When I was pregnant with my second child, I couldn’t count the number of people who told me to “hang on — second kids are tough.”
I sort of scoffed at the idea at the time. My oldest son, Sam, was such an easy baby that I couldn’t imagine this new baby being anything but the same.
But then Elliott was born.
He made me throw out the window everything I thought I knew about being a parent. It’s like he knew, even as an infant, that his brother did something one way so he was going to do it the opposite — and most difficult — way.
Well, there’s now scientific evidence that backs up the theory that second-born children are indeed the troublemakers of the family. That goes double for boys who are born second.
The study, performed by MIT economist Joseph Doyle, examined data sets from families in Denmark and Florida. “Despite large differences in environments across the two areas,” he wrote, the results were consistent.
I should have known.
Even my pregnancy with Elliott was a roller coaster of events — doctors thought I was having a molar pregnancy early on, I developed gestational diabetes and my epidural failed during labor.
I thought maybe things would turn around after that. And they kind of did. For a little while.
Elliott was the easiest baby during his first two weeks of life. I think he was just trying to get us comfortable before hilariously crushing our dreams of having a kid who slept through the night early.
After those first two weeks, he refused to sleep alone for 11 months. Even today at 2 years old, he prefers to have us around 24/7.
And while his 5-year-old brother isn’t one to test boundaries, Elliott has no fear. He jumps, runs and climbs through our house as though he’s invincible (which, by now, he should know he most definitely is not). He’ll give me a side-eye look while doing something he knows he shouldn’t, and more often than not will act like he doesn’t hear me when I tell him to stop.
He doesn’t mind snatching toys from Sam. I once witnessed him smack his big brother right across the head over a toy. He willingly went to timeout on that one. We utter the phrase “go to timeout” more than we ever have in Sam’s five years.
Elliott accidentally tripped a fellow toddler at day care and, instead of apologizing, stood there laughing hysterically . (He did eventually say he was sorry.)
Recently, he bailed buckets of water out of the bathtub when my husband walked out of the room to grab towels. What an unpleasant surprise to walk into a puddle of water flowing out into the hallway.
If you leave a toy unattended, Elliott will find it. Leave treats out? Elliott will open them. Leave a crayon out? Elliott will use it on the walls. Or the floor. Or the couch. He’s not afraid to speak up when you’re doing something that makes him mad.
Perhaps this is more normal toddler behavior, and it’s new to us because Sam was pretty much the easiest kid ever.
Despite Elliott’s propensity for trouble or his complete disregard for rules, he has the biggest heart. When he loves you, he really loves you. He might laugh when you fall, but if you’re hurt, he’s the first to offer kisses on your boo-boo.
Yes, my second-born might be a bit more ornery than his brother, but he’s the sweetest kid — and worth all that trouble.