Wednesday, January 18, 2012

hopefully it will be more like a "Toy Story 3" than a "Godfather 3"

It's different your third time around, certainly.

Having your first baby is exciting. It's new and it's amazing and the change from being childless to parenthood is probably the biggest transition of many people's lives. Also you buy a lot of stupid crap that you don't need, like weird baby swings and matching crib linens and tons and tons of size 0-3 month onesies that get worn approximately one and a half times before being outgrown or irreparably soiled.

Your second baby is exciting too, in a different way. It's the idea of having kids, plural. The prospect of giving your first child a sibling. Most of the hand-me-downs are still around and none the worse for wear yet, and there's the newness and challenge of having not one, but two kids to divide your attention and time. I remember right before Mack was born, and dealing with Cal, who as we all know is a lovely boy but at three years old he was THE WORST--thinking, "I can barely deal with raising one, how can I possibly handle having two of these monstrosities around?"

When you get pregnant with your third kid, it's a little different. It feels like eyeing a big building project, analyzing the time and cost and supplies and labor (ho ho), frowning, making notes, then nodding and mentally slapping your cheeks with your hands, saying, "OK, I guess we can do this again." And this is not to take any of the happiness or romance out of the equation--certainly it doesn't need to be said that we love our children and baby children are a particular brand of adorable, like sweet, smushy little pillows that don't know how to argue with you yet--but it's all a little more grounded in reality this time around. Here's what we need to do. Here's what we need to get. Here's what we need to worry about now, and here's what we need to think about later. The fact that we'd already given away all (and I mean ALL) of the boy's baby stuff to Goodwill this spring certainly sets the stage for our mindset a little bit when we found out that we were in for Thing 3, but I can't say it's been a terribly difficult adjustment once we settled into the idea. What? We're what? So we're going to do this now? AGAIN? Fine. I mean, good.  That's cool, let's do this. OK. OK.

Besides, we like babies.

* * *

We told the kids last weekend. We debated back and forth about the perfect time, and decided that we'd wait until the results of the nuchal lucency and first trimester sequential screening (is that what it's called? OB-types, help me out here) came back clean before burdening their little heads with the foreknowledge of impending competition for the throne. That night, we bought a bottle of sparkling grape juice, poured out some for everyone, and told the boys that we were having a little celebration.

"For MLK's birthday?" asked Cal.

Well, no, not exactly, we explained. And after talking a little bit about FAMILY and FEELINGS and how LUCKY WE ALL ARE to have each other, we showed Cal the ultrasound photo and asked him what he thought it looked like.

He held the picture up, cocked his head, squinted a little bit.

"A rock?" he suggested.

"ROCKS!" said Mack agreeably, downing the rest of his sparkling grape juice and then reaching for the rest of the bottle.

* * *

Thanks for all your input about Cal and school, by the way. I can't say it makes the decision any easier, but more perspective is always good, I think. As for some of the clarifying particulars, I'll go into them here: we really like the school he's at. He's at a public school now, but it's an excellent public school in a fantastic school district (it is, indeed, the reason we moved to this neighborhood in the first place) and we actually like it quite a bit better than the private school he'd been attending the the three years prior. The teachers are excellent and the resources are very good, and we are not looking at changing schools at this moment. They do have a "gifted" program that Cal has already tested for--this discussion about what grade he's going into next year is actually distinct from that program, which I believe is offered as an "enrichment" curriculum for those kids who test into it, not an entirely separate, self-enclosed class.

We had floated the idea in the fall of Cal doing at least his math, and possibly also his reading curriculum with the class above his own, but this was problematic for several reasons. First of all, it seemed disruptive. Cal really bonded with his first grade teacher, and we really wanted him to make some friends in his class--he's never been the kind of kid that easily and immediately has five best friends wherever he goes. Pulling him out of his class once or twice a day not only seemed counterproductive to some of the social aspects of schooling, but also would have undoubtedly made Cal extremely self-conscious--he's not the kind of kid that likes a lot of attention being drawn to him. The other thing that would make this kind of "partial advancement" difficult is that ours is a very big school district--big enough that, a few years ago, they split up the elementary school into two separate campuses. Kindergarden, 1st and 2nd grade are all on the "primary" campus, where Cal is now, whereas 3rd, 4th and 5th grade are at the "intermediate" campus about half a mile away. "What's going to happen to Cal after first grade if he's already done with second grade math?" one of the school administrators brought up. "When he's in second grade, he can't very well get on the bus to go to the intermediate campus for third grade math every day." So there's a logistic, geographic issue there as well.

I think there are arguments for both sides, and I also don't think that what held true for me or Joe or other people will necessarily hold true for Cal, so it's really quite a difficult decision, as a parent, to make. Joe and I have gone back and forth whether we should involve Cal himself in this process, but the fact of it is that Cal doesn't like the idea of change, any kind of change, at all, and will stress about it incessantly, whereas once the decision has already been made and presented to him as a matter of course, he often will adapt to the situation seamlessly. (Par exemple: we wanted Cal to have an afterschool activity, and we figured he would like karate class. "Why do I have to do that?" he wailed, teary-eyed, when we told him. And every night for weeks, up until the start of karate class, "I'm not going to like that, why do you have to make me go there?" as though we were sending him to the salt mines. After his first class, he loved karate, and we just signed up for the second semester on his insistence.) Anyway, it sounds a little paternalistic (because, uh, we're his parents), but sometimes...sometimes Cal doesn't always make the best decisions for himself, rather the easier decision. Which, I guess, is as it should be.  He's six.  That's our job, and he leaves the hard stuff to us.

