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Friday, January 7, 2011

Thing Two

The Second Child Syndrome. We all know about it - first hand, second hand, through the grapevine - you remember Jan Brady's meltdown, "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!"

I am fascinated by the second child because it's been so prominent in my family. My father was the second son in his family, my sister was the second daughter in our family and now I have a second child of my own - Thing Two.

They say that while the first child is the CEO, the second child is the entrepreneur and I can see that. Thing Two has an agenda of his own. Somehow, he manages to get what he wants and makes you believe it was your idea.

My mother picked him up after Pre-K one morning in October and she asked him, "What do you want to do today?"

"Can you take me to Toys R Us? I promise not to beg for a toy if you take me to Dunkin' Donuts after for hash browns."

I guess she thought that sounded innocent enough. But she was suckered into buying him a Zhu Zhu pet - an awful, noisy rat-like hamster that travels on wheels.

"This hamster was nine-dollars! Do you realize how much money that is?" She lectured him when they left Toys R Us.

"Okay, then we don't have to go to Dunkin' Donuts because you don't have enough money," he said all proud of himself for being so considerate.

On the way home, he fell asleep in the stroller holding his toy snug in his arms. You might think that's cute, but it's about a mile and a half walk from Toys R Us that my poor mother had to make without a coffee break.

Lacking confidence under big brother's shadow? Don't make me laugh. That's one second child trait Thing Two does not harbor. I think he gets just as much attention as his big brother, maybe even more. I looked back at videos of Thing Two when he was a baby and all I hear is big brother in the background vying for attention. It makes me sad now because - being the eldest myself - I said I would never ignore the older child for the cute little baby...but I did.

That was the past, however, and I console myself by saying Thing Two could never complain that he was ignored or put second or throw a tantrum like Jan Brady. Big brother had two whole years to himself after all. There are no hard feelings because big brother clearly adores Thing Two. They really do get along even though they fight like Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots. No blood has been spilt...this night.

One significant trait of the second child I've noticed that's remarkable in Thing Two is the need to be secretive. When I thought about it, I remembered my father and my sister did the same thing. Experts say the second child is secretive because they don't want to be compared to their siblings but I disagree. I think it's that they've figured out - from watching big bro or big sis - that if you put yourself out on the line, you're going to get shot. So they'd rather let you hear what they've done after the fact.

That's why I can't get Thing Two to promise me anything, no matter how much I bribe him.

"If you're good at the doctor's office, I promise we'll get you a toy." I offered.

Nothing. No answer. Not even a nod of the head, just puppy eyes looking up at me with an upside down smile. He knows he can't commit to that.

But what does he say after he received his flu shot booster and managed not to kick the doctor in the nuts?

"You said you would get me a toy if I was good."

Thing Two and Big Brother


  1. Zhu Zhu pets freak me out some ... I think they may take over the world...I think the entrepeneur is always one step ahead ...PS I love the new look here I have been busy and absent which is lame

  2. I've never heard that second children were secretive. That's very interesting.

    It's amazing how smart second children can be. They catch on quickly from watching the older sibling. Sounds like yours keeps you on your toes!

  3. Yes, I think we should ban Zhu Zhu pets - I got real mice, thank you very much.

    And the "secretive" trait was news to me, too. But it explained a lot.