The other day, my wife and I were talking about the general trends of Little Bear's behavior. He's been seriously picking fights with his brother lately, to the point of escalating things beyond simple brotherly squabbles. In addition, he's been kind of difficult in regards to the whole potty thing at home. Nothing serious, but annoying beyond what we'd expect from such an intelligent, motivated young boy.
Grandma wound up with the best response on why we've had such a hard time: we've never had a two year old before, and Little Bear is very, very two. The Boy was chronologically two, true, but he was never really a "real" two year old. The first eight months of his "two-ness" was spent in treatment and surgery, which meant he was rarely the energetic, independent toddler that Little Bear is.
It's kind of a weird thing, realizing that a part of his childhood was so different from his brother's. I know that every single person has their own life and their own experiences, and The Boy will turn out to be his own self regardless of cancer treatments and things like that. I know that each of the three boys will have their own memories and interpolations of what happens, and - most likely - they'll be just as neurotic and screwed up and normal as the rest of us.
It is also a little humbling as a parent, to be reminded of exactly how little we know. I think that, as far as parents of an under-five family, we are pretty far ahead of the curve in terms of our abilities to deal with crisis. We know how to drop everything and deal with a Big Deal. What we don't necessarily know how to rectify are normal life, every day situations like an overly passionate 2-year old.
We will get there. Little Bear is a nice boy, even if he throws lots of fits and pulls his brother's hair and wakes up at 5:45 every morning and won't go back to sleep. This, too, shall pass, and in years to come, we will look back at his infancy and toddlerhood with nostalgia and affection.
Even if we do occasionally want to duct tape him to the couch cushions.