Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Factor of Two

For the past month, Jennifer and I have been spreading some news which many of you already know: we are expecting a second child.  The little one is due in June, a month which will be upon us shortly.  It's practically the day after tomorrow, the way time has been flying lately.  Am I ready?  Probably not.  Am I stressed out because of that?  Nope.  At least, not yet.

You see, I am under the delusion that I've been through this before.  Sonograms and ultrasounds are no longer alien to me.  I know what the maternity ward of the hospital looks like, and I have changed enough diapers to own a major stake in the local landfill.  I've made many last-minute trips to the laundromat, and even had to clean the nursery's curtains after one unfortunate diaper change.  I have learned that "a good night's sleep" is subjective, and I have looked forward to sleeping on vacation more than the vacation itself.  The spit-ups, the tantrums, the destruction of property, the screams: been there, done that.  It's easy for me to feel confident and at ease with having a second child, until I start to really think about it, and I ask myself, Do I really have the energy to go through that again?  I dunno... maybe?  I'm starting to think that having another child is like completing a video game level on the Atari 2600: the next level might look exactly the same as the previous one, but by now you're weary, the opponents are tougher, and there's a big insect-like monster that comes out of nowhere and eats you up. 

So I guess the "big insect-like monster" in this analogy would be my son Kyle.  Hmmmm... I suppose that's not the most flattering description a father could give his first-born child.  Maybe I'll take back the "insect-like" part (though I swear sometimes he has the ability to fly into my gut, especially when I am sitting on the couch with a splitting headache), but the word "monster" isn't much of an exaggeration.  Just look at what he can do to our living room in about a minute's time:

See that smug expression on his face?  He knows what he's doing.  He knows he's creating a big mess.  In fact, he often says "big mess" when he's doing it.  Keep in mind, this picture was taken in the early afternoon.  By evening, the room is much worse, almost unrecognizable, often with half the bookcase emptied on top of all those Seinfeld DVDs, and with Cheerios and puffs scattered everywhere.  Kyle knows no mercy.  Each night after the little guy goes to bed, in an attempt to keep my sanity, I clean this mess up (with the help of Jennifer if she's back from work) so that I could sit back and watch TV without feeling like I'm inside a kid's playpen.  Sometimes cleaning the mess takes up to 45 minutes.  And this is just with one kid.  Imagine what will happen with two.

Then, of course, there are all the things I've described in previous posts.  Kyle is a demanding kid who has yet to learn the art of sympathy.  If I were to accidentally cut my finger off before breakfast, Kyle would still be screaming for waffles as I gush blood all over the kitchen.  I only wonder how he'll act once we can't give him our full attention.  Fortunately, we won't be dealing with two two-year-olds at once, since all the pregnancy books I've read don't mention any child ever being born that old.  I tip my hat to my cousins and anyone else who had twins, and then had a baby when those twins were around Kyle's age.  From what I understand, the military frequently visits homes like theirs to help soldiers prepare for the stresses of battle.

Granted, Kyle will have just turned three by the time our second child is born, so maybe he'll behave differently.  I'm not too optimistic, though, considering what I've heard from parents of three-year-olds.  From what I understand, having two kids will be fantastic later, perhaps when they're ages 7 and 4.  That's just four years from now.  Just one presidential term.  Four years with at least one kid being a maniac.  Four long, crazy, mind-numbing years.  Am I stressed out because of that?  Nope.  Not at all.  Really.

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