Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The Middle Child

My second child, now nearly 4, was conceived in Paris, across the street from the Louvre, in a comfortable hotel (this is already probably more than you ever wanted to know). We were visiting Jane's parents in England. The trip to Paris was thrown together rather hastily, after Grandma and Grand Dad suddenly volunteered to watch the little boy for a couple of days, giving us our first bonafide vacation in about two years.

Our three days and two nights in the city of lights was a whirlwind. We found time to enjoy many of the touristy things that were on my agenda: to bask in the gaze of the Mona Lisa, look upon the Venus de Milo, climb the steps to the Sacre-Coeur, enjoy the view of the city from atop the L'Arc de Triomphe, relax on a boat tour on La Seine, stand before the Eiffel Tower, and wander through the ever present cafes and galleries in this great city. So it was fitting that we brought back to America a souvenir of this wonderful trip. We came as two, and we left as three.
My daughter and second child is a beautiful, healthy little girl who loves to be in charge. In a group, she will be the one handing out assignments: "you be the mommy, you be the baby..." Once she's got you in her program, its hard to get away.

Her table prayer each night goes like this: "Come lord Jesus, be our guest, and let Big Gifts, to us be blessed, Amen!" I've tried correcting her in the past, that its "these gifts, not big gifts," but I no longer try. I have my table prayer, she has hers, and I delight in hearing her say it.

There is something very special to a father about having a daughter. I like to think I treat all my kids the same. But here is what I suspect of myself: I suspect she gets away with more, and that she receives the benefit of the doubt more often than the boys. I suspect that when I'm in a store and see a nice dress, I'm more apt to buy it for her than I am to buy clothes for the boys. I also suspect that I am more likely to do little favors for her than for the boys, like carry her up some steps. Try as I might to treat all the kids the same, as my only girl, she always seems to get a little extra special treatment.

I'm glad she was the second child. I have to admit, I wanted a boy for my first child. I think every man does, even those like me who always told their pregnant wife, "it doesn't make any difference to me whether its a boy or a girl Honey, just as long as its healthy!" The truth for me was, deep inside I wanted a boy for the first child, and even felt some pressure to have one. Is it rational to feel that way? Of course not -- I had no kingdom that needed an heir. But there was that nagging little feeling deep inside that I needed to recreate myself. As though somehow it was up to me, and if I secretly rooted for a boy I could impact the outcome. It certainly doesn't mean I wouldn't have loved her any less if she was my first child. But I've always felt that she somehow did me a favor, enlisting to be the second child.

Today's lesson: kids are just like people, only smaller, or, Paris is a great place to conceive kids.

No comments: