I never thought of getting married and having children, but here I am, ending up with them and revolving my life (well, most of it) around them. I’ve got a couple of kids who are 4 years apart and the quite significant age difference doesn’t seem to stop the siblings bickering (I cross my fingers that the bickering never ever evolves into rivalry). They say that if the first child is a girl, she will tend to be more considerate toward her younger sibling.
FALSE. IT’S ONLY A MYTH.
My eldest is as fierce as her brother in defending her rights, her toys, her book, etc. etc. She was much more thoughtful when her brother was a little baby. But as he turned 2 and his mischievous acts started to surge, my daughter decided that the time to play nice was over.
Living with the two of them has its ups and downs. Here are some particular changes I’ve noticed over the course of four years.
- My bedroom is not my bedroom because they say it isn’t.
How many bedrooms do we have in our home? Three, one master bedroom and two others for children. We even provide a bunk bed in the boy’s room and a single bed with its own trundle bed in the girl’s room, to accommodate them sleeping in the same room for the first few years after my son was born (the children bedrooms also serve as a guestroom, which we lack of). We thought by providing two beds in each bedroom, the kids will take turn to sleep in one of the two bedrooms and the bedrooms will be used quite fairly.
For the past one year they’ve been huddling in my bedroom just because the bed is the largest in the house. So, almost every night the kids will be tucked in my bed until they fall into a deep sleep around 11 PM. Then my husband will move them to one of the two children bedrooms, but by 4 AM they will come back to my room; my daughter after she goes to the toilet, which is right next to my bedroom, and my son looking for his mommy to comfort him. So before the dawn breaks, my poor husband has to move to the kids’ bedroom because the poor super king size bed just cannot handle two adults and two very active young kids. For the sake of everybody, my dear man decides to sleep by himself and let the kids sleep in the master bedroom, leaving me with neck pain almost every morning. The bed has become their own battle field, people. I wake up about 3 to 4 times every night trying to shift my son from kicking his sister on her face, or shift my daughter who places her leg on her brother’s stomach. No wonder I always get sleepy around 8 or 9 AM; a good night sleep is such a luxury for me these days.
- Toys and books are literally everywhere in the house.
Haven’t we assigned a credenza with four large drawers for their toys? Yes, we have. Not only that, we’ve also added a big black box from IKEA hidden under our 140-centimeter long sofa for big-sized toys like the golf sticks and fire engines, and two containers for LEGO alone in the eldest’s bedroom. Where do we assign the playroom? In our home library, inside the hole under the table placed on the tatami (so the messiness of the whole situation isn’t that obvious to the people coming to our house). However, the playroom more often shifts to the living room, to the TV room, to the kitchen, to the indoor garden, to the main bathroom, and recently to the master bedroom. Like this morning I woke up with a giant LEGO block on my back, a story book on my feet, and a son who was practically wailing because he couldn’t find the new police car he brought to sleep last night. As I tidied up my room I discovered almost a dozen of the said LEGO under the blanket, two more story books on the floor, and a detergent bottle waiting to be painted by my daughter on my dressing table. That’s from last night alone. Some mornings I would find a set of Hot Wheels cars lining neatly on the foot of the bed, two Barbie’s sleeping next to my pillow, and a LEGO police car crushed under my son’s body due to his all night long twist and turn. When will this end? I predict, not sooner than four years from today. Considering my daughter’s habit to sleep with her treasured toys and stationeries (and that’s including sketch book and pencil case, not only Barbie’s and stuffed animals) until she’s 8 years old, my son will probably follow the same pattern. However, I do hope they will soon get tired of my spacious bed and move into their own respective bedrooms. I miss sleeping in the same room with my husband, ha-ha.
- One kid is getting exposed to his sibling’s extracurricular activities.
My daughter has four after school lessons occupying four of her seven days in a week. She was learning ballet for almost five years and her brother would go to her lesson every single time ever since he was born until last June (almost four years). The distance from our home to where the lesson took place and the duration of the lesson itself (only 1 hour) made it ineffective to be driving home back and forth twice a week. The ballet teacher and my eldest’s ballet classmates had grown affectionate toward my boy, especially when he’s not acting up and making so much noise while we sat on the waiting room. I remember that the first time my boy could stand on his own wobbly feet was in his sister’s ballet studio while leaning on the studio mirror. It was such a fond memory.
We do the same thing for her piano lesson which is only 30 minutes, once a week. My son will wait there with me, and the piano teacher is giving him candy treat every time he comes (Friday is the only time I allow my kids to eat Sugus, ha-ha). But what he’s most enthusiastic about is the taekwondo lesson, twice a week. He will hold on to the gate heading to the dojo, wearing his saddest face and puppy eyes, calling out for his sister, and begging the teacher to let him join the practice. He is a physical kid and physical activities excite him. My poor boy; the teacher told him that he’s too young and he had to wait another year before he could join the lesson.
I don’t have any help at home, so all the time I will take my boy when I need to drive my eldest to and pick her up from the lessons, even if it means disrupting his nap time. The good thing is, he gets exposed to other activities than school, and recently he found his thing. My boy was once nervous to get into the water, but after his sister took a swimming lesson and is now joining a club, he’s been playing by himself in the kid’s pool with his own float and flippers. He doesn’t hesitate to float or dive anymore; so that’s a great improvement.
My daughter mostly complies with Mama’s two commandments ((1) localize your play area and (2) tidy up your mess), but my son’s obedience is still a work in progress. The days when the house is clean and tidy will come, but not today or anytime soon. All I know and care about right now is to savor this very moment while it lasts. I know that I’m going to miss them making a mess in our home when they’re growing out of the house and leaving me with a big, spotless space.
For friends with kids, what are the major changes in your life after the kids were born? I’d very much like to hear. 🙂