Monday, June 09, 2008
HOW MANY KIDS?
Time and again I find myself being asked how many kids I have. My answer often shocks. On a Friday, for example, I take the two wee ones to Mother and Toddlers, and I am often asked things like - How are you finding it now you have 2? Last Saturday Charlotte and Léon were invited to a party so I took them and Anna, leaving Marcel to play golf with my dad. Again I was asked by strangers if Anna was my 3rd baby. Always when I reply 4, people look stunned and invariably, because they have one or two kids themselves, ask How do you cope? I started to analyse it. Obviously I have experience of having an only child - I did that for 29 months. I have experience of having just 2 - that lasted five and a half years. I have been mum to 3 - for nearly two and a half years. And now I'm trying out 4. My experience ironically, given the average number of kids people have, is that the hardest number of kids to have - by a mile - is actually 2. When you have 1, you have to entertain them more but there is no niggling. Personally, I'd rule out 1 as being too high maintenance. When you have just two, especially when they are within a few years of each other, their main pastime, from they learn to talk until they leave home is fighting, arguing, winding, niggling... There is no one there to distract or change the focus so the two kid family is sibling rivalry all the road. When you throw a third wee baby into the mix, 1 and 2 still fight but they are distracted several times a day by this bright shiny new sibling. It brings out their protective instinct - the 2 fighting sibs suddenly find themselves on the same side admiring number 3, loving number 3, playing with number 3. Number 4 simply strengthens that position. It gives more reasons for the older ones to help, love and be on the same side. I think the mistake many people make these days is to get to two, feel tired and stressed and assume coping with any more would just be too hard. I would suggest, given that childcare for 2 is now so expensive many women are giving up working anyway, that more should at least try out a third - just to see if I am right!