Tag Archives: Parenting

Children Who Exist and Children Who Don’t

4 Jun

A friend and I were talking recently about fatherhood. He mentioned that, before he had children, he’d always had a feeling that there was a part of himself that would be incomplete if he missed out on it. He knew it had to be part of his life, part of his journey.

I told him I couldn’t relate to that at all.

In fact, my pre-children mindset was just the opposite. I felt a profound burden to not have children, to not bring more people into this. I felt that the Earth has been asking us for the last several generations to slow down, chill out, give her a break with all the kids. We need to catch our breath with the destruction of the environment. We need to get a handle on racism and poverty. We’ve had our foot on the gas so long that we’ve failed to realize the engine isn’t working anymore and we’re flooding it. 

MORE KIDS MORE KIDS MORE KIDS.

My friend, like me, is a foster parent. He has biological children of his own, but also made the decision with his wife to foster-to-adopt. “I feel you,” he said. “It makes sense. Children in the system, that’s where the need is. Loving and taking care of who’s already here.”

“That’s my thing,” I said. “I want to contribute to the healing and the building. I had three children that were biologically mine and they died the day they were born. They existed and I loved them and I still love them. But they were a surprise. And I couldn’t help it, I wondered if they would wind up hurting the world more than helping.”

Then he dropped the bomb: “I love [adopted child] as much as [biological children]. I didn’t think that was possible, but it is. If I’d known that, I wonder if I’d have made the choice to have biological children at all.”

I’m writing this in 2020, on the ninth birthday of Rudyard, Desmond and Oscar Bear. These annual entries have become letters to the future, a check-in to be rediscovered later.  Here’s what’s happening as of this moment, Star Wars opening crawl-style:

Turmoil! The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged, terrorized, quarantined and suffocated the global community.

In America, George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, was killed at the hands of panicked and angry police officers, sparking protests, riots and unrest, further polarizing a nation at war with itself.

All of this is presided over by a corrupt President who, most recently, teargassed peaceful protesters to clear a path for a photo op of him holding a bible in front of a church….

Maybe these are the ashes, the fertilizer that will one day accommodate the seeds of new life and new hope. Maybe this is a ramping-up to ultimate destruction. Too soon to tell.

But before any children of my own existed, this is the world I didn’t want to bring them into. I didn’t want to burden them with it, or it with them. Back when my children were a possibility, a concept that I could say “no” to, saying “no” made the most sense to me.

But sometimes there are surprises. And sometimes those surprises turn out to be spontaneous triplet boys. And when the switch happens, when children transition from ideas to flesh and blood, the whole thing changes. “Should they exist?” Asked and answered. 

Yes, they should.

I still believe in Heaven for Beginners, which means I believe that the Bear Boys are looking at all of this with perfect clarity and understanding and love. Love for me and my wife and our three foster children. Love for George Floyd. And Derek Chauvin. And Donald Trump. And everyone everywhere for all time always.

And maybe they’ve been spared all of this. Maybe it’s a mercy. Maybe there’s some sort of cosmic right-ness to birthday candles on our mantle rather than birthday candles on three cakes today. Fuck that, but maybe.

But we’re having the conversations in our home that we would’ve had with our boys, had they made it. And not to get too creepy, but I sometimes sort of feel my boys guiding us through it. Look, I know, go ahead and eye-roll, but no kidding around: I want their perfect perspective on Coronavirus and privilege and BLM and the environment and every so often I wonder if they’re helping to give me a glimpse of what’s good and true. Maybe, in my better moments, I get to be their voice.

I’m glad they existed. I’m glad they weren’t an idea I said No to. I’m glad they made the jump from conceptual to literal and are teaching my wife and I how to best love the three flesh-and-blood children in our home, right here and now.

But more than any of that, today, right now, I wish they’d lived.

An Actual Tip

4 Jun

It’s not inconceivable that part of the modest traffic that this blog manages to attract are new and expectant triplet parents. Maybe, like me years ago, you’re trawling the internet, looking for wisdom and advice about how to handle the task of having and raising three individuals at the same time. Well, today I’m going to try something I haven’t attempted in an awful long while: an actual tip, as it were, on triplets.

But since this is TipsOnTriplets and nothing’s easy-breezy, before I get to the advice, I’ll start with a story. I like to call it My Greatest Moment As A Triplet Parent.

Triplet pregnancies are fraught enough, but Carey’s had the added peril of Lupus, a condition she’s lived with since college. Every moment of our boys’ gestation would need close monitoring, which is what took us to Long Beach’s Magella Medical Group, specialists in high-risk pregnancies.

As you might expect, I had a jones to document everything with an eye toward eventually cutting together a highlight video of the pregnancy and eventual birth of the boys. I was on the lookout for odd moments, hopeful moments, important moments… anything that could communicate the nervous frenzy of the time, assuming we’d one day appreciate the look back.

So we arrived at Magella Medical Group for our initial consult and tests, a situation ripe for the video reel. And since the idea of producing a video had only occurred to me a few days prior, this was going to be one of the very first moments of the eventual edited piece. So I got to work grabbing b-roll of the building, the sign, the elevator ride up to the office. I imagined all of this cut together montage-style atop a heart-swelling music bed.

magella-sign

elevator

We entered and I was getting footage of everything, no matter how mundane. Carey signing in. Carey’s blood pressure being taken. No moment too small.

sign-in

We entered an exam room and an office supervisor told us to have a seat. I pulled out my phone to grab a shot or two of Carey getting situated. The office supervisor said, “Just so you know, we unfortunately can’t allow any video taken here in the office.”

I said, “What do you mean?”

“Well, it’s one of our rules. I could explain all of the liabilities behind it, but suffice it to say it’s our policy here.”

“What about photos?”

She hesitated. “Photos are ok, maybe just a couple. It’s video we can’t allow. It looked like you were about to record with your phone, so I have to mention it.”

I thought about it for maybe two seconds. It made sense: an office specializing in high-risk pregnancies meant they’d likely seen quite a few pregnancies go badly. Failed pregnancies = angry parents = looking for someone to blame = “evidence” gathering, however legit, however spurious = legal battles = headaches the Magella Medical Group would just as soon avoid. I should also point out that the good people at Magella are as smart and conscientious as they come. It’s a wonderful place and we were lucky to be there. “I get it,” I said.

And that’s when My Greatest Moment As A Triplet Parent happened:

I lied.

“No problem, I won’t take any video. Maybe just a couple of photos.”

As reasonable as the Magella Medical Group’s policy on video capture was, it was a rule I just wasn’t going to follow. Sure, I thought, I could respect the wishes of the office. It’s their space, they get to decide what’s allowed. On the other hand, I pictured myself a decade in the future, me and three 9-year-olds huddled around a laptop. I would play the video their dad shot when they were still in the womb, showing how excited their parents were to meet them, how committed we were to taking every precaution to keep them safe and healthy.

Or I could tell them the story of why we didn’t have any video because we followed a lame f&%#ing liabilities rule.

The office manager left the room and I started shooting. And that’s how the rest of the morning went. I caught some great moments: The doctor telling us how the placentas work. Our hearing their heartbeats for the first time. Poring over ultrasound prints, relating to the camera what we’d just found out about our then-healthy three.

doctor

ultrasound

And stern looks from the staff. “Nope, just lining up a great photo moment,” I’d tell them, video rolling.

Of course, the video I really wanted to make was never made. But I did use the Magella footage in the memorial video I cut together after the boys passed. And you know? It’s not only my favorite moment in the whole memorial video, it’s footage I wouldn’t trade for all the riches in the whole wide world. While it was the postmortem footage of the boys (4:40) that caught the interest of The Daily Beast, BBC World Update and Good Morning America, it’s the Magella material (1:01) that makes my heart the happiest. Because there it is, in full-color, living, breathing, 24 fps shaky glory: two expectant parents who love their children more than anything, full to the eyeballs with excited, terrified, nervous anticipation. That’s the real stuff. That’s where life is.


