Being mother to a nearly-three year old can be a pretty frustrating job at times, especially if you also have an older child. The temptation is to assume that your younger child is just as emotionally and mentally advanced as their older sibling.
For example, my mother tells this great story of how, when I was tiny and playing up in the supermarket she found herself barking "For heaven's sake Potty! You're behaving like a two year old!" at me. And then stopped herself, as she remembered that actually, I was. Two years old.
I try to keep that in mind on the rare occasions (ha!) when I'm shocked at my younger son doing two year old stuff. Spilling drinks. Messing things up. Throwing tantrums. You know, all the things that sound perfectly normal child behaviour whilst it isn't actually happening to you. But whilst he isn't as grown up as his brother in many ways, in others he's more than a match for his parents. New parents, be warned. Don't try the same tactics on your second child as those that worked on your first. Big mistake.
This evening at the dinner table, Husband and I were trying to encourage our younger son to eat his dinner by himself. Some mothers would no doubt be shocked to encounter a child who prefers to have his food spooned into his mouth at the great age of 2 years 9 months. Others simply roll their eyes and mutter 'been there, done that, am wearing the filthy t-shirt'. I'm one of the latter.
Don't get me wrong, Boy #2 can feed himself. If he's hungry enough, or if he likes it enough, or if it's finger food, no problem. Quite often though, he just can't... be.... bothered. And whilst I would like to be of the 'if you don't feed yourself, you don't eat' school of mothering, I don't have the time, the inclination or frankly the hardness of heart to carry that through. So, around 20% of the time, there I am, playing mother hen to a baby bird.
This evening, after fruitlessly trying to encourage him to eat solo, Husband decided to try some reverse psychology on our little angel. It worked - and still works - on his older brother, so why not?
Husband: "Actually, don't do it Boy #2. I don't think Boy #2 can feed himself, do you Mama?"
Me (it's risky, but let's try it): "No, you're probably right. I don't think he can either."
Boy #1 (catching on fast, as ever): "And neither do I."
Boy #2 looked around the table in amazement. What were we all saying? Could he hear us correctly? He reached for his spoon. Grinned. And handed it to me. "No. Can't. You. Do. It. Mama."