When our first two children were babies,
We sat propped up against the baby monitor,
and listened to their every breath.
We photographed each mini milestone,
and filled out baby books in great detail.
Every day we ensured they were,
immaculately turned out,
Hair brushed, teeth cleaned
and clothes chosen with care.
We bought organic food,
and sterilized everything,
until they were a year old.
We sat down and made jigsaws with them,
and “helped” them to
put square and round pegs,
into the correct holes.
They went to school,
with the healthiest of lunches,
and sweet treats at home were well regulated.
It came to bedtime,
7pm when they were tiny,
and then 8pm and 8.30pm as they got older.
Always on time,
bedtime story read,
and “Good night!”
Then we had a third child,
standards began to slip!
We would hear her cry on the monitor,
but turn it off,
giving her a few minutes,
in the hope she would settle.
We still took some photographs,
but only once a month,
and usually noticed how,
our darling baby number three,
always seemed a bit unkept!
Hair sticking out,
and socks missing.
Things fell on the floor,
and were returned to her mouth,
Her food rarely came from jars,
and if it did it was the cheapest!
She sat in the playroom,
and watched the others play.
They sat and did the square peg toys,
and helped her do the jigsaws.
Bedtime was still on time,
Thank God the day was over.
Then came number four!
Who is that child?
We only have a handful of photos,
documenting her existence.
We do know her name,
but usually call her by her sisters names.
By the time she was born,
We had lost the baby monitor,
and had no room for a sterilizer.
She ate all sorts of forbidden foods,
at very inappropriate ages.
Sometimes we even “forgot”,
that she was due a feed,
but luckily she cried,
or banged on the appropriate cupboard!
She was dressed by her siblings,
in what they liked.
And on more than one occasion,
we arrived to do the grocery shopping,
only to discover we had forgotten
to put shoes on her.
By the time she was three,
we had no jigsaws left,
well none with all the pieces.
She spent all her time,
in the company of her older siblings.
Usually brilliantly acting,
as the “baby in their game”.
She is eleven years old now,
and many nights we look at her,
and say in astonishment,
“Are you not in bed yet?”.
As we have forgotten to send her.
it is clear to me,
that our older three children
were reared to a high standard.
We had many rows,
ensuring they stuck by our rules,
and lived up to these standards.
As we look at them now,
we take the credit for them,
turning out so well.
Routine and discipline worked.
As for our youngest child.
It is clear to see,
we have greatly slipped in our parenting standards!
She lives a carefree,
stress free life,
spending most days,
doing what she wants,
when she wants.
If I were to be honest here,
I would have to say,
this happy go lucky,
charming, loving child
has reared herself,
with very little input from us.
And guess what…
She has done a fantastic job!
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