When a child is first born into a family everything changes. A couple becomes parents; their parents become grandparents. Everyone’s cameras come out to capture every smile, every move, every nuance in expression that the infant makes.
We are fascinated by the miracle of life. The ten perfect fingers and toes; the eyes, ears, mouth that work as they should. The incredible softness of the skin. The fragility of the bones and weak little neck.
The parents make sure all the shots are up-to-date and the medical appointments measuring percentiles for everything?height, weight, head circumference, and more?are kept. Vitamins, supplements, and the purest, most healthy diet are what this new life needs to thrive.
We all become aware of potential hazards and threats to the wellbeing of this helpless being. Is someone smoking within a mile of this precious child? Is this the right car seat, stroller, soother, approved toy for baby? Are little Johnny and Julie wearing bike helmets and protective gear for every sport?
Our fascination with this young life grows as they do. First words, walking, learning to read, making a slap shot, building something with Lego are all big deals. We’re amazed and proud of every milestone.
Then somewhere along the way a sibling is born. Again the family dynamic changes, as everything shifts. The second and subsequent kids are lucky if anyone bothers to pull out a camera. They live with hand-me-downs and forever share the spotlight with others. Comparisons are made, if not audibly then certainly silently. Didn’t baby one crawl sooner, speak clearer, smile more? In our own family, we have proof positive that a second baby can grow up just fine even if you have used equipment. You learn with the first baby which stuff is useless (but expensive) non-essential crap.
Of course, none of this is fair or right. But neither is it malicious. It just is. Families get busier and have more responsibilities; they’re juggling more balls. The new additions are loved. They will grow into their own unique little selves.
For all these reasons we love when Carrie texts us a picture of Kade. The latest was a photo of this nearly four month old propped up in the corner of the sofa just chilling. He’s smiling and clutching a toy. He’s now more able to control his hands and tries to position his pacifier in the right orifice.
And while the comparisons to big brother Grady are inevitable we are enjoying this little boy for who he is. We can’t wait to see how he grows and thrives and who he becomes. We’re proud of how Grady loves and protects this little guy and wonder when the first brotherly fight will happen.
Maybe the best we can do is single out these second and subsequent children for special outings and one on one time. Documenting it with a photo wouldn’t hurt either, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites..