When I found out I was pregnant, my partner really wanted to talk it through with his sister because they are close and it came to us as a very lovely, shocking surprise, and he was crapping his pants about it. It is quite surprising that Eddy and his sister came from the same parents. She is very organised and has always gone through life doing things the sensible way, thinking of the future and seeming to be fairly grown up and headstrong from day one. Eddy is not. He has told me in the past that he has never felt grown up, and what is more, has very few plans to even attempt to be. In his eyes, anyone who appears grown up is just pretending. He looked at our daughter the other day and said in disbelief: “I own a person and she is relying on me. God help her!”
Comforting. I can now only assume that when he told his sister, she felt both delighted and slightly peeved, as much to our surprise, she was pregnant too. She had, however, got married first, bought a house and waited a year or so before getting pregnant. She was now waiting the sensible 12 weeks before telling anyone.
Eddy and I had the alternative style. After being together for a few years, we had just started a joint job venture that would make child rearing somewhat tricky. We had got quite drunk over New Year and were spreading the surprising news at 4 weeks in order to share around the panic. In doing so, we had clumsily stolen her thunder. She was incredibly gracious about it and just asked Eddy if he would mind refraining from telling any parentals, so that she could tell them her news first. So our pregnancy went tiptoeing along, as we tried hard not to be too annoying while attempting to share the limelight as best we could.
There are many fantastic advantages to this situation; for example, the children will hopefully become great friends. Being of a similar age, they will have so much more in common. The advantage for us, as parents, is we will have someone to talk to who is going through exactly the same thing at the same time. The only slight downside to the situation is that all of us cannot help but compare the two children and they will have a direct comparison for the rest of their lives. We have all shamelessly done it from day dot; comparing the different styles of attack as soon as we all knew that we were expecting babies to different parenting routines.
When I found out I was pregnant, I had worked with children for over 8 years, including some newborns, so I was feeling fairly relaxed about taking care of a baby. I had other things on my mind – a house, money, job, the cost of baby equipment and not being able to give it back at the end of the day. Then there was my body changing, and my relationship changing too; amongst many other things. I busied myself with trying to accumulate the apparatus we needed for a new baby, spending countless hours on Gumtree.
Eddy’s sister, faced with a new challenge, put her superpower to good use – planning. She got herself really organised, emailing me spreadsheets that she had made. Spreadsheets. I struggle to get Eddy to make a shopping list.
As you can imagine, the two sets of parents have produced two quite different children. This was evident from the beginning of their little lives, but these differences have become more apparent as they grow older. I may be a little biased, but I think my niece and daughter are both pretty damn gorgeous and cute, and my niece is turning out to be a bit of a high achiever. I think this is down to a combination of genetics (her dad does Iron Mans) and dedicated parenting.
During our first Christmas together, I watched them spend time encouraging their daughter to roll over. They did this by rolling on the floor next to her and then tipping her to the point that she could just about do it, and applauding her when she achieved it. They did this repeatedly until she had achieved that milestone at a heroically early age. I observed this from the sofa with a glass of wine in my hand. As I looked over at my own baby, who was lying on her back, not making any attempt to roll over, all I could think was, I quite like it that you can’t move.
We were on Skype to them the other day and Eddy’s sister was saying that her daughter could do some animal noises. Eddy was saying, ‘Ah yes, J’s got her mooing down.’ Eddy’s sister turned and asked her daughter, ‘Darling, can you do the mating call of the North American black-capped chickadee?’ and my niece recreated the call in perfect pitch while finishing off her crossword. J walked into the background of the video with a bright orange ping-pong ball wedged in her mouth. We all turned to look at her and she just stood there, ball wedged, waving. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Maybe I should have encouraged a bit of rolling.
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