I've been told that second children tend to be more flexible. Since the parents of said children do not have the time to obsess over each hiccup and coo, second children are supposed to be more independent and less "intense" over all.
That's what I've been told. Enter stage left, Joel Edward Campbell.
Joel is flexible in the same way that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, is flexible. Joel is as flexible as a group of runners in a yoga class (obscure, yes, but let me assure you: Runners are not flexible).
I recall the scene from As Good As it Gets, where Jack Nicholson unwraps his plastic cutlery before ordering his same breakfast from his same booth from his same waitress. If anything did not happen in the same way, the results were ugly. Joel has similar expectations. He must nurse in the same chair in the same corner of the same darkened room, with the same sound of the same humidifier humming in the background. After his meal, he must be placed in the same crib, in the same direction, wearing the same fuzzy sleep sack. He will promptly roll himself over in the same position, lying not on his back, not on his belly, but on his side. Yes, my infant sleeps like a pregnant woman.
If Joel does not have all of these elements in place, he will not sleep soundly. Case in point: this weekend. We traveled to Virginia for Early Easter. Joel's naps were off...to say the least. We would put him down, but the pack and play was a poor substitute for his crib, and the boobs, while still the same boobs, must not have had the right stuff. Maybe it turns chocolate when I cross state lines...
This is so new to me. In contrast, when Owen was Joel's age, I nursed him at the finish line of the Marine Corps Marathon. We were outside. Surrounded by about 10,000 people. Music was playing. People were yelling, clapping, singing through bullhorns. It was like New York's Puerto Rico Day Parade, except with a lot more Under Armour. Owen did not give a damn. He was hungry. (I, meanwhile, was mortified that I was nursing, but the alternative was far worse...a crabby baby).
While Owen was a flexible eater and sleeper, he was more intense about our attention. We were required to sit and watch him play. Joel, on the other hand, will happily play by himself, and he'll let us know when he wants us. This weekend, he was playing in the living room. He decided he wanted to be part of the group and lurched himself over to the kitchen (where we were all eating), using his military crawl/scoot. It was the equivalent of a baby half-marathon. He was panting with the effort, but so, so happy to have met his goal. By himself. Owen? He would have sat in the living room and howled, summoning one of his minions (aka US) to tend to his needs.
Perhaps I should reconsider my thesis. Joel is a pretty flexible guy, as long as he gets to eat and sleep in his own bed. It may be that he knows the nursing and bedtime are uninterrupted, alone time, with the people he loves the most---his mom and dad. He will be patient about other things, but quiet comfort, a soft bed, and a loving touch---that's his line in the sand.