By Phil Stott So it turns out that my kid's a nightmare. Well, at least in comparison to my brother-in-law's almost-eleven-month-old daughter anyway. A month younger than Maeve, she also happens to be an exceptionally docile creature. I met her for the first time last Thursday when my wife's brother, and his wife, came out to New York to visit us. Despite having waited in the rain at a train station for at least five minutes following a 30-minute train ride from the airport and a five-hour flight from Phoenix, she didn't melt down when I arrived to pick them up. Maeve? Not so much-not a big fan of strangers, she takes a long time to warm up to new people, especially men. The next step was the car ride home. Maeve is at the stage where we pretty much drive around with the same song on repeat in order to keep her calm (Coldplay's Viva La Vida, since you ask-she seems to like the intro). On good days, she'll fall asleep, or play with something long enough to forget that she hates her car seat. On bad days, you don't even want to know. But Maeve's cousin? Smiled as she was put in the seat, babbled a bit, fell asleep until we got home, didn't even cry when we woke her up taking her inside. No music required. Initially, I put the even-tempered performance down to the fact that she was tired from traveling and being on a plane (completely ignoring how Maeve reacts to tiredness), but over the course of the weekend the gulf in personalities showed up so often that it became difficult to ignore. When the two girls were playing together, it was Maeve who consistently stole her cousin's toys, and yelled whenever something was taken away from her. It seems like it was always Maeve who had to be told to be gentle, to give something back, to share (all fairly abstract concepts for a not-quite-one year old, I know, but you have to start somewhere, especially when your kid's the tyrant and the other's parents are right there). Not to belabor the point, it was also Maeve who was responsible for my wife and I alternating shifts bolting food at the table and standing outside with the stroller and an arsenal of toys at a Manhattan tapas restaurant. Her cousin, aunt and uncle, meanwhile, got to enjoy its warmth and comfort in full (for the 20 minutes it took us to scarf the meal and chug the wine we'd ordered, that is), the way one can when a baby sits contentedly in a high chair. And did I mention that she's so quiet they can take her to the movies? I have no idea if there's a reason behind the differences in behavior, or if it's just the vagaries of fortune. I've contemplated the idea that it's something to do with the difference between breast and bottle feeding (Maeve gets the former, her cousin the latter since she was four months old), but that seems an unlikely conclusion-not to mention a deeply unscientific one to reach off a population sample of two. I'm pretty sure that it's not a question of discipline at this age either. Maybe it's the difference in climate between Phoenix and New York, or just that being a New Yorker, however young, gives one what might be called an edge. Whatever it is, I do know a couple of things for certain. First, no matter how she behaves from time to time, in this father's eyes no kid will ever be better than Maeve, more fun to be around, or more loved. And the second thing also happens to be the best bit of parenting advice I've come across to date in my short career: this too shall pass. That was the thought that crossed my mind as I drove away from the airport after dropping the relatives for their flight home. One that was followed, naturally, by the fervent hope that we'll get revenge in the well-behaved baby stakes. My fingers are already crossed for some retribution during the terrible twos!
- Survival Guide
- RAISING SAVVY KIDS