Dear Anand, You are…

Dear Anand,

You are six months old today. I want to tell you what you're like right now, but what I keep coming up with are comparisons to your sister. Is that the dreaded second-child syndrome? Or just the natural consequence of having someone to compare against? With Kavya, everything was new to us; with you, we find ourselves constantly saying, "Oh, that's earlier / later / different from how Kavi did it." And it's all complicated by gender, of course, because we don't know which of the differences are testosterone-driven (along with other biological bits), and which are just you.

But keeping that all in mind, here is a list of ways in which you are different from your sister:

  • You started eating solids much earlier. At four months, you were watching us eat and seemed eager to try food. (Kavi showed no such interest; we started her on solids at six months, and she liked them fine, but she was (and still is) a milk girl, through and through.) You progressed quickly from rice cereal and oatmeal cereal to applesauce, bananas, peas, squash, green beans, carrots, and prunes. We think you might be a little allergic to sweet potatoes (you got all red and blotchy), so we haven't tried those again. And you don't seem to like peaches much, which is funny, because your daddy loves peaches, especially white peaches. Perhaps they will grow on you. You really love food in general, though -- you get cranky when it's breakfast or lunch or dinnertime (yes, you're already on three solid meals a day) and your food is not ready, and you get positively panicky and very demanding when you see us making it. I hope you like our cooking just as much as these purees, although if your metabolism is anything like your parents', we'd better enroll you in some sports early. Or dance. Or martial arts. I was a chubby kid, and I'd like to spare you that (both of you); the playground is not a kind place. Which is not to say that we won't love you whatever size / shape / etc. you are. I'm not sure how parents are supposed to balance those things, but we're going to try our best. Neither of us ever fit in with the crowd, so I don't think you need to worry too much about our pressuring you to try to blend in.

  • Your name, Anandan, means happy (well, bliss, I think, but happy is a good day-to-day translation). And you are definitely a happier baby than your sister. You smile a lot -- you even started laughing a lot at four months, and you have a great, infectious, loud laugh. I don't remember Kavi really laughing at all as a baby. You laugh when we make funny noises at you, or pretend to eat your cheeks (okay, that one is mostly me). You smile all the time -- at sunshine and wind, at your sister and your dog, at us. You just seem to have a calm, happy temperament. I'm going to claim that you get that from me; I think I was a person of pretty sanguine humor, back before I turned into a stressed-out workaholic without enough hours in the day. But my base temperament is pretty much happy. Unlike your dad, who is more the melancholic type, or perhaps phlegmatic. Somewhere in there, at any rate. I think Kavi is more of his temperament, prone even as a baby to weeping and wailing, and now to sudden middle-of-the-night upsets. You don't sleep through the night yet, but some nights, you actually sleep more solidly than she does.

  • You're also a much more day-night person than she was as a baby. You tend to wake with the sun, and fall asleep with it too, and you have trouble napping during the day. This is likely to cause us difficulty when the long days of summer roll around. Already, you only sleep in maybe two to three little half-hour naps during the day, which is not good. Kavi had a solid two hour nap in the morning, and another in the afternoon for a long time, and even now, she tends to take a single three hour nap in the afternoon, which lets us get a lot done (or did, before you came along). I'd be really surprised if you did the same, although the gods know, I'm going to try to encourage you to nap. Nap early and often, that's what we like to see.

  • You're a much stronger baby than she was, and this one, I think we really do have to put down to the boy-ness of you. I'm constantly being surprised by the strength of your arms, and even your legs, although the difference isn't as apparent there. Mostly it's funny, but occasionally it's dangerous -- this morning, you were sitting in your moses basket on its rocking stand, and I was cleaning the table, a few steps away. You had set it rocking, which you often do, but in an instant when I was turned around (so I didn't actually see what happened), you somehow managed to lever yourself up enough to throw yourself out of the basket and onto the floor. Somehow without even tipping the basket over; I still don't know how you did that. My god. I almost had a heart attack, and you certainly screamed your head off for a few minutes, but you seem to be fine now. I'll be checking for concussion all day, though. It's times like this when I want to say, "Stop being such a boy!" I guess we just have to recalibrate our expectations for what you can do with that upper body of yours.

