets the one green rubber band.
Lately, their worlds can meld so beautifully ("Rosie, try and pull my leg off!" "OK, Col!") that Dan and I linger at the dinner table alone, sipping
beer and carrying on an uninterrupted conversation, feeling like we must have stolen something for the privilege.
Col inspires courage in Rose, because if there's an envelope to push, he's heaving it over the edge. Rose is teaching Col that there are more than just two emotions: "good" and "not good."
Sometimes Dan and I imagine the only-children of our friends, quietly knitting while the parents hold hands on the couch.
There's also the mouth-watering ratio of two adults to one child. Perhaps having a sibling is preparation for the enormous task of learning to get along with another person, that same person who sometimes bites you and other times helps you remove the toothpaste cap so you can squirt it all over the sink.
The younger siblings will never live under the magnifying glass that followed their older compatriots like the moon on an evening walk. The second child will cram five woodchips into her cheeks while you're having some sophisticated exchange with the older child titled "why we don't cuddle dead birds." It might be hours later before you discover the mulch pile in child No. 2's mouth, but this is an improvement on the original model. That magnifying glass can burn.
On the way up to the mountains last weekend, Col was snoozing while Rose whispered to me and Dan:
"Col is my dude."
Yes, darling, even when he hoards the only green rubber band.
Rachel Turiel hears third
children are easy as mashed potatoes. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.