Friday, October 07, 2005

Really old photos

I am still developing rolls of film that have been sitting around. This one is at least 15 years old.

This was our first summer in Michigan, after we moved here from Hawaii. Richard is reading to Shelagh and Liz, except we called her Lizzy back then.

Here they are on the front sidewalk of my folks' condo in Leland. Now Liz is taller than Shelagh, but she used to definitely be the younger sister.

Liz was often mad at me because (she thought) I had decided to let Shelagh be born first. She so wanted to be the bigger sister. I would find Liz walking around muttering under her breath: "I hate my sister. I hate my sister..." I worried that those words would become her mantra, so I used to grab her and hold her and rock her and say "Your momma loves you dearly and she always will. Your momma loves you dearly and she always will....", trying to give her a new mantra.

Now Shelagh and Liz are very close, getting on each others' nerves only occasionally.

Reading the news over the last few days, I have found out that I raised those two all wrong. I knew at the time that they were born too close together (19 months) so they were doomed to suffer from crippling sibling rivalry. When I went in for prenatal visits with Liz, the doctors and nurses told me every visit that 3 years between children was optimal, and asked me if I had ever heard about birth control.

I never bought them pacifiers (just one more thing to lose) and they often slept in our bed with us, usually with a head nestled under Dad's armpit for warmth. Now it turns out that sleeping with your parents is dangerous, and not buying a pacifier for your baby promotes SIDS. I'm unconvinced. It seems like pacifiers are always falling on the ground (or worse), getting lost, and just generally getting a lot more attention than they deserve.

But wait! There's More! I was supposed to have those kids toilet trained before they could walk!. It's an interesting idea, right up until they quote the mom who calls early toilet training "a gift in our relationship." I can't quite figure out what that means, but it sounds like something you would say if you were trying to present yourself (subtly, of course) as the best mother in the room.

I can't remember how or when any of my kids were toilet trained. (I vaguely remember when they learned to read, but even that was not a race. What makes a good life is not whether you could read when you were five, but wheteher you still love to read when you're 40.) I remember ignoring all kinds of unsolicited advice when my kids were young. I fear if I was raising babies now, I wouldn't be nearly as polite.

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