Malcolm is a good kid.
A really good kid.
He has an agreeable attitude and a laid-back personality.
He's a good eater.
He can occupy himself with books and toys.
He's a great sleeper and partakes in his naps and bedtime quite willingly (and on a pretty consistent schedule).
He follows directions (most of the time).
Yes, he is a wonderful little boy ... Yet I refuse to believe that all of these attributes are merely genetics in action.
A random shuffling of the dice ...
A lucky mingling of a specific sperm and egg ...
As the arrival of Baby #2 is made known to family and friends, the same general message keeps rearing its head:
"You lucked out with your firstborn ... Be prepared for this next kid to be a holy terror!"
But is it all really just the luck of the draw?
I don't think so.
I think that parenting (or "nurture" if you're thinking of the age-old debate) also plays a major role in how a child eventually behaves ... Parents are often blamed when things go wrong with their kids ... So why shouldn't I get some of the credit when my kid is so, so right?
From the very beginning, I was diligent to make sure the Malcolm had a predictable routine to govern his days (and nights). Sure, as a baby, this "routine" was very fluid and mainly consisted of eating, sleeping, and playing at similar times each day ... But, as time went on, the routine remained an important part our day-to-day lives, often signalling when certain activities would end and others would begin.
I remember, when Malcolm was about four months old, mapping out (in a notebook) when he typically preferred to eat and sleep so that I could establish a nap schedule for him ... Set times where he would go down for a nap each day.
Certain family members scoffed at the idea ...
Who puts a four-month-old on a schedule?!
You just don't do that!
But I did.
And it worked.
Malcolm fell into it beautifully.
And from four months on, Malcolm knew what to expect from each day ... And this, I think, has always been comforting to him.
Maybe it's the teacher in me, but who seriously prefers a day that is nothing but chaos? If you are a student, you want to know when class begins and ends ... You want to know what's next, where you are going, what you will be doing ... In fact, it's safe to say that you look forward to certain parts of the day!
So why would a young child (at home) be any different?
I have seen children without a schedule and have heard the frustrations of other mothers whose kids "do not sleep" or "are out of control" on a daily basis. While, yes, a child's personality and temperament play a role (obviously, every kid is genetically different), routine can do so much to alleviate many of the things that drive parents crazy.
Maybe a child isn't "out of control" because they are just wired that way ... Maybe they are tired! Maybe they should have been put down for a nap earlier in the day! Maybe they are bored and need something to do! Maybe they don't realize it is time to start winding down for bedtime because they don't have any signals to tell them so ...
Malcolm has these moments, too (All kids have their moments!) ... But I try to use them to my advantage.
I learn from them.
If the routine has stopped working I tweak it so that it will again.
I am the parent.
I am in charge ... And I strongly believe that Malcolm is growing up better for it.
I guess my husband and I will really see if our parenting is as good as we think it is when the Baby #2 does arrive ... I know we'll continue to use many of the same things that were put in place when Malcolm was an infant two years ago ...
I know that there will eventually be more nap schedules, structured days, and bedtime routines ...
And I know that, despite what genetic differences there may be between my children, a routine will always be a part of our day.
While I will not end up with another "Malcolm" at the end of this pregnancy, I have no reason to dread the "holy terror" that many are predicting.
Famous last words?
Who knows ...
I still refuse to believe nature trumps all.
Good parents deserve some credit, too!