The consensus on the first point is almost always that girls are easier to raise in the early years. They learn to talk earlier, walk earlier, they listen better and potty train sooner. Baby boys are typically a little developmentally behind their female counterparts in these areas, and instead prefer to climb everything, destroy or make a mess of whatever they can and generally make you feel you're insane when they look you in the eye yet seem to be unable to hear a word you're saying. In the pre-teen years, however, I hear this flip-flops, and mothers of little girls begin think their darlings are possessed by hormonal demons, whereas boys then become the much easier of the two to deal with simply because they're rational.
The second topic was more surprising to me. It seems, that regardless as to whether the second born is a girl or a boy, often that child has a mind of his or her own, and is stubborn enough to rival any mule. These socks? They can't be worn -- they have weird seams. This food? It was his favorite yesterday, but -- now its gonna make him puke. Twenty degrees outside? I. AM. NOT. WEARING. A. HAT!!!
The trick, I've found, at least with my second son, is to make him think that something is his idea. But if something is his idea? WATCH OUT. You very likely will never be able to convince him of anything else.
Add to it Will's, um, bravery, and you've got a kid that regularly makes me pray. Hard.
Case in point -- this past New Year's Eve we went sledding during the day with some friends. For the first time, Will jumped on his sled, alone, not waiting for anyone to give him a push or to ride down with him. Just like the older kids, once he was at the bottom, he simply picked up his sled and trudged back up the hill.
I thought, this is awesome! I could sled, too (its like swinging on a swing -- you're never too old for sledding!) and merely had to count heads every once in awhile.
About 20 minutes in and I saw Will, at the bottom of the hill, not watching where he was walking, get nailed by another kid on a sled.
I mean like -- feet up over his head, land on his face type of hit.
I jumped on my sled and flew down, thanking the teenage girl who stopped to make sure he was OK. There were lots of tears, but no real wound, so I held his hand and walked him up the hill for a little break.
Now, I'm totally a "get back on the horse" kinda person. I held him on my lap for awhile, drying his tears, making him laugh by telling him he was crying baby ice cubes. ("Do you hear that Will? PLINK! PLINK! PLINK!")
But then I said, "Baby, I know you don't want to give up! You should try sledding some more. Now you know you have to look where you're going when you walk up the hill, right? You have to be able to get out of the way if someone's coming toward you on a sled!" and we all cajoled him and made him feel better and decided we'd all go down the hill at the same time as an act of solidarity.
That very next ride down...
The five of us, each on our own sled...
We counted to three and down we went. I remember passing Will at one point toward the bottom of the hill. For some reason he came to a stop sooner than the rest of us, and seconds later I had to slow myself down so as not to plow into Nick. I had Nick laughing because I came r i g h t up to his sled and just barely bumped him. He and I stood up and turned around.
Will was standing there, CRYING.
WITH A MOUTHFUL OF BLOOD.
OH MY GOD what the hell happened? Mere seconds had passed since I passed him on the hill.
He had a gash under his chin and he was drooling blood as he cried. I so desperately wanted to carry him up that hill but he's just too heavy. I led him to the top, then inside the building there and to the bathroom.
"Mom!" he wailed. "I'm super afraid my teeth are gonna fall out into my mouth and I'm not gonna know it and then I'm gonna SWALLOW THEM!"
I felt HORRIBLE as I sat him on the counter and cleaned up his face. He'd already been hurt and I pushed him to go down the hill another time and this time he was hurt WORSE.
I never did get a very good explanation of what happened. The first time he was hit there was a boy, about 10, who came over and apologized profusely and genuinely felt horrible that he had run him over. This time, the story didn't even make sense and I figured that it probably had happened so fast he didn't really see who hit him.
We spent about 30 minutes inside the building, by the fireplace, and I fed him chips with nacho cheese on them sort of like he was a baby bird. He couldn't bite the chips with his sore (and bloody) teeth, so I'd break off a small piece, dip it in cheese and he'd pop it in his mouth and chew with his back teeth.
After awhile the other kids came in to warm up and have a snack, and when they were done they all wanted to sled some more. I looked at Will and said, "Bud, why don't we go sit outside and watch them?" We bundled ourselves up in our winter clothes again and headed out to sit at the top of the hill.
Only Will didn't sit down.
He wandered over to where I'd stashed our sleds in a bush (so that they wouldn't slide down the hill unmanned).
"Will? Baby? What're you doing?"
No answer. He simply picked up his sled.
Thinking it was to prevent his tushy from getting cold, I said, "There you go, bud. Come sit by me on your sled."
No answer. He walked to the top of the hill.
He turned. "What? I wanna go sledding some more."
I'm sure my eyes went wide. "WHAT? No, bud, I don't think that's a good idea. I think you're all sledded out for today."
He looked up at my friend and simply said, "I wanna go down again," then hopped on his sled and took off.
I think my heart stopped beating.
After three (uneventful) trips down the hill, Momma had had enough and we all decided that sledding was over for the day.
What the heck am I gonna do when this kid is 16?
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This is what Will's teeth look like today. Notice that lovely gray color on the two. The dentist says that indicates that the nerves in those teeth have died, and because of his age (he'll be six next month) he'll be losing them soon anyway and so they leave them as-is to serve as "place holders" for the new teeth that will be growing in. We're going in next week for X-rays just to make sure there's no damage to the permanent teeth that are still below the gumline. When Will heard he was getting X-rays he cheered. "I LOVE X-RAYS!" I don't believe he's ever had one in his life.