Diapers and Driving Lessons…at the same time. That had certainly not been “the plan”. The “plan” had been university and law school. The “plan” had been a career, a husband, and a little house with a white picket fence before kids. I was a “good girl”, a straight-A student, a high-achiever…and I was going places. But at the end of Grade 10 at barely 16, I found out I was pregnant. The “plan” was shot to pieces.
So I weighed my options, developed a new “plan”, and started a great adventure instead. Instead of university, I did 2 college degrees, so I could get a job to support us. My parents were a wonderful support and we were happy together, but I didn’t want to live with them forever. Hubby entered the picture when Big Guy was 4; we were married when he was 6, and we adopted him (just in case there’s any question, Big Guy is mine x2). The house came later…a semi-detached “retro” look with a car port and a persistent problem with the plumbing. No picket fence.
Fast-forward 10 years when we were ready to expand our family. Where Big Guy was an astonishingly fast surprise, Little Guy was an incredibly long wait, one I despaired that would go on forever. And so…Diapers and Driving lessons. I’d slap a clean diaper on Little Guy, strap him in the car seat in the back, and we’d take Big Guy driving (secretly, I sometimes wished I had a clean diaper on too)!
Big Guy was the same age I was when he was born – 16! But there are advantages to a 16 year difference between siblings:
- Instant Babysitter/Assistant: We never took advantage of him, but sometimes we needed that extra pair of hands. Like the one time I was crying louder than the crying baby and I handed him off to Big Guy, and stepped outside to sob for awhile. Or the time we had to tackle a Defcon5 poopy diaper…or simply to savour a rare moment in the bathroom…alone!
- Effective Birth Control: At no age does any child want to imagine what their parents were doing behind closed doors, and here was the fruit of our activity. (I may never be a grandmother as a result)!
- Greater Respect for Mom: It may have only been a brief pause, but it did give him pause when I reminded him that “I was your age when you were born…and you didn’t sleep through the night until you were 2, and I was still in school”!
- Increase sociability: Big Guy had to get out of the house to avoid the screaming and crying. Sometimes it was the baby; I tried to keep it down!
- No fighting over toys, friends, or who looked at who first.
- Teaching responsible driving: Not only did he have me in the car watching his every move (and wearing a hole in the passenger floor where there should have been a brake pedal), but he had this precious baby staring at him in the rearview mirror.
- We were mistaken for a couple: Big Guy wasn’t impressed, but if someone wants to assume I’m in my 20s, glory be!
- Daddy-training without the responsibility: Big Guy can diaper without getting peed on, bathe without wearing all the bubbles, dress a toddler on the run, and almost reason with a screaming child. He knows how to read stories and cuddle a sleepy child. He also knows how many adults it takes to clean up a child with explosive poop (the answer is 3)! But he never had to worry about fevers at 3 a.m., fixing lunch, or the endless pile of dirty laundry.
- Toys & Technology: Big Guy is great at unscrewing nano-screws to change batteries and getting us through the tough levels in video games. He has also perfected the art of dismantling toys screwed, taped or tied into stiff cardboard boxes with plastic twist ties so tightly that anything short of an apocalyptic explosion would set the toy free.
- Role-model: Even though he was old enough to mete out discipline, we encouraged Big Guy to just be the “cool big brother”! Of course, I never mind when he tells Little Guy “don’t talk back to your mother” (wink, wink)
Since Little Guy first came home from the hospital, Big Guy has been right there! I love watching my boys playing together. Big Guy is 27 and has been out on his own for a few years in another city. Thankfully he visits often. And once in awhile, Little Guy & I visit him for a “sleep over” at his place. It’s like camping…in a very scary jungle.
The “plan” in high school was a good plan. The adventure has been better, even if it involved Diapers and Driving Lessons!