It's no secret, we've been having a bit of a rough patch around here. One of the hardest parts has been that up until now, Kevin and I have always parented together, meaning we eat as a family, play as a family, go to bed as a family, and basically do everything together.
My friend Debbie, who is a more experienced parent, has always maintained that this was insane. "Two kids will change all that,"she said. And of course she's right. There is just no way for two adults and two babies to do everything together and anyone get anything done. So since Archer was born, Kevin and I have been trying the divide-and-conquer approach: one parent plus one kid going in opposite directions in order to accomplish twice as much. And it works ... up to a point.
We do get a lot more done. The problem is that for practical reasons Kevin always takes Colin and I always take Archer, and so our children have developed wildly intense parental preferences. I suppose this isn't necessarily a problem, except that it creates hurt feelings. Not among the kids mind you. Colin is perfectly content when he can get mom and brother out of the picture and have his dad all to himself, and Archer is like, "Dad? What Dad? Where are the boobs?!" But Kevin isn't so happy that his youngest son screams like a banshee whenever he is alone with him, and this mama is tired of having her feelings trod on by a two year old who says things like, "Mama, you go back to bed, I want to play with daddy." (Do you know the number of ways a two year old has for hurting his mama's feelings? Oh, let me count the ways ...)
So recently, as part of my new Plan, I instituted "Swap Nights." The idea was that if Kevin had more time alone with Archer, Archer would be more at ease him. And if I could have some time with my eldest boy--without a baby in tow--then I wouldn't haven't be such a scold all the time and we could enjoy each other's company more. But it hasn't quite worked out that way.
A couple of weeks ago, I took Colin swimming--just the two of us--and we had a blast sliding down the slide and jumping into the pool ... until Colin decided it would be even more fun if he could take off by himself and run around the pool--the 10-foot-deep adult pool! So that evening ended in scolding and tears.
Then, the next week, I took Colin to a puppet show. One minute he's is squealing with delight, the next he is screaming, "I wanna go home!" Of course, once I take him out of the theatre he screams, "I don't wanna go home!" So which is it?! (By the way, it's not like Colin is afraid of puppets. We've been to many puppet shows as a family and he's loved them.)
Kevin's evenings with Archer didn't go any better. Apparently, five minutes after I left the house Archer burst into tears and was inconsolable until I returned two hours later, even though he was well-rested, well-fed and dry.
So what are we to do?
I suspect that Archer will simply outgrow his preferences--especially once we introduce a bottle. (I know, I know. My son is four months old and I haven't introduced the bottle yet. I am either crazy or stupid, or both.)
But what about Colin? Is this just what two year olds are like? Will he outgrow this? Or should I just grow up and stop trying to make my son like me. I guess one outta two ain't bad ...