Ok, that was quite a wind-up to get to the point of this post and the reason we’re all here: a Tip on Triplets. So here it is.

As a triplet parent, nature has already decided to chuck your special ideas about the traditional way of doing things right out the window. You have to wing it, you have to make it up as you go along. And the world is loaded with rules and philosophies about how you’re supposed to handle these three little aberrations.

These triplet children of yours are a messy, imperfect miracle. Listen to what the critics and the experts have to say. Take it in. Consider carefully. But keep in mind:

These children are yours. You make the rules.

That’s really it. You get to decide. If you need to go rogue, man, go rogue. This isn’t twin parenting and lord knows it sure as hell isn’t singleton parenting. It’s a whole other thing that demands reserves that John and Jane Q. Public don’t fully understand.

If you need to shoot the video, god’s sake, SHOOT THE VIDEO.

Go nuts. It’s up to you. The status quo was miles back, do your own thing.

That’s all.

(But, you know, within reason. Vaccinate your kids. I mean what are you, a bunch of toothless hill people?)

Daniel

24 May

Let me tell you about Daniel (poor bastard).

You’ll recall last Monday’s Baby Care class.  Well, last night was Becoming Parents, once again hosted by Susan (etc.), chock full of helpful information.  (What does a baby look like in the first few days?  What changes and how fast?  Why is he crying/laughing/ignoring you?)

A quick sketch of Daniel. Probably not a very good likeness, but the best I could do from memory.

During an informal “introduce yourself to your neighbor” moment toward the beginning, we met Daniel and his wife, whose little girl is due in early July.  Nice folks.  They offered the appropriate congratulations/sympathies when we told them about the triplets.

Class began and it became immediately clear that Daniel (poor bastard) is a fidgety sort of guy, kind of uncomfortable in his own skin.  At least a few times over the course of the evening, he’d stand up and pace to the back of the room, wait a minute or two, then return to his seat.  After awhile, I began wondering if it was some sort of medical issue or tic.

Susan is good about asking for questions and our class asked a lot of them.  Mostly, it was a good group.  This is Long Beach, so the whole gamut was represented: the cultured and educated, the shell-shocked teens, the blue collar crowd, the granola hipsters, whites, blacks, hispanics, asians and anyone else you can think of.  A lot of hands were going up and Susan was making time for everyone.

Including Daniel: “I have a question.  How, um, involved does the father need to be with the late-night stuff?”

“How ‘involved’?”

“Yeah, I mean, if they usually just need to be fed or something, the mom can probably take care of that, right?”

Chuckles.  Daniel’s wife smiled, winked at us and mouthed: “He’s trying to get out of it.”  Susan explained that, well, babies cry in the night for all sorts of reasons other than feeding, so you’ll probably need to take your share of night shifts.

The class continued.  Susan outlined the importance of getting help if you need it, but not so much visitor activity that the baby becomes over-stimulated and, consequently, awake at all hours.  “Friends, in-laws, people from church… don’t be shy about asking and be specific,” she said and nodded to me and Carey, “particularly if you’ve got multiples on the way, like our triplet mom and dad over here.”

Daniel raised his hand: “Actually, the grandma is going to come stay with us for awhile to get started.  Between her and my wife, they’ve probably got the late-night thing covered, right?  I mean, unless you’re saying that the middle of the night is an important bonding time with fathers or something…”

No smiles and winks from Daniel’s wife this time around.  Susan fielded it.  “Well, in this case, it’s probably more important to stay bonded with your wife.”

More laughter at Daniel’s expense.  Susan moved things along.

Over the course of the next couple of hours, Daniel raised his hand a few more times, always with questions that began with “Is it really necessary for me to” and “Do dads typically” and, as Susan says, et cetera.

