I’m concerned about the babies in the strollers. In all likelihood, these youngsters happen to be the second born, and I’m not sure how they’re surviving.
My wife and I have a 3-year-old monster named Hank. And Hank now has a 5-month-old science project named Cal, who happens to be our second son. Meghan and I love these boys equally, you just wouldn’t know if you placed a hidden camera in our home.
Let’s take nutrition for example.
When Hank came home from the hospital, we installed one of those silver, sterile hospital shelves to store his bottles. OK, not really, but we did have this green, plastic, grass-looking object that took up half a kitchen counter in order to properly drain the bottles that had been washed – by hand – with organic dish soap that cost $14.99 an ounce.
Bottle-washing fell under my watch, and there wasn’t an organism that could survive the amount of scrubbing I’d unleash on Hank’s bottles. We’d crank the water-heater up to 160 and I’d walk away with first-degree burns to make sure those plastic containers looked like Waterford crystals.
I’m not sure what kind of bacteria Cal is drinking, but I know the effort put forth on his bottles has been drastically curtailed. In fact, I have altered the routine by filling the right half of the sink with warm water, dousing some Palmolive (full of dyes, fragrances and fake bubble makers) in the water, and piling all the bottles in at once and letting them soak for 20 minutes. I’ll often use my fingers to scrub the plastic nipples and when that work is done, the bottles get placed on a hand towel that may or may not have food particles from last night’s supper on them.
And that’s when the next noticeable difference in raising a second child becomes apparent.
When we delicately prepared Hank’s bottles of formula, we bought gallons of water from one of those BabiesRBillions stores. No kidding, we bought water specially designed for babies, which might possibly be the greatest hoax Dr. Seuss ever played on us.
Once the powdered gold formula was measured and mixed, we’d gently place the bottle in a steamer designed to slowly and meticulously warm Baby Hank’s water to the perfect sipping temperature.
Guess what Cal gets? That’s right: Warm tap water. And from everything I can tell, he likes it just fine, not to mention he may have the whitest teeth in America considering all the fluoride he’s consumed in the past five months, assuming his teeth can grow through the bacteria.
Speaking of teeth, I also recall the precision with which we prepared Hank’s first rounds of solid food, if pureed carrots can ever be defined as solid.
You ever heard of a Baby Brezza? That’s short for “It takes forever to make real food.” And yes, we had one for Hank. Meghan would come home from a hard day’s work and start chopping sweet potatoes into small squares in order to make a week’s worth of organic food when our first son began eating.
You know what Cal gets, right? A plastic container of processed bananas that may get served out of a bowl and may just be spoon-shoved into his mouth straight out of the container.
Doesn’t seem to matter; Cal eats much better than Hank ever did.
There are so many things that have changed with baby No. 2. During the first year of Hank’s life, I’m pretty sure my wife and I walked around the house in slippers, we talked like golf announcers and we kept the lights at funeral parlor levels.
Maybe it’s because we have a Tasmanian 3-year-old, but any thought of keeping our home nice and calm for the second child would only be possible if we asked Hank to move into the garage, permanently.
We may still do that before it’s over, but for now, we’ve bought Cal sunglasses and some earplugs and told him to deal with it.
Our reading habits have changed, too. With Hank, my wife bought a book on getting children to sleep through the night and she read it at a stoplight on the way home. In fact, we are still reading books on how to handle rowdy 3-year-olds, yet we haven’t revisited a single book on taking care of an infant.
Here’s another funny: My wife and I are lucky to have a wonderful nanny, Rachel, who took care of Hank for the first 18 months of his life and will (hopefully) do the same for Cal.
When Meghan went back to work after Baby No. 1, she created a sheet that Rachel filled out every day, asking how many times sweet little Hank used the bathroom (both kinds), how many times he ate, when he took his medicine and what kind of activities he did that day. Yes, we wanted updates on Tummy Time.
Rachel now takes care of Cal every day and you know how many sheets she has filled out? About the only thing we ask Rachel now is if Cal ate any processed bananas and we call it good.
I’m sure some gentle soul will write and tell me what a disservice we’re doing our second son. Oh whatever. I’m a second child, I’m pretty sure I got the same treatment, and if I had to do it all over, I’d probably fix Hank’s bottles with tap water, serve him Gerber Sugar Dishes and keep the lights on bright.
That’s the only reason I can figure Cal is the most laid-back, healthy and happy child I’ve ever seen.
If you’re a new parent, take it from me: Use Palmolive and quit burning your hands.