There are other differences, I'm sure. But there are actually a lot more similarities than differences. You're a good baby, just like she was. You are soft and sweet and cuddly. We love you to pieces. If we were younger, we'd think about having another, which is clearly insane of us as we have neither time nor energy for the two of you as it is, but you are just so adorable that you force those thoughts into our heads.

It's not going to happen, though, because we really are too tired. Kevin will be 40 this year, and I'll be 39; we want to stay hale and healthy until you two graduate college, at least, so I think we'd better stop here. Which means, of course, that even as you race from one stage to another -- eating solids, rolling over, sitting upright, trying to stand (which you absolutely love doing) -- we're both celebrating those accomplishments with you, and wistfully looking back at the little baby you leave behind. Today I'll be packing away your 3-6 month clothes, saving the nicer ones for my sisters' children (should they choose to have them), and giving away the rest to local Oak Park parents. Goodbye little rocket boy shirt. Goodbye alligator overalls. We will miss you.

Six months already. Your sister is almost three years old. How can the days be so long, and the weeks and months and years so short?


8 thoughts on “Dear Anand, You are…”

  1. I’m intrigued by the strength thing — do boy babies really have that much more upper body strength than girl babies even at six months? Juniper has always seemed pretty strong, although we don’t have much to compare her to, except statistical stuff like she’s always been very tall for her age.

    Do you think that environment has been a factor at all? Do you wrestle and roughhouse and otherwise play more physically with Anand than you do/did with Kavi? Junie loves to climb and wrestle and play physically, which I assume is part of why she’s strong, but for all I know she’s not nearly as strong as she would be if she were a boy.

  2. Patrick will be 4 months in a couple of weeks and I think he’ll likely be starting solids early, too. Just curious– do you make the purees yourself or are they store bought? A friend asked if I was intending to make my own baby food (she’s planning to, but her baby is only 2 months) and I don’t even know where to begin with such a thing. I just assumed when the time came for him to eat solids, he’d get mushed up versions of our adult food. I’m guessing that’s not practical because they need to be exposed to new foods one at a time?

  3. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    I don’t think it’s environment — Kev and I are both lazy bums, so we don’t do much wrestling / roughhousing with either kid, especially before six months. Mostly just lots of cuddling.

    It’s hard to tell if it’s just memory playing tricks, of course. But I keep being surprised by Anand just pushing or grabbing at me with his arms, and the strength of them. I don’t remember any of that with Kavya. Maybe he’s stronger, or more physically active, or both.

    Some of it certainly might be temperament. Kavi is definitely calmer and less active than many of our friends’ daughters. She’s even on the timid side — she’s slower to climb and such than most kids her age. But I don’t know how much of a factor that would have been at just six months.

  4. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Kristina, we use the Gerber purees (or the Wild Harvest organics), because it’s so much easier. I intended to make our own with Kavya, but turned out to be too busy / lazy.

    And yes, you don’t want to just puree your own food, because you want to introduce foods singly for the first several months, so you can check for allergies. Also, nothing we gave the tiny babies has added sugar or salt or pepper — and I would be very sad to leave salt out of our cooking! I’m not sure at what point we started adding seasonings — maybe 9 months? You might want to look up the recommendations on that.

    Once they’re older, you can certainly give them some of your food. For Kavi, for example, at some point we would do things like make a vegetable soup and then puree it for her (and of course, at some point when they can chew and you’re past the choking worries, you can stop bothering to puree). Or something we were already pureeing, like a squash soup, she would gobble up. But that meant we couldn’t put cream in the squash soup, and it’s so much better with cream… 🙂

  5. Oh, that’s helpful. Thanks! I really need to start reading ahead so I know what to anticipate regarding introducing solids. I would love to say I will make my own baby food, but it seems so much simpler to buy it.

  6. I thought cream was good for babies. Why did you need to leave it out of the sqyash soup? Don’