Eventually, we stopped for a quick break.  Carey and I took the opportunity to wolf down chips and sandwiches she’d brought with her and, as we did, we noticed a minor queue forming at Susan’s podium.  She was answering specific concerns people had about their individual situations.  At the front of the line, no surprise, there was Daniel (poor bastard).  It was hard to make out what he was saying, but we heard a few keywords and phrases:

“…just saying, if grandma’s there, it’s probably okay for me to sleep as long as…”

His wife was looking optimistic, but a little defeated.  I turned to Carey: “dude’s mission in life is to get out of s#%&.”

Carey said, “shh.  He can probably hear you.”

Of all the tidbits I took from Becoming Parents… the advice on feeding and sleeping and crying, the discussions on your mental health and your partner’s, the instructions about bedding and medicine and the proper time to use a pacifier and the benefits of a sling versus a Bjorn… I think I might’ve learned the most from Daniel.

And I don’t know the guy.  Maybe he has a really specific situation and he needs every possible hour he can get his hands on in order to make the rent.  Maybe he’ll wind up being the best dad in the room.  Could happen.  But, judging by my brief interaction with him, he doesn’t seem to be off to a ripping start.

I pray god I’m not too tempted to be the dad who’s trying to get by on as little as possible.  Who assumes, eh, the wife’s on top of things, I can skate.  And anyway, those little sleepless moments of torture might even turn out to be one of the most important parts of Dad Boot Camp.  (Hah.  Check back in with me in September.)

Either way, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be a Daniel, desperate to hang onto the safety and sanity of his old life.  Dodging responsibility, handing everything off to Mom.  Sleeping in, missing all the good stuff.

Because ugh.

(Poor bastard.)

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera

17 May

Last night we attended a so-cheap-it-was-practically-free class offered by Long Beach Memorial, the hospital where we’ll introduce the gnomes to daylight.  It was a Basics Of Not Killing Your Children kind of thing.  I think it was just called Baby Care, taught by a woman named Susan.

The Baby Care class. And Susan.

Susan doesn’t want your baby to drown in the bathtub.  She also doesn’t want your baby to electrocute itself with a pair of scissors.  She doesn’t want your baby to crack its head open on the bathroom floor, lose limbs to kitchen utensils, burn alive in your car, suffocate on its own snot, choke on toilet water, blind itself with cat litter, die from an infection inspired by a bacteria-infested nasal aspirator or decapitate itself with a passenger-side airbag.

Susan didn’t really lay out any odds, but after hearing her spiel, I put our children’s chances of survival somewhere in the neighborhood of 18%.

(That said, it’s a good thing we’re having three.  One of them may make it all the way to preschool.)

She was very specific, Susan was, about every possible horror that could befall your baby.  But in her quest to really scare the Jesus out of you, she left things slightly open ended at the close of each warning.  “Et cetera,” she’d say.  “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.”

“Now, when you wash the baby’s clothes, make sure to use detergents with no inks, dyes or perfumes.  Why?  Baby skin is sensitive, guys, and you don’t want your baby looking like he’s just been cooked in a Burger King broiler.  Dyes and perfumes lead to irritation, rashes, et cetera.  But you’ll find yourself doing laundry, on average, every other day.  Rule of thumb: dress your kids for weather like you’d dress yourself, plus one layer.  Little babies don’t have adult immune systems and it’s easy for them to get pneumonia, infections and other complications resulting from hypothermia, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.”

It was all those Et Ceteras that really worked my nerves.

We’ve all seen the Yadda Yadda episode of Seinfeld.  George wonders, “she wouldn’t Yadda Yadda sex, would she?”

And I’m wondering, “she wouldn’t Et Cetera, I don’t know, Exploding Baby Syndrome, would she?”

A page from my notes.

At one point, I counted six consecutive Et Ceteras.

