Tuesday, October 22, 2013

From One Third Child to Another

A very special guest post from Ellie.

Dear Sweet little Hannah,

Even at six months old, you and I already share so much in common. Not only do we hold the same place in the family at number three, but we both also have amazing hair that seems to be the topic of many conversations.  The last time I chatted with your big sister on Skype she was blowing on your hair as you sat casually in your bouncy chair, and she was saying that it just never wants to lie down! Great, I say. You let that hair do as it pleases!  Your Grandfather (my father) likes to claim that he can guess the humidity rate based on my hair, and I think we will both have to start taking comments like those as compliments! Who wants flat boring hair anyway?!  

You are a quiet, adorable addition to the family, always chilling in your bouncy chair or lying on a comfy blanket under a mobile of farm animals while your brother and sister run around chasing each other and simultaneously leave behind a trail of toys and legos to test your Mom and Dad's pain tolerance (stepping on a Lego might be the most painful thing in the world).  I believe that our position in the family sets the stage for personality development right from the get to.  You and I were born into an environment where a happy—albeit, chaotic—family dynamic had already been established. As third children, we must work at entering this environment, hence our charming personalities (couldn't resist!) as we win the hearts of our older siblings and parents.  We might sometimes have been forgotten on the floor before we could crawl or even sit up, and taken a nap while we waited patiently for Mom to remember us, but that is all character building; it prepares us for much more challenging issues that life might throw at us.  We spend our early years observing our surroundings, helping us to see all sides of a situation and be able read people well (I still believe this AND reading every Nancy Drew and Bobbsey Twins mystery out there makes us perfect Private Investigators!) We are flexible and can go with the flow, and not frequently getting to sit in the front seat or having matching white socks is no big deal...  

A few words of wisdom that I have learned and accepted as a Third Child that might one day help you out are the following:

  • Being different, or unconventional, keeps the world an interesting place! I am left handed and I love living in a developing country (for the most part).  Embrace those differences! Being left handed is cool. So is Guatemala.
  • Having an older brother and sister is the perfect combination. You have two amazing role models to look up to and who want nothing more than to make sure their little sis is happy.  You can learn so much from them.
  • Bug Mom and Dad for a little brother (a sister would be ok) because having one of those is pretty damn cool, too.
  • It's ok if you are not always as chatty as your siblings, or if sometimes you feel like talking, and sometimes you don't.  Just sitting back and listening is nice—you have grasped that well so far.  As you grow up with the constant chatter of a big sister and brother, it's ok to even at the age of 28 enjoy sitting around the dinner table and listen to your family talk but not always feeling like you have to contribute. 

To sum it all up, you are in an ideal situation.  Your mom and dad adore you.  You have an older sister who might pretend she is going to tattle on you, but really she just worries a bit and wants to make sure that you are always ok.  You have an older brother who no doubt will be quietly protective of you and proud as you carve out your own unique path.   If you have a younger sibling, you will love watching them grow up and always think of them as your “little” brother or sister even if they are miles taller than you.  You will understand the protectiveness that Lilly and Jack feel for you as you now want to make life easier for the little guy to go through.   

I can't wait to watch your little personality develop even more.  Keep using that left hand and smiling your cute one-tooth smile.  And remember, you can always come to Auntie Ells to talk about anything, from why we need to collaborate and write a book on Third Children, to pointers on hair styles and products.

Lots and lots of love and cuddles,

Your Aunt and fellow Third Child, Ells.

Ellie and Hannah's first selfie! (May 2013)
Third children, already deep in conversation. (May 2013)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lilly's Hair Salon

Today marks one week since Lilly decided to take her scissors to hair during quiet time.  It was a quiet time like every other; Lilly has a basket of art supplies at her disposal to use during this time.  She entertains herself for hours with construction paper, crayons, markers, pencils, glue, stickers and scissors.  She usually draws, makes cards for her friends and writes stories.  She usually cuts out streamers and ice cream cones and letters.  We usually don't have to worry about her with scissors.  Until last Sunday.

