Joel is channeling my inner Jewish mother. I'm allowed to say this because I asked my friend, Beth, (once, a long time ago), if I was allowed to be Jewish in guilt only, and she gave me the go-ahead.
By the way, there are very few Jewish folk where I live--for some reason, the chosen people don't want to live in St. Mary's County--so whenever I meet somebody of the Jewish faith, I immediately attempt to invite myself to Passover Seder. Like this:
New Friend: "I have to drive all the way to Silver Spring for Yom Kippur services."
Me: "Oh, you're Jewish." (Visions of brisket and matzo ball soup dance in my head. I wait a beat. Attempt to wait another. Cannot wait any longer.) "So, are you having a Seder this year? Can I bring wine?" It doesn't matter the time of year. This is always my first question.
New Friend: "Um, is that my phone? Excuse me..." (I then hear the sound of squealing tires.)
Although I don't get potato pancakes or invitations to Bar Mitzvahs these days, I do attempt to harness my inner Jewish mother in two ways: Food and Guilt
Joel, just to be a pisser, has decided that he doesn't like to be spoon fed. Nope. Not for him. Since he has been one for almost two weeks, he would far prefer to munch on a well-done steak or raw carrots.
We like him, so we don't let him have such choking hazards. Instead, I try a variety of finger foods, such as ravioli, sweet potatoes, dried strawberries, and so on. He enjoys mashing them up and stuffing them up his ear canal, but actually consuming these objects is quite objectionable.
He sits in his chair and screams baby obscenities, a Gordan Ramsey in Pampers. Nothing is acceptable for his mature palate except for Club Crackers and Yogurt.
This is a phase, and every book says that it is pointless to engage in food battles. Nevertheless, I find myself saying things like, "Eat! Eat! You're skin and bones! Eat!"
Owen is with his grandparents, so I had the opportunity to spend time with just Joel today. We read books, and Joel lingered over pages, flipping up the flaps or cooing at pictures as much as he liked.
Not once did his brother rip the book out of his hands or micro-manage his reading. Owen is quick to tell Joel that he is not allowed to chew the books or read them upside down, despite the fact that these books still have teeth marks from Owen's infancy.
Later, my friend came over with her adorable baby, who is about a month older than Joel. The two babies played peek-a-boo in the curtains and hung out together. They shared some crackers and mouthed each other's sippy cups. Good times.
I realized with a gasp that this was Joel's first baby playdate. He's seen other babies before, but they are usually like him---younger siblings, along for the ride. Owen, by the time he was Joel's age, had a large circle of baby playmates, and regularly attended playdates. He also attended storytime at the library, had participated in baby yoga, and had even taken a music class.
You can see where this is going. Joel's main stimulation most days involves chewing on a plastic spatula and avoiding the beat-down of his enthusiastic brother.
I know that Joel is getting the stimulation of Owen's constant chatter and he always has a play mate in his brother. If anything, Joel has progressed with language and physical milestones faster than Owen, probably just to keep up.
But yet. I feel the occasional smothering blanket of guilt. Joel doesn't get the same single-minded attention. His milestones are appreciated, but not celebrated with the same dizzying intensity. I started Joel's baby book when he was in the NICU, but have not picked it up since. I don't even blog about him as often as Owen.
The guilt is there. Usually, I'm just too busy to indulge in it.
You know what would make me feel better? A nice Passover Seder. Anyone?