Not that it took loads of tea leaf reading to predict this one, but Carey was barely holding it together by the end of this class.  3 solid hours of listing potential baby killers, each one more gruesome than the last, I mean come on.  Any expectant mom would be a mess.  And, as Susan kept reminding us, et cetera, our only hope of protecting your Precious Package is CONSTANT VIGILANCE.

And whoops!  We’re having three.

Listen, the class was helpful, it really was.  Terrifying, but filled with good info nonetheless.  Next Monday night, we’re going back again for, I don’t know, Advanced Parenting or something.  Also taught by Susan.

The following week: Breast Feeding.  Which, I’m told, is mandatory for dads for some reason.

Well, whatever.  It’s all good.  We knew the job was dangerous when we took it (even though we were, technically, kinda drafted).

Oh, and before I forget: remember to turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees.  Otherwise you’ll find yourself in an emergency room with a scalded baby on your hands.  Which could easily lead to further complications.

And so on and so forth.

Moms

8 May

The Classic

Go ahead and ask my mom, she’ll tell you: I was a strange child.

She’ll swear I wasn’t so bad, but don’t believe it.  At the tender age of 20, she had a brand spanking new baby boy and a heart full of straight-outta-the-70s enthusiasm.  Of all the possibilities she’d tried her best to prepare herself for, she likely didn’t know what to make of what she got: a self-conscious, insecure crybaby son who made a regular habit of forsaking his baseball mitt for boxes of colored pencils and traded BMX biking for supporting roles in school plays and talent shows.

There’s a lot to appreciate about my mom and I can’t begin to get into all of it now, but the thing I’ve been thinking about the most lately was something that I don’t imagine my mother recognized about herself until she was well into parenting.  Maybe it was there all along, waiting to come out, or maybe it took the refining fires of three children in three years to flip the switch, but Mom is a truly creative soul.

Well, you’d have to be, if you’re trying to do right by a basket case like me.  Standard Operating Procedure wasn’t going to get the job done; Mom had to improvise.  Sure, she became my cheerleader and biggest fan, but more importantly, she cultivated a weirdness in her already weird son.

I have to think there was a temptation to reign things in from time to time, to nudge me in the direction that would get me the most friends and her the smoothest parent-teacher conferences.  But she didn’t do that.  It’s almost as if she only knew how to see the very best version of me, the very best possible outcome for my strange little life… and dedicated herself to clearing the path for me to crash and spin my way toward it.

Anyway, you should see this lady in action, I mean it.  To this day, she has an offbeat, creative approach to every decision, every relationship.  Somehow, she’s the best at everything.  And, at the top of her game, she moves on to something new.  It really is astonishing.

As adults, my sisters and I phone each other up and shrug, saying things like, “so, Mom decided she’s going to ride motorcycles now.”  “Mom sent me a book of Buddhist poetry, apparently she’s been reading a lot of it.”  “Mom finished her nursing degree and is getting nervous about what to say in her Valedictory speech to the other graduates.”  “Ohio.com sent me an email the other day, asking for a bio on Mom.  I guess she’s been nominated by the Ohio Women’s History Project as Woman of the Year.”

No, I’m not kidding.

Just like Mom, I get to parent three children of my own very soon and of course I’m scared.  But I have the unique privilege of learning from the best.

Adversity?  Hah.  Mom could tell you stories.  But she’ll be the first to let you know: you’ll be fine.  Wing it.  Improvise.  Work hard.  Listen.

Be creative.

I know you know this, Mom, but I’m about to have a trio of eager boys on my hands and I have no idea what I’m doing.  But, then, I have every advantage and you to thank for it.

The New Model

There was a period of time where it was looking like Carey wasn’t going to get the chance to be a mother.  It’s safe to blame me, but the truth is, my apprehensions about parenting aside, it always bummed me out a little bit.

Fact is, I always knew she was born to be a mom.

