A few weeks ago I was sitting with my youngest Ryan (2) watching my middle child Jamie (4) at gymnastics. As usual Ryan was dressed as a pirate and instead of playing on the floor with toys he wanted to sit on my knee and see his big brother. There was a book on the counter so I decided to pass the time and take a look at the book with him. Within a few short minutes I realized I had failed my youngest. I pointed at animals and he hadn’t a clue. I asked him what sounds they made and he looked at me as if I was from another planet. I inhaled deeply and realized I don't do as much with poor Ryan as I had done with his siblings.
My two older kids were able to recite the alphabet, count at least to ten and knew every nursery rhyme by heart at his age. Ryan couldn’t tell a cow from a horse. I often ask him “What is your name?” and he promptly tells me “Ryan”, when I asked him "How old are you?" up until recently he would always say “I dunno” no matter how many times I told him "two". He is a joker, I know he knows his age but he loves the expression “I dunno”. He has on occasion counted to ten but he does it when he thinks no-one is listening.
After this fateful day in September “Operation Education” kicked off. I am ensuring we have more one on one time and in a few short weeks, he just loves his books and he know a vast amount of animals. Phew, turns out he is a fast learner. When I discovered that Ryan didn’t really know what I thought he should know, I spoke to one of my good friends whose three kids are the same ages as mine. She too has encountered the third child dilemma. I am not alone. She told me that one day her youngest looked up at the sky and said “Train” as clear as day as a plane flew through the sky. As you multiply it is harder and harder to spread yourself. When Ryan joined us Laura-Leigh (6) was 3 years and 4 months old and Jamie was 21 months old. It was a very busy time in our household and I felt there wasn’t enough of me to go around. I remember the boys napping at the same time and then waking at the same time, both wanting me, you guessed it at the same time! Both wailing and I wanted to wail with them.
The Effects of Birth position
When Laura-Leigh was born our world changed forever. She was our first child and first grandchild on my husband’s side. She was adored by all and our family turned into the paparazzi. She had my individual attention, no disruptions, no distractions, she had 100% of me. I was consumed by her and I told my mother when Laura-Leigh was ten days old, I couldn’t wait to make her a sister or brother. She hates and I mean hates being in trouble; she can't stand it. She wants to be good. She is very much about right and wrong, the pleaser and protector of all.
Jamie is the middle child and a boy - that is some combination; sends me into a tail spin at times. He loves and I mean loves being in trouble, he's addicted. He must love hearing me calling his name, I do it A LOT. I said to a friend recently that the staff at Laura-Leigh’s Elementary school are all familiar with Jamie’s name and he doesn’t start there until September. I am the Megaphone Mom and it’s always Jamie I am saying. I saw a kid wearing a T-shirt the caption of which was “trouble finds me”. Oh my God, that was made for Jamie. He walked early. He talked early. He strung sentences together which were mind blowing for his age, he spelt his own name at two. He would sit and do puzzles over and over again. He is the trouble maker but he is a great kid, he just can’t help it.
Ryan just loves to play. He has a fabulous imagination. The other two never sat and really played. Ryan didn’t walk until he was nearly 18 months old, the reason was pure laziness. He was like a lump of lard, a dead weight. He just sat and everything came to him via Laura-Leigh and Jamie. I am sure he thought to himself this is great, I sit here and they bring me everything and them Mommy lifts me to the table where I can gorge. He was a year old before he even attempted to crawl and he was so I am not doing this after his first attempt, so he did the bum shuffle instead. God I love that move. Let’s use my backside padding to my advantage. He is Jamie's shadow and has a passion for traditional Irish music like his brother.
What's your name again?
Three kids later and I have morphed into my mother and I can’t seem to identify my own children. Yes I know what they look like but getting their names right especially the boys is a nightmare. I think Jamie just naturally falls from my lips as I am ALWAYS calling his name as he is the middle child and he suffers from that particular syndrome. I was talking to my friend about this name phenomenon recently and I said to her that once I don’t call them a name from outside our household I think I am doing ok. The boys look very alike. One day a few months back a neighbor turned to Ryan and said “Hello James”, firstly Jamie is actually Jamie and Ryan is not Jamie so Ryan scrunches up his face and I know he is thinking “God not even the outside people can get our names right”, so he pipes up “I not Jamie, I RYAN”. It’s not only me
Ryan is sleep deprived
I am lucky, my kids are not early risers. Laura-Leigh awakes at about 7am and that is A OK with me. The boys, in particular Ryan, are like teenagers. This is a problem in that getting my kids out the door by 8:15 is challenging, very challenging. It is like a military operation. I remove my sleeping boys from their beds (or our bed) and lay their still sleeping bodies on the couch. I have to coax them to the land of alertness. It is very tough. Then I have the morning battle with Jamie, who won’t tell me what he wants for breakfast and then when he has divulged that secret information, he then looks at his breakfast for 20 minutes, 20 minutes I just don’t have. Ryan is still panned out and Laura-Leigh is shaking her bootie (I have a feeling she is going to be an exotic dancer!). It started me thinking about Ryan and sleep. If Ryan was first in in line to the throne, he would sleep until at least 9am EVERY DAY. He is being deprived of much needed sleep due to his siblings.
The Carrying Phenomenon
Ryan’s legs work perfectly fine (once he decided to get up and walk). Always rushing around I am guilty of carrying him on my hip, front and back. I now get back and hip pain. If I didn’t we would never get anywhere on time as he is a Sunday driver. I am a small framed person and Ryan is built like a tank, the child is heavy, but he loves being held by me. On the occasions when I have time, I will pop him on the ground to walk and he is dumbfounded that I would expect him to perform such a function. It has been my own doing but you gotta do what you gotta do when you are a Mom. When you are trying to get his older siblings to Elementary and preschool, carrying the toddler just works better.
Hand me downs
Ryan does get new clothes from our families for his birthday and Christmas but almost everything else is Jamie’s or from family friends. Nothing wrong with that as they grow out of them so fast. He does get his own toys but the vast majority are his siblings toys. Sometimes I feel bad for him and a few weeks ago I took him to a sports Store as he is Oilers mad. I was going to get him a jersey and then I was mean as I thought they were overpriced (sorry Ryan) but I got him a baseball cap and he looks edible in it. He then seen hockey sticks and was hollering at the top of his voice “I want hockey stick”, he has a padded one at home so I quickly paid and vacated the premises before he pulled something down on himself.
Each term we choose two activities for Laura-Leigh and Jamie. Ryan gets one. Poor guy, I need to change this. He is getting such a different experience to his older siblings. Although I did bring him to the library with Jamie recently for story-time but I had to leave early as he turned into a hooligan.
In conclusion, parenting is tricky. You have to try and spread yourself like butter. I remember crying when Ryan was a tiny baby as I felt like I was underwater and I just couldn’t do it all. I was outnumbered, I didn’t have enough eyes or hands or knees. I felt like a park bench. They all wanted to sit on my knee at the exact same time. I’ve learnt that I haven’t failed Ryan. He has just got a different part of me. It is every bit as good as what Laura-Leigh and Jamie got, just different. Operation education will continue and he will thrive, he is thriving. Each child is unique and that comes from within and from the experiences we provide as parents. I know that Ryan will be surrounded by friends and loved dearly as he is such a happy go lucky little guy. Third in line is just third in line.
Remember never a dull moment in this house and keep sane.