Anyway, we're going to have a meeting with his teacher on Thursday, and then we'll talk about it, and talk about it, and talk about it some more. And then, hopefully sometime before May, we'll figure it all out. Or not.


  1. that was the exact school situation we were in. i mentioned in my last comment that my daughter's teacher thought she should skip 3rd grade. the school system was K-2nd, and then 3-5 was at a separate school, so it would have been the PERFECT time to make that move. she'd had a combo first-second grade class, and had worked with the advanced 2nd graders during her 1st grade year, so she already knew those kids and it would have been less noticeable if she just jumped back in with them as a 4th grader. but then the principal at the new school was so down on it and gave us the run-around etc., and we just ended up doing 3rd grade (till aforementioned strike and the homeschooling year as a result).

    i'm assuming you're not mentioning gender of #3 intentionally? i've never seen such a clear ultrasound...things have come a long way since my baby was born 12 years ago. it's a bit unnerving how vividly you can see into the womb! so exciting. happy for you guys ♥

  2. Hahahaha I really can't stop laughing about the boys' response to the ultrasound photo. Best of luck with your decision with Cal, I'm 23 and in no place to give advice about kids and skipping grades. Whatever you decide to do, Cal sounds like a smart kid and I'm sure he'll adjust well.

  3. Anonymous12:29 PM

    Hi and congrats on number 3!!!
    I skipped a grade, or I should say I studied 8th grade curriculum at home while I was going in 7th grade at school. Took the 8th grade exam at the end of the year, scored better than all the 8th graders, and went straight to 9th grade. I can tell you one thing... one way or the other, there will be an adjustement. It is not so easy to be always the nerd of the class, and it is not easy to be the youngest of the class as well! Would it be possible to allow Cal to go to second grade for a few hours a day to see how he is doing with the other kids and the curriculum, and then decide? Just a suggestion...

  4. Anonymous6:17 PM

    The hardest part of baby #3? Going from "man to man" to "zone" defense. You're outnumbered! Congrats!

  5. medrecgal8:08 PM

    Love your title...congratulations on baby #3! And isn't there some kind of unwritten law that says you'll always find out you're pregnant again just after you give away all of your baby stuff? That seems to happen to a fair number of the people whose blogs I read.

  6. Congratulations!

    1. Anonymous10:43 PM

      You can just say "first trimester screening." (It is sometimes known as the Ultrascreen but that is the brand name.) The NT combined with the blood test for PAPP-A and free betaHCG is the first trimester screen. If you do a sequential screen then you are also doing a second trimester screen and inputting the values from the first trimester to complete a sequential screen. (You asked for help. :)) Yours in obstetric nerdiness.

      P.S. Congrats.

  7. actually, i think the picture is showing the fetus with knees folded, and then feet, something like this: Traditionally you can tell gender at 20 weeks on sono, but soemtimes it can be as early as 15 weeks on 3D ultrasound. But this sono looks like it was done at 12 weeks 4 days so it's a bit early for gender predicting.

    (Yes, Michelle, I couldn't resist. I'm post-call.)

    Congrats on the baby!!

  8. Kids say the darnedest things! Rocks...LOL! Congrats! If it's a girl , maybe u can name her Roxanne (Rox!)

  9. Its odd but my mom and all of her siblings had 3 kids...perhaps that is the best combination? I'm the youngest of 3 and its awesome having two older sisters to show me the way. Plus, I'm pretty sure third child is the favorite so your fetus is in for an awesome life! :D

    Also on the skipping grades front, my sisters and I were all skipped grades (Indian parents > dragon lady anyday) and it was largely because we were too bored and thus getting into too much trouble in school. Worked out well for us I think.

  10. Anonymous9:34 AM

    Congratulations on baby number 3! I was just wondering, any interest on doing a post about how you and Joe handle child care issues? I don't mean this in an annoying way. It's something that my husband and I have always dealt with as we started having kids when we were a medical resident and a law student, and we have had various bumps in the road. I am always interested in how other dual-working couples (with long hours) choose to manage child care and how their solutions work for them and their families. Congrats again!

  11. Nicole5:28 AM

    Congratulations on your pregnancy! I'm a very long-term reader of your blog and I've been inspired to say hi at this point because your descriptions of Cal often remind me of myself as a kid ("Nicole has social skills, she just chooses not to use them" - my first grade teacher). I'd never presume to advise you on how to make this decision but I will say that I really wish my parents had invested more effort in removing me from my comfort zone and had given me lots of opportunities to socialise (as you are clearly doing). That first grade teacher recommended that I not be moved up a year exactly because my social skills needed improvement, but my parents did little to help me develop them. I just didn't understand other kids, to the point that I was 19 before I realised that having a conversation should mean you show an interest in the person you're speaking to! I'm a resident now, I have many enriching relationships and I can pick up on cues from facial expressions and body language (!), but all those things I worked on as an adult. I wish you every luck in finding a happy middle ground for Cal.