You know those activist types that are willing to die for their cause?  They stand in the picket lines, screaming in your face, spitting bile and righteous indignation?  They know they’re right and you’re wrong because MEAT IS MURDER, MAN!  ABORTION STOPS A BEATING HEART!  IT’S ADAM AND EVE, NOT ADAM AND STEVE!  LISTEN UP, ASSHOLE!

Now picture the exact opposite of that.

That’s my wife.

Oh, trust me, she’s an activist through and through.  You’ll see her on the picket line and, make no mistake, she’ll tell you what she believes.  But she’ll probably whisper.  And she’ll smile apologetically.  And she’ll ask you what you think.

And she’ll listen.

For all her conviction and her lifestyle decisions, she’s, at heart, a peaceful person.  Inside, she might be praying you’ll reconsider your position on a couple of things, particularly if your position hurts others.  But when you get to the bottom of it, she wants to know you.  She sees the thing that most people miss: change doesn’t start with clever slogans or policy changes or media coverage.

It starts with relationships.

Like Mom, Carey is also a creative soul. When we first met, she surprised me with poetry and, in one way or another, she’s continued ever since.

She paints.  And she designs spaces.  She plays the saxophone and she’s good.  She writes and she expresses herself better than most anyone I know.

It would be hard to find my mother’s equal when it comes to mothering.  And I can’t say I was really even looking for it.  But the qualities that were the most important to me about my mother… her creativity, her conviction, her passion and her willingness to cultivate something in her children that goes beyond the norm…

If there’s anyone who I think has the potential to stand with my mom in the Great Moms Hall of Fame, it’s my wife.

Care, we were trying for none and got three.  Somebody seems to think we should be doing this.

When we first found out, we cried a whole lot and you said, “can’t we just do one single thing like normal people?”  I suppose, at this point, we both know the answer.

And frankly, you’re going to be great.  Let’s agree to never let the world infect our three little lunatics with the Normal Virus.

I can’t wait to watch you do your thing.

“Asinine”

21 Apr

I was over at Al’s blog yesterday, where he’d provided a link to this video.  I watched most of it:

If you’re not able to make it through, don’t sweat it.  To save you the suspense, it culminates with a bunch of kids in faux hip-hop gear, wiggling around like they’re handicapped.  It’s, y’know, it’s cute or whatever.  I suppose they had fun making it.  Or, anyway, the kids did.

Carey and I have begun preemptive discussions about the sorts of material we do and don’t feel comfortable about in terms of the gnomes’ entertainment requirements.  As much as we want to avoid turning into a couple of squares, we’re more or less in agreement that TV really bites the big one, particularly in terms of what’s good for kids to watch.  And I’m not talking about Nurse Jackie or Private Practice or whatever people are DVRing these days… and I’m really not even talking about Tooty Ta either (at least that’s getting kids off the carpet and exercising.  Sort of).  But, rather, the Clockwork Orange barrage of rapid-cut colors and fevered images that seems to be in vogue for pre-school aged children.  The Yo Gabba Gabba, A.D.D.-inspired madness missiles that seem to be immediately addictive to every kid under 6.

Seriously, is there any hope for a child’s ability to calm down and focus if they’re being injected with visual Red Bull hours a day, every day?  Are the findings of this Baby Einstein study all that surprising?

Backing up a little, I realize I know far less about any of these matters than just about anyone reading this. I’m sure every other parent-to-be in the universe is just as idealistic as Carey and I are. Nobody plans on plopping their kids in front of TV for hours on end, but, I get it, life happens.

When I was a kid, You Can’t Do That On Television was the thing.  YouTube is a helpful reminder that the show was an inane mess, but, as an 8-year-old, I was mesmerized.  The honeymoon didn’t last, though.  Mom and Dad were not digging it and eventually told me it was BANNED from the Bear household.

I remember throwing a tantrum: “Why?? There’s no guns or fighting!  There’s no swearing!  No sex or adult situations!  It’s a show for kids, starring kids!  The most risque material in the whole program are booger references!  WHAT’S THE PROBLEM??”

