A few months ago, I tried to write a post about the differences in parenting Abigail vs. Eleanor in an easier/harder way. But as I was brainstorming with paper and pencil, I just confused myself. "Well, Abigail's easier to take out in public. No, actually Abigail is only easier at church, Eleanor is way easier everywhere else. Okay, new topic. Eleanor is better at following directions. Except Abigail is better at helping clean up her toys. No, sometimes when she's feeling oppositional, it's easier to get Eleanor to help." I found that there were no rules of thumb, it's like they take turns being the easy one of the day. Or they are both the difficult one. Even Eleanor, in a lesson learned directly from Abigail, will sometimes bolt at the store or in a parking lot. So the post was scrapped and I forgot about it.
Until Saturday. We were at an outdoor mall and I left Abigail and Theodore with Matt and ran next door to Sephora (a makeup store) with Eleanor. As soon as we walked in the door, the sales girls started cooing. "She's soooo cute!" "Awww, she's carrying her little kitty stuffed animal!" "That's so adorable!" Now granted, Eleanor is really stinkin' adorable, especially on Saturday with her sparkly shoes and her pink vest with her little reddish brown curls and her kitty stuffed animal. Every time we crossed an aisle with a sales clerk, I could hear "awww" following us.
That has never happened to me when I go into a store with Abigail. We get double takes and stares. Sometimes we get flat-out ignored. Occasionally someone will come up close, get in Abigail's face, tell me in a thick voice that I find to be over-dramatic, "Your daughter is beautiful." Walking through a store with Abigail is a totally different experience than walking through a store with Eleanor.
It used to really bother me. Made me wanted punch the world's lights out or run away with my family to a remote cabin in the wilderness where we could hide from the world. But nowadays I don't really care. "What? The store clerks don't like my special needs daughter? Shocker, now get out of the way. I haven't been to a makeup store in about nine months and I need to get my favorite date-night lipstick and get back to my nursing baby before he looses it."
It turns out the secret to kid problems is to just have more kids. Is the cry it out method good or bad? Is sleeping with your baby dangerous? Cloth or disposable diapers? Who cares. I'm three kids deep and suddenly I'm all, "Abigail, we're all done outside. Get back in the house and I'll give you ice cream" because Theodore is awake and Eleanor needs a diaper change and I'm so not doing the count-to-five, timeout, actions=consequences thing right now.
I'm really surprised it doesn't bother me; I thought I would struggle forever. I'm totally the right type: I can hold grudges, it's hard for me to forgive, I'm judgmental, I don't get along with others very well. I keep questing it, like I'm pressing on an old scar: Does it hurt? Nope. Are you sure? Better try again.
In other kid-related-news-bouncing-around-my-head, I'm attempting to potty train Eleanor. Starting today. She's got all the readiness signs and I found a book at the library called Potty Training Girls the Easy Way so I figured I'll give it a go. I'm keeping my expectations very low and planning on having three in diapers for many moons to come. After all, Abigail is not even almost ready and Theodore is a baby, so what's one more in diapers? So far Eleanor is crazy excited about her new Frozen underwear and has been in and out of the bathroom practicing sitting on the potty all morning. In my wildest of dreams, Eleanor will succeed and watching Eleanor will encourage Abigail, and by sometime this summer, I'll only have one in diapers. That seems pretty impossible from where I am standing right now, so, like I said, I'm really just dinking around and expecting mass quantities of diapers for the foreseeable future.
Lastly, as Eleanor gets older, it really highlights for Matt and I how different Abigail is. For example, we got invited to a bbq bonfire later this month. If it was just Eleanor and Theodore, it'd be fine. Not the most kid-friendly event, but manageable. It'll be late, so I can bring a pack n play for Theodore. I can tell Eleanor that the fire is hot and she needs to stay by Mommy. She will because she takes that sort of thing very seriously. She normally goes to bed around 7:30/8pm, but she can stay up late and be just fine. She'll sleep in the next day, or maybe take a longer nap.
But Abigail? Now that's a different story. I definitely can't trust her near a fire. As sure as I'm sitting at this computer, she would try to touch the flames. She would also throw someone's favorite toy into the flames, and very likely her own. I would not trust anyone, not even Matt or myself to keep her under control every single second, so under no circumstances would I permit Abigail near an open fire unless she was physically strapped to Matt or I in a carrier or strapped into a stroller. But that stinks too because she doesn't want to be strapped down when her sister and friends are running around playing. She'll act out by yelling and whining and choking herself.
Abigail doesn't do well when she's tired, she goes nonverbal, she acts out, she's not nice to her peers. Nothing brings out Abigail's behavioral issues like when she's tired. We're totally used to this because this is our normal, but we're starting to understand why people always think we're being rude or overprotective when we leave parties before 7pm or have weird rules for Abigail.
What would normally be a simple question, "What to come to our bonfire?" requires a sit-down discussion between Matt and I. We thought everyone with young kids was like us, it's rather strange to us that they're not.