Second Son

“How old is he?”

The woman at the booth across from us has smooth blonde hair in a pageboy cut, a green anorak and an ambitious lipstick shade.

“He’s 19 months,” I say, rubbing a piece of food off the bow lips of my baby boy,”A year and a half.”

“There’s a big age difference between my boys too,” she says, gesturing toward Nolan,”Five years.  Big surprise for us!”

I chuckle too, and refrain from offering additional information.  My second son is spiral curls, gleeful eyes, and a Jack Nicholson grin.  He is short legs and long arms and tenacious determination wrapped up in a shockingly endearing package.  He is nothing like I expected he would be.  It’s impossible to believe that he could be anything other than what he is.

When Nolan was small, I accepted congratulations on his temperment.

“He’s such a nice boy.”

“Such a sweet disposition.”

“You are doing something very right.

“Thank you,”I’d say,” Thanks very much.  I sure hope so.

I knew Nolan’s personality was formed by a power much greater than me, and that his disposition was a combination of environmental and inherent factors.  But I also took a little secret credit: maybe Nolan’s sweetness came from empathy I demonstrated.  Perhaps our closeness and inseparability had something to do with his ability to love everyone with clear-eyed willingness.  He slept through the night because I worked hard to train him.  He ate every kind of food because I fed him spicy Indian food as a baby, Thai noodle soup as a toddler.

Uh.

No.

I had nothing to do with any of it.

Jude came out of my womb and grabbed my face, staring intently and calmly in my eyes.  There’s never been any doubt about his force of will, even as a tiny infant.  He can scream for hours, he eats only bread and specific fruit, he permits hand holding only under extreme circumstance.

He speaks his own distinctive, unintelligible language and his laughter is the most contagiously ecstatic sound I’ve ever heard. He bellows when you try to kiss him too much and he is as grumpy as an 82 year old man when he wakes up in the morning.  His temperament is completely outside my comfort zone, and I am 100% convinced he will either effectively rule the world or destroy us all.  He looks exactly like Corey, except when he runs like a shot wild rabbit, in which case he looks like his Mama.

None of us can imagine what life was like before him. None of us can imagine what our lives will be like when he actually reaches his “terrible twos.”

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He is wild. Obstinate and tenacious and focused and hilarious and I think back to the days when we were contemplating adding another human being to our small, still fragile unit.

It’s incredible that he was just a possibility, not even two years ago.

9 thoughts on “Second Son

  1. Your family is amazing….the way you describe the difference between both of your son’s makes me wonder (if I’m ever lucky enough to have a second child) if I’ll experience the same thing. Thanks for sharing!

  2. All of this is EXACTLY how I would describe my feelings of being a momma to Palmer and then almost 4 years later being a momma to my Éloise. I sometimes wonder how it even is that I housed these completely different souls in the same womb. Love everything about this post (as always) Kristin. Also, I can hardly wait to see what will come next for you. I remember stepping into your office at Corus when you’d announced you were moving on and feebly admitting in what was probably considered a whisper by my standards (which as we both know is nothing near a whisper 😉 ) that I had a blog. I was so excited for you as I am again! How is it possible all those years have passed already? Wishing you a healthy dose of daring as you take your next step!

  3. So much of this rings true to my experience parents my two boys. The little one is doing a great job at proving how little of my supposedly stellar parenting shaped the easy-going big one. I’m excited (and a little scared!) to see who my younger will turn out to be; I hope he uses his powers for good instead of total world domination.

  4. Kristin, I love your description of Jude’s personality. It sounds very similar in a lot of ways to Noah’s! I think when they meet they will either hate or love each other, haha. Perhaps my second will be closer in disposition to Nolan.

  5. This is so wonderful. Your love for both boys rings so loud and true. My first two girls were TOUGH right from the get-go and I had friends with mild-mannered babies the same age and I could always sense a bit of “you must be doing it wrong” from them. Which sucked. Then Brin came along and she was just so inherently sweet and easy and soft and it restored my faith in me: we don’t get to choose our kids’ personalities. And I kind of wish everyone had at least one hard kid so they can realize that it’s not just awesome parenting that makes a good, easy and laid-back kid. Good parents can have tough, strong-willed little turds for kids, too.

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