When you have your first child, everything is new and exciting. The first smile merits a professional photo shoot, every outfit is lovingly pressed and proudly displayed on Facebook (or any available social networking site). Each new milestone is shared with friends, family members, acquaintances and unsuspecting passers-by with great enthusiasm. The first “dada” is met with cheers and whoops from an adoring audience and the first day at school is a full on family affair with doting grandparents, aunts, uncles and neighbours present to witness the momentous occasion.
Nothing is too much effort for this child.
* * *
Then number two arrives….
Noticeably fewer newborn photographs adorn the walls and the handful of memories that are captured, lie neglected in that drawer – the one full of photos which never quite make the album. The 1st birthday is a simple gathering with just two close friends and if milestones are noted, it tends to be used as a comparison tool against the older sibling or a marker for any subsequent offspring. You arrive late on the first day at school and hurriedly catch a snapshot of their rear view as they disappear into the classroom. You wander home bemused, silently questioning why on earth there are so many dads at the school gate today.
Life just happens for this child.
* * *
Then along comes number three….
The only evidence you have of the third child ever being a baby, is the one dog-eared picture you still carry around in your handbag – 5 months counts as newborn, right? The hand-me-down babygros, lovingly stained with 3 year old pureed carrot are so useful for disguising any fresh spillages and pyjama days are all the rage now, anyway. First words are actually more of a full sentence – “Can I go to bed now please?” And you suddenly wonder who taught him to tell the time as he murmurs “It is past 7 o’clock”. You begin to question whether there is any need for school (he seems to have taught himself everything he needs to know) but dutifully drop him off at the allotted time. A little wave and a cursory “bye son, have fun” is all that is needed. You float out the door on cloud nine.