Monday, October 25, 2010

Little Monkey

Younger Bro is a climber. He will get on top of any available surfaces that he can find, and he will climb as high as he can, without any fear or care for consequences or next steps. It's all developmentally appropriate, I understand; I just wish he would take the time to learn to climb down things (like stairs) without going headfirst.

I've found him standing on the piano keyboard, on the puzzle cabinet, on the kitchen table, on the dining room table (well, not quite; caught him before he got fully up), and on the coffee tables. He's tried numerous times to climb into and out of the bathtub, and when asked the question, "Do you want to take a bath?" responds by chanting "Bath! Bath! Bath!" as he sprints for the stairs, climbs up, walk/runs into the bathroom, and turns on the hot water faucet. Not ideal, but still pretty darn cute.

The latest is climbing up onto the black chairs in the kitchen, to sit at the low table. I would love to let him eat his meals there, but he doesn't quite grasp the concept of picking up food from a plate or a bowl without knocking the bowl over. We still try every once in a while, but not consistently. I would bet that, with steady practice, he'd get it; I'm not sure if I want to spend the time making each meal two or three times.

This is in stark contrast to The Boy at fifteen (almost sixteen) months. The Boy was sitting at the table and eating; he was a lot more careful with his fine motor control than Younger Bro, who tends to respond like Bam-Bam from the Flintstones. He had had his second major surgery in five months and was two treatments into his relapse therapy. The etoposide had caused relatively significant developmental delays, and he wasn't really walking full-time yet. His climbing was not nearly as well developed, although he could identify a few more letters than YB can. YB is a lot more vocal than The Boy is; The Boy knew as many words, I think, but didn't have as much to say. Getting regularly pumped with large amounts of toxic chemicals will do that to you, I guess.

I'm struck, on a daily basis, how different my children are from each other. It's more than just being two different people; it's two entirely different developmental plans. The Boy's experience, and our experience as parents, was shaped almost entirely by his cancer diagnosis and treatments. Every waking moment of every day, by fifteen / sixteen months of his life, was spent dealing with cancer issues: sterilizing toys, our house, ourselves; avoiding contact with other kids except on those rare "high counts" days; recognizing that he was in mortal danger before he knows what those words mean. Even the little things, like snuggling and sleeping, are different. We'll let Younger Bro cry himself out a little bit when he goes to sleep. We know the difference between the "I'm crying because I'm tired and need to rest but am upset about it" cry and the "I'm crying because you put me in the stupid crib and I'm not going to sleep no matter what you have to say about it" cry, and it's not a big deal for any of us - him included - for a few minutes of crying. With The Boy, we hated to let him cry for any length of time because:

1) he had a rough enough time without us adding to it by forcing him to do things like sleep by himself; and

2) he was already on multiple blood pressure medications, and we were afraid he'd send himself into cardiac arrest if he freaked out too much.

Slightly different attitudes and ideas, no? YB has been a crier since birth, The Boy less so. Sick children are frequently more affectionate because of their need, and YB has been anything but.

The last two nights, YB has made more-than-cameo appearances in our family bed. He's stayed for at least an hour each time, snuggling close to Mum and Daddy until displaced by The Boy. Displaced might be the wrong word; let's say that the presence of his brother inspired him to play more than to sleep. I think I really do sleep better with a little, wiggly, warm body snuggling up close, even if it does tend to make our lovelife a little more difficult. Still, we're not the only parents to say, "Quick! The kids are asleep!"


Sarah R said...

My kids are polar opposites as well. I would think some of it would have to do with The Boy's treatments, but most of it is probably differences in personalities: The Boy is more cautious and analytical than YB. :)

It's crazy. Andrew didn't crawl until 9 months (over 9 months) and he didn't walk (short of the few steps he took at 14 months) until 16 months.

Elise was tripod sitting at 5 months, crawling by 6 months, and pulling herself up by 7 months. What a difference!

Elana said...

The twins are climbers too. I've caught them on the dining room table numerous times, so I have to make sure I get all the climbable chairs out of the room if I'm going to turn my back for even a second. But coming down? Well, then can get down off of chairs no problem, but for some reason haven't moved that to going down stairs *grumble* We'll get there one step at a time (literally)

Johanna S said...

I am sure that cancer had a huge impact on The Boy's development, but it is also possible that they just have very different personalities. I am one of three. We are each very different. I am not one to take chances. My brother and sister were always jumping off of anything. My sister and I are both visually impaired. I was cautious since day one. Everyone figured it must be because I am nearly blind. Then my sister came along... That kid just would not stop! Same parents, same eye condition, completely different people! It's just life making sure you don't get bored! And, well, YB sounds like a risky imp!