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Second Child Syndrome

2013 September 11


This little guy started preschool today and (as expected) drop off was rough.

We always joke about “second child syndrome” – that piece of food that fell on the floor? The second child can totally have it. The all-natural everything 24/7? It’s more like 21/4 with the second child. No sugar, TV or Disney characters before the age of two? Worked great with Little D, but Kai practically learned to love M&Ms on his way out of the womb.

But for all the hand me downs, flexible rules and after-thoughts that come with having your second child, somehow they end up more nurtured than your first. At least around here. Kai wants an extra snuggle before bed? Sleep training is kind of over-rated anyways. He wakes up in the middle of the night crying? I give in almost immediately. He wants to avoid the potty like the plague? Whatever, let’s not rush the kid.

With the second child, I find we spend less time on “proper parenting” and more time on pure love.

So this morning’s drop off was pure misery. We knew going into it it wasn’t going to be easy, he has expressed himself quite clearly over the past few weeks: “I DON’T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL.”

We got him a new lunch bag which got him excited for about 94 seconds. We had his big sister (who just left this same preschool) tell him about all the cool things he was going to do. We brought out the M&Ms.

When we walked in, he was ok. He saw his teachers and got a little shy. And then a tractor caught his eye and he made his way over, sitting down next to a new friend and immediately taking control of the wheel.

And my husband and I looked at each other cautiously. Do we run out or say goodbye? Little D went through a period of bad drop offs when she started so we know from experience that you need to pull it off like a bandaid, turn around, keep walking, don’t look back. But we just kept looking at him.

“Ok Kai, we’re going to go,” I said, hesitantly. The tractor play stopped. The crying started. It progressed to wailing and so I left the room, leaving my poor husband behind. I watched through a small window as he clung to his arms, as the teacher pulled him away, tried to comfort him while he cried and cried. My husband turned away and made his way to me, waiting in the hallway, heart firmly sitting in my throat.

“He’s going to be ok. He’s going to be ok,” we kept repeating to ourselves. We tried to sneak in one last look and just saw him wandering aimlessly, a look of pure fear on his little face, searching everywhere for us, for familiarity, for comfort.

A mother passed by us in the hallway, coming from the “big” yard where the older kids are dropped off. Her face was streaked with wet tears, her hair a mess, her eyes sad and red.

“It doesn’t get easier on this side, either,” she said to us, assuming this was our first child we were worrying about.

I know, I wanted to say. It’s second child syndrome. It’s pure love. It’s even worse.

13 Responses leave one →
  1. Liz Duncan permalink
    September 11, 2013

    This breaks my heart for some reason. It’s just something you have to do it and they’ll totally get over it, but it still hurts to hear the details of a child in a foreign room, who just wants the comfort of their parents and their home.

    I am not looking forward to these moments at all, but you have to do it and they’ll totally get over it.

    I’m sure the look on his face when you pick up from school will be worth a million dollars.

  2. September 11, 2013

    I was just thinking that it’s crazy how different my two kids are, but I parent them completely differently! The second child gets wayyyy fewer rules, toys and vegetables but she gets so many hugs I think/hope that makes up for it! ๐Ÿ˜•

    • WWGD permalink*
      September 16, 2013

      Totally! The basics are the same, but the small details are so different. But it’s all love in the end, so it’s fine, right?

  3. erin permalink
    September 11, 2013

    You’re so right. I baby my little guy relentlessly. I sometimes wonder if it’s just because he’s the 2nd or also because he’s a boy? Anyway, I can relate ๐Ÿ™‚

    • WWGD permalink*
      September 16, 2013

      I wonder that, too. The boy thing. Do they just steal our hearts like the big boys? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. September 11, 2013

    oh, hugs and love for all of you. may he find his comfort there quickly…

  5. Sara permalink
    September 12, 2013

    This is a GREAT spot-on post!

  6. September 12, 2013

    We share kids. You and I.

    My beloved daughter started 1st grade and my perfectly sensitive son transitioned to 3’s. Every year and any age leaves me in tears. As did this read. So much of your reflection rings true. For seconds. For love.

    Their little faces. Their courage in a room full of strangers. It’s almost too much to ask.

    here’s to loving your first and your second in every way. here’s to suffering through every new phase and stage.

    best of luck, Kai!

    ~ d.

    • WWGD permalink*
      September 16, 2013

      Love this, thanks for commenting.

  7. Judith permalink
    September 13, 2013

    commented on the wrong post!

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