- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 6, 2004

The Little Viking is saying goodbye to the readers of this column today. Nope, his adventures aren’t over; at 21 months, they barely have begun.

But he’s expecting a two-legged addition to the family soon — Baby Viking — and he and Mommy won’t be able to devote their time and effort to this column.

Becoming an older brother no doubt will be challenging and fun at the same time. It will mean less time alone with Mommy and Daddy, but eventually having a new buddy with whom to fight and play, tease and teach, love and learn.

The Little Viking and his younger sibling will be almost 22 months apart, an age difference that’s both ripe for rivalry and conducive to comradeship — hopefully, more of the latter.

Initially, despite our efforts to prepare him, the Little Viking probably will be shocked and dismayed by all the attention the new baby gets.

We hope to show him it’s much more fun being a toddler than a helpless infant. The baby can’t eat meatballs with lingonberry jam, for example, and he can’t run and tumble, read “Clifford, the Big Red Dog” or say what he needs or wants. Sure, a newborn gets more attention than a toddler, but it’s overrated, really.

We hope to make clear to him that attention is not the same as love. Just because the baby is being held all the time doesn’t mean we love the Baby Viking more than the Little Viking.

We also plan to spend special “Mommy time” and “Daddy time” with our firstborn each day to reassure him as much as we can that he’s still very special. If he wants to, we will invite him to help with the newborn, too, whether it’s handing Mommy a clean diaper or singing lullabies.

We’ve heard from the experts, however, that it’s important not to be too pushy. If the older sibling doesn’t want to be a little helper, then let him be.

At his end, our 21-month-old surely hopes all the lessons he’s taught Mommy and Daddy about teething, eating and sleeping habits, first colds, first falls, cries, travel, first steps and words, dealing with Loke the 90-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback, skin rashes, and runny noses will come to good use. He hopes the lessons will allow his parents, particularly Mommy, to relax a bit more and not call the pediatrician at all hours of the day and night with her often exaggerated concerns.

Unfortunately, I can’t promise that. As parents, we feel a tad less nervous now than during those sleepless nights before the Little Viking was born. But not much. Each child is unique, and what held true for the Little Viking may not hold true for Baby Viking.

The Little Viking, a sturdy little guy who weighed in at 10 pounds, 6 ounces at birth, was a good sleeper until he started teething at 3 months and since then has been so-so. Baby Viking could be the other way around.

The only thing Mommy and Daddy truly know is that we don’t know much at all about child rearing. Whenever we think we have conquered one aspect of parenting, something else pops up and the old knowledge feels obsolete. One week, the best food in the world is ground turkey and the nastiest grub is green vegetables. The next week, the Little Viking won’t touch the poultry but loves his greens.

Parenting this time around will be different anyway. We were able to shower so much attention on the Little Viking from the get-go. I remember checking on him every five minutes or so when he was sleeping just to make sure he was breathing. (Needless to say, this didn’t do much good for my own sleep habits.) Now, he and the newborn will have to share both the good and the bad times.

A friend of mine once said that when it comes to children 1 plus 1 doesn’t equal 2, it’s 11. I hope he’s wrong. (My husband and I are thinking the two of us should be able to play man-on-man defense. I gather that parents with three or more children would have to play zone defense, which would require so much more game planning.)

My good friend also said that the joy and love balloons with each child. I know he’s right about that.

Gabriella Boston and her husband welcomed their “Little Viking” in May 2002. Send e-mail to [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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