When one has four children, even when they are V*E*R*Y close together, a few changes take place in how one parents the first child in comparison to how one parents the fourth. Let's take a quick look at a couple examples to make this concept clear.
Augument #1 - Dreft
Dreft is the super soft, baby-sweet smelling laundry detergent with the pink cap. Just smelling the stuff makes me swoon for baby days.
Why would I long for baby days when I have a 4 month old? Oh yeah, that's because I never used a single drop of Dreft for poor George's laundry. He has gotten the full-throttle stain fighting Tide since day one. So apparently if I can't smell baby detergent all over this little guy, he might as well be a teenager to me. My olfactory sense is astounding!
Dave, on the other hand, had laundry that was lovingly and gently washed in Dreft everyday until he was one year old. Frank made it to about 6 months before I started throwing his laundry in with Dave's for convenience sake. For Stan I used the rest of a bottle that was left over from Frank's infancy before I got lazy with separating the boys' clothes. So, he got about 2 months of Dreft to comfort his sweet little bottom. And that brings us to George. Let's just say he needs thick skin for a few reasons in this family. Both literally and figuratively. With four boys' laundry to do, it all gets thrown together: the mud-caked with the poo stains, the popsicle stained shirt with the balled up mystery wet socks, the darks and the lights... it all goes in.
Argument #2 - TV
The role of TV has changed dramatically in our house. Dave never knew the secrets that dark box held. Jerry and I decided that we would follow American Academy of Pediatrics guideline and have no screen time until age 2 (or maybe it's 3? - I'm such a *great* doctor). That was what we thought at least until the day when Frank was an infant and I had both boys at home by myself after Jerry went back to work. Once there was no other person to entertain D as a 20 month old, he quickly sensed that the best time to exploit my divided attention was while I was trying to breastfeed Frank.
Gone were the days of breastfeeding the only child I was responsible for while gently rocking and reading a magazine. With a toddler and an infant the serenity was quickly replaced by me balacing Frank on my boob praying that I would let down immeadiately while trying to divert Dave's attention from absolutly every dangerous thing he could find in my house. Suddenly that kid became a mountain goat scaling countertops, he figured out how to pull off outlet covers and outsmart door knob protectors in the same day, and he would jump on the far end of the couch where I couldn't reach him without nearly smothering Frank in my engorged boob.
After a couple hours of mounting anarchy I turned to my new babysitter and quietly pleaded, "Please, I just need ten minutes to feed this poor baby. If this keeps up either Frank will starve or Dave will kill himself. I won't be able to live with myself either way." And with that I snapped on the colorful moving pictures and Dave was a goner from the moment I pressed Power. Dave's relationship with TV and screen time has been solid ever since. It is his favorite babysitter by far. Each kiddo has had successively earlier exposure to TV, and I can't honestly say that really bothers me. What does bother me is trying to protect a newborn head from flying Lego parts while breastfeeding and simultaneously breaking up a wrestling match. Breastfeeding is hard enough, at least TV mutes my boys into a drooling zombie existence for 15 minutes so I can feed the baby. Once it's off, the magic spell is broken and the chaos resumes at almost the exact place it left off.
Argument #3 - Chips
Dave (at 3 years old): Mommy, what are these? (pointing out chips at the grocery store because we'd never have such unhealthy foods in our house)
Me: Oh nothing, unhealthy food for people who don't know better. Here - have another veggie based, organic, ancient grain, super-food, antioxidant toddler cracker.
Frank (at 2 years old): Mommy, what are these? (Holding up a bag of chips found in my cupboard "not-so-much-hiding spot")
Me: They're yucky. Would you like some Goldfish Crackers?
Stan (at 1.5 years old): I want this! I want this! I want this! (Screaming at me pointing out the chips on his brothers' plates)
Me: If I give you chips will you stop screaming?!?
George (at 4 months old - so yesterday, because that's how old he is): ... ... ... ...
(he doesn't say much, he was just looking at me while he was sucking his toes, but I sense he was asking me to crush up the chips on the table and mix it with some breastmilk for his first taste of solids)
Conclusion - Maybe my parenting has gotten a liiiiittle lax in the last six years. Ah well, they're all still alive and seem to be thriving in their Tide laundered clothes and their near constant diet of chips and TV. Just kidding, let's not forget about the nutella sandwiches too.