Yesterday we went to my Women's Group at the church. We stop first in the room the women meet in to drop off my books and our coats. Then we march down the hall to bring the kids to the nursery where they'll play with the other kids and three lucky babysitters. We do this once a month, just as we have for the last two years with the same set of women and their kids.
Logan went right over to the first boy roughly his age and started up a dialogue about Thomas underwear and using the potty. I whispered in his ear "Now remember, if you have to use the potty tell the ladies before its emergency time so they can come get me to help you. Ok?" And he said happily enough "Ok Mommy, I won't have an accident. Don't worry. I'll be ok."
The other mother smiled knowingly and said "Wow, Logan, the potty! That's great!" Then she looked at me and said "He's three now right."
"Oh, not quite yet," I said. Logan piped up "No. I'm only two now. I'll be three on my birthday on June Fir-tee-if" (also known as June thirtieth.)
She blinked, this other mother literally noticeably blinked. Looked at my pipsqueak again and then said "Oh, well he talks like he's already three." Then she patted her 40-month old on the head and said "That's just because he's the firstborn. My first born spoke fairly well but by the time we got to this one, well I'm not sure he's using complete sentences consistently to this day."
This isn't a new critique for us. Its what we often hear when it comes to Logan and it has replaced the old standby "Well he's an only child, so that explains it." But it doesn't.
Logan doesn't speak well because he's the oldest (or back when because he was an only). Logan is just Logan. I'm sure that his abilities got some extra benefit from being on his own for two years, but its not the only factor. The bonus of birth order was merely having a little extra time in our day to help nurture his potential - it didn't create said potential. And so when folks flippantly dismiss his abilities with a tip of the head and quick explanation as my friend did yesterday, it annoys me because in a way it devalues his accomplishments.
Will his sister follow in his footsteps? Who knows. She is clearly much more physical as a baby. She's been hitting her milestones several weeks younger than her big brother had when he was her age. Will she simply just be more phyiscal and not as verbal? Possibly but that will just be her uniqueness, not her birth order. Then again, if her current delight in hearing her own voice is any indication, Miss Thing will be a talker. Maybe not as young as her brother, but eventually she will posses the ability to talk ones ear off just as he does today.
When you have children you get a lot of advice from everyone in your path - from the mail carrier to the person on line behind you in the supermarket. I think everyone that saw me walking with Logan while I was pregnant had input on how my 2nd would never have the same exposure to sorts of things Logan did because it was simply impossible and therefore she'd not do the things he was capable of doing when he did them.
But I disagree. Megan will not have the same exposure to the same things in a solo fashion, but she will have the same exposure to the things her brother did as an infant - and then some. When Logan was 6 months old we'd sit on the floor and play together. We'd read together. We'd snuggle. We'd sing and dance. Megan does all that its just that sometimes the books we read are the ones her big brother selects instead of the baby board books he'd have read at her age. She doesn't get to slow dance on her own all the time because sometimes its three of us doing the hokey pokey. She doesn't always get to sit and play with her stuffed beasts because sometimes she's too busy on my lap attempting to fling a small toy crane from one side of the room to other as we play trucks with the big brother. Instead of having just adults talk to her and play with her day in and day out, she has the two-and-half-year old she worships dote on her as well. You can see it in her eyes, she watches everything he does and she tries to emulate it.
This morning she was lying on her stomach doing that fish-out-of-water thing 6 month-olds do. For yucks I told him to show her how to crawl. So Logan crawled. And Megan watched. Then she did her very best to pull her one knee up underneath her. She didn't do it, but she did struggle hard enough at it that she managed to inch worm herself forward and for now that pacified her.
When he sneezes, she laughs. Then she scrunches up her face and squeaks out "Ewww!" before giggling her ever fuzzier head off. When he's upset and wants some good old fashioned cuddling, he whines "Mommy! I need you!" and he reaches out to me. When Megan has had enough of being somewhere other than a set of arms she reaches out her arms and she hums "Mmmmmmmma!" I'm not about to write down somewhere that her first word came at 5 1/2 months and it was "Mom", but I will say that this is a sound she makes ONLY when she wants me to pick her up.
We have no idea what Megan will do as she grows. No idea where her talents will lie. She may develop her verbal abilities on track with what the books say to expect. She may take her time and be a late bloomer because it won't be surprising to find that she can't get a word in edgewise. OR, she may talk early and often as her brother did. All of that is fully dependent on her own unique developmental path. Just as Logan's has been/will continue to be. Its got nothing to do with when he arrived in our lives, just with the person that he is. I just wish folks would give him the credit for it.