I clearly have too much DadWagon on the brain, because last night–twelve hours before even starting to write this Tantrum–I dreamt that my wife and I were about to have a third child. It wasn’t exactly a nightmare, per se, but it was a sweaty, busy dream in which I think my main disposition was one of resignation.
I am not a dream-reader, nor a Freudian. It seems clear that if I was not happy about a third child in my subconscious life, then I wouldn’t be happy in my waking life either. Should I have another kid? No.
But who cares what I think about my own life? Much better to offer the kind of unsolicited advice that Theodore loves so much to the two remaining DadWagoners who have just one child. Matt, Christopher: have another fricking kid, OK? I know Matt is concerned about wiping two asses at once, but really it’s not a big deal. We even found that having a younger brother helped Dalia progress more quickly through the difficult developmental stages. As soon as there was a real infant in the house, she stopped acting like an infant (for the most part) herself. She literally began speaking the week we brought Nico home from the hospital. As if she thought she had to up her game in response to the new competition.
I also saw in Matt’s post (to sum it up: nothing against another kid, but now’s not the right time), the same kind of grumbly equivocation that kept my wife and I from starting a family until we’d been together for more than 10 years. It was never the right time, we didn’t have enough money, we had too much work to do. After we actually had the kid, we realized that our qualms were all needless: you have a kid and you make it work. Same with the second kid. It’s never the right time, until it’s too late. So my challenge to Matt and Christopher: Have a second kid soon. If it really does turn out to have been the wrong time, I’ll buy you a beer. That’s right, a free cup of beer. Domestic, though–no Leffe for you.
Here’s the other thing that’s true: I have no idea what I’m talking about. Just as Matt is thinking of spacing his kids four years apart because that’s how he and his siblings are spaced, I just wanted to have two kids, two years apart, because that’s how I grew up. And what I choose to remember from my childhood is that my older brother was (and remains) my best friend. That he was a father to me even at times, and I might well be dead if it weren’t for him. Literally: I accidentally cut my wrist open, halfway to my elbow, on a broken window when I was 12 or so, and he, all of 14, manned up, washed and wrapped the rather terrifying wound, made a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, mopped up the blood, and arranged to get me to the hospital. He’s a bit of a hero.
What I choose to forget about being one of two boys spaced two years apart is that when we weren’t saving each others lives, we were trying to kill each other. There was so much competition and seething rage that we at times had to live on different coasts just to cool off (a living arrangement made possible through the glories of divorce).
So the question of how many kids is answered according to the same logic that drives most of my parenting: it should either be done exactly the same as it was in my childhood, or absolutely different. On this question, I vote for same. Two kids, two years apart: ideal.