Jack and Hannah were asleep, Lilly was upstairs in our room, Jim was sitting downstairs studying and I went off to the gym.  When I returned, Jim looked at me and just shook his head.  He said that Lilly called him up to "show him something" and proceeded to show him first her "new haircut" and then all the hair that was all over the floor.  Jim handled the situation better than I would have.  He calmly told her that cutting her hair wasn't acceptable behavior and that he had to sit down and talk to me about what we were going to do.  If Jim hadn't told me what I was about to see, I don't know if I would have been able to hold it together upon seeing Lilly's hair.  My immediate reaction was anger.  I knew that Lilly knew better than that.  I started thinking about her school pictures next week and our family pictures in a few weeks.  We had just taken to the lady who cuts my hair, who had given her the cutest haircut!  And now this...  We talked about being responsible and trusting Lilly with scissors.  We talked about how you choose to behave when no one is looking.  We talked about always asking before doing things and then I came downstairs, leaving Lilly to think about her behavior.

When I took a step back and stopped to think about what had just happened, I realized that in the grand scheme of life, Lilly cutting her hair is trivial.  I realized that Lilly is four.  She's only four!  This is what four year olds do.  They experiment and test boundaries and cut hair.  Hair grows back.  She knew that she shouldn't cut her hair, but I don't think she fully understood what the outcome would be.  No one was hurt, and although Lilly's short term hairstyle is not one that I would have chosen, it will be one that we always remember and joke about when she's older.  In reality, for the amount of hair that she cut off, she did a pretty good job.  She thought about how she was going to cut it (up to her ears) and although she cut more off one side than the other, she did cut both sides.  It will be salvageable, and even if it wasn't, it is only hair.

This was another parenting moment that snuck up on Jim and me, as most parenting moments do.  Looking back on how we handled it, I am confident we got our point across.  Lilly understands that it was wrong; she knows she can't use scissors during quiet time until she earns back our trust.  But she is not self conscious about her hair.  Once we talked about it last Sunday, we've joked about it with her a few times but have purposely not commented on what her hair looks like.  She was telling Gigi and Papa on Skype that she cut her hair, and Dad joked that she must want hair like him or Uncle Duane, as they are the only two people she knows who cut their own hair.  Lilly of course thought this was hysterical.  She also thinks that her hair has grown back already and is back to its "nice hair cut like the lady did at the salon."  I say that's debatable.

Checking out her handiwork.
A few days later, when we could laugh about it.
And, because Auntie Ellie mentioned that she was proud of Lilly for cutting her own hair, as she did when she was little, I can't let this go without photographic evidence of that too.

Pre Haircut.  This picture is amazing in and of itself.
Bangs courtesy of herself.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sweet (Six-Month Old) Hannah

Six Months.  Our baby Hannah is slowly becoming less of a baby and more of a little person.  She smiles and giggles.  She has spiky hair and a gummy smile, which I'm sorry to say has numbered days.  Hannah's first tooth popped through on Friday.  If you look really carefully (you might have to click on the picture to enlarge it!) you can see it sneaking in.

She picks up toys, shakes them, puts them in her mouth and then drops them a few seconds later.  She wobbles when she sits and rolls her way across the floor to reach a rattle.  She watches every move that Lilly and Jack make, and smiles a smile that lights up the room when either of them sits and talks to her.  She loves peek-a-boo and pears and avocado and butternut squash and sweet potato. She enjoys eating her toes and her fingers; actually, she enjoys eating anyone's fingers.  She loves sucking her thumb, just like her big brother.  She adores her jump-a-roo.  Hannah will try and watch anything on television, which a characteristic we see in Lilly; commercials, football, you name it.  If you try and distract Hannah (or Lilly) when the television is on, she turns her head away so that she can get a better view.  She giggles and squeaks when you talk to her and kicks her legs when she laughs.    

Spiky hair in full force

Whenever people ask me how Hannah is as a baby, all I can say is that she really is a dream come true. She's such a little ray of sunshine and it's hard to believe that she's only been in our lives for six months. It's amazing to think that Jack and Lilly will (most likely) not remember their lives before Hannah was born.  We could not have asked for a better little addition to our family!

Definitely framed.  There's no way Hannah made this mess by herself.  
A little pre-lunch ladies' book club
Not so sure about that first taste of rice cereal!
First swing, at a beautiful park on the beach in Fairfield.

Hannah has a pretty good sad face too.
But mostly, this is how we see her.
These cheeks should definitely be packing away acorns for the winter!

Thumb sucker #2.