Dad’s response, I’ll never forget:

“It’s asinine.”

And that was that.  For all I knew, it was a made-up word.  My 8-year-old brain pictured some non-violent, non-sexy, insidious influence that was so sneakily corrosive, it was like ACID-TIMES-NINE. It was ACID-NINE.

Carey’s parents were even more arbitrary. In her home, daytime soaps were ok for kids, but Diff’rent Strokes and Growing Pains were too “inappropriate”. She figured out quickly that “inappropriate” was parental code for “we’d rather watch something else”.

But, you know, maybe that’s all parents do anyhow. Really, what determines what’s ok for kids to watch other than their parents’ admittedly arbitrary sensibilities? What’s the gold standard?

Growing up in the Christian bubble, I heard the answer all the time and I knew kids whose parents even framed it and hung it above the TV. Phillipians 4:8:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Clears that right up. I guess.

Ultimately, it’s up to my wife and I and I’m sure it’s going to come down to a case-by-case.  I’ve never been in charge of someone else’s life before and I guess it’ll take a little getting used to.

So, what do you think?  If you have kids, what’s in and what’s out?  Where’s the line?  If you’re having kids in the future, what’s the plan?

Am I missing something important?  Is an attempt to control the viewing habits of children extremely stupid or foolish (i.e. ACID-NINE)?

The Great Birth Order Experiment [Updated]

15 Apr

We’ve been kicking around an idea since we found out we’re having triplets.  Let me hit you with it and, please, give me your honest opinion.

Growing up, my sister’s closest school friend was a girl named Dana.  I don’t remember a whole lot about her, other than the fact that she was kind of a goofball.  Very sweet and quirky.  Also, Dana was a twin.

I don’t remember her twin brother’s name, but I do remember Dana thinking he was a little obnoxious.  She’d roll her eyes and shake her head and say, “he acts like that because he’s older.”

“But aren’t you twins?  Isn’t he older by, like, 5 minutes?”

“Yeah,” she’d say, “but he thinks it’s more like 5 years.” * [Update below.]

I’m the oldest of 3 and my wife’s the youngest of 3.  We’ve discussed it over the years and wondered: what role does our birth order play in who we are?  Would I have been attracted to Carey if I’d been a middle child or a youngest?  Would I have chosen the same career?  Would I have the same adult relationship with my sisters if they’d been older than me?

Clearly, my poor little sisters would’ve had to endure far less torture at my hands if we’d all been born at the same time.  Then again, would they?  Do groups of human beings need an Alpha?  All things being equal, are all things equal?

So, our experiment: what if my wife and I keep the order in which our 3 are introduced to the world between us?

I’m not saying never tell them.  But what if we wait until they’re 16 or 18 or well-established in their life patterns?  What would happen if these three human beings really are treated as equals?  Is it possible?


It would probably take a decent amount of pre-planned subterfuge to pull it off, but we might be able to do it if we’re committed.  We’d have to hide a document or two, maybe fudge a few details if we have a particularly eventful birth (and, lets’ face it, we will).

The only thing I’m not sure about: if Birth Order Knowledge is taken from children, is that a frustrating or damaging to them?  Will they hate us for it? We’re still on the fence about it.

I don’t know.  What do you think?

* [Update]

The great thing about keeping a blog is you get to hear from people you’d never get to otherwise.  Turns out Dana Lawes (above mentioned twin from my and my sister’s childhood) discovered her name here and decided to drop a note.  Who knew!  She says:

My twin’s name is Drew (or actually Andrew). And to be honest, I was the older twin by 3 minutes. It’s funny because I always was so proud of the fact that I was older since Drew was undeniably the smarter one and taller one. So I had the “older” card. Honestly, it was a great trait to have growing up but it really doesn’t matter now – or since I was probably 12.  I think birth order is more important for non-multiples. But that’s just my opinion.

Don’t feel like you have to update your blog with the correction (not like you would but just saying).  At least your memory of me wasn’t that I was the obnoxious girl that loved being older! And you need to be ready for people asking if your triplets are identical (even if you have 2 boys/1 girl). About 80% of people that know that I have a twin brother ask if we are identical. I mean really.

Mea culpa, Dana.  Memory, she’s fickle.  Thanks for writing, though, and for the thoughts on birth order.

(And, sister, you’d better believe I’m updating with a correction.  We’re all about integrity here at T.O.T. Central.)

Baby People

11 Apr

Come on, you’ve seen her.

Every family reunion, she has somebody’s baby on her lap.  She corners pregnant women at the grocery store and asks them how far along they are and if they’ve picked out names yet. She loves talking to anyone 24 months or younger and when she does, she dwops her Rs because evewyfing is so fweaking pwecious.

Who's precious? Hm? Who's a precious sweetie? Who's a sweetie-peetie punkin berry? Is it you? IS IT YOU?

She isn’t necessarily an extrovert, but when she sees a baby, she just can’t help it.  She goes into a weird, maternal crack fit and her fix is baby smell.  She needs to hold babies. She lives in their world, man; she thinks their thoughts.

She’s a Baby Person.

And if you think she’s going to let a baby slip under her radar?  Dude, you’re out of your mind.

Don’t misunderstand me, by the way.  This isn’t a complaint.  We need our Baby People.  They remind us of a time when the world wasn’t so bleak and cynical.  Eventually, babies turn into brooding, tortured teens and we should probably thank the Baby People for stopping it from happening even earlier in life.  We should cherish them for who they are, for doing what they do.

Since discovering our newfound triplet fortune, we’ve become acquainted with a few Baby People.  We’ve found they’re often incognito, waiting to pounce, like undercover FBI.  Fact is, they’re everywhere.  You know plenty of them.

My wife and I, on the other hand?  Well, there’s no other way to say it: we’re not Baby People.

So, listen, you're looking great. I trust all your needs are being met and things are going well for you. If not, seriously, give me a shout. We'll get together or something.

Now, we don’t hate babies; we don’t even dislike them.  We just can’t relate.  We’re happy to smile at your baby and congratulate you on such attractive offspring.  We say things like “aww” and “look how sweet”.  We’ll shake your hand and pat the little nipper’s head and there’s a really good chance that, later on, we’ll remark to each other, “wasn’t that a cute baby?”  But we probably won’t grab your baby out of your hands without an invitation.  We won’t do that thing where we pull up your baby’s shirt and blow mouth farts into his belly.  Nothing personal, we’re just not in the Baby Business.  That’s the exclusive province of the Baby People.

And soon we’ll have triplets.

My wife is a little panicked.  If you’ve never met her, you’ll need to take my word for it: she really is an interesting, stylish lady.  She works at a high-end salon and, in her spare time, she cooks vegan and campaigns on behalf of the environment and animal rights.  She’s a fan of all things mod.  She’s colorful, quirky, offbeat and multi-layered.  But she’s worried all that is slipping away.  She’s going to have to be The Lady With The Triplets, end of story.

Me, I don’t know.  I’m sure healthy, highly functional human beings can be raised by two parents who aren’t necessarily Baby People.  And fact is, we’re going to need the help of lots of Baby People to get through these initial months.  We don’t know what we’re doing.  Hearing from other triplet parents has helped enormously, but it certainly hasn’t begun to transform us into a couple who emails pictures of baby outfits to each other with the subject “OMG CUTEST EVER”.

Baby People, are you born or are you made?  Can a non-BP transform into a BP?  Is it inevitable?  Can we hang onto our identities as arty intellectuals or are we destined to be the human zoo?

Help us, Baby People!  Teach us!

KEEP BEING BABY PEOPLE SO WE DON’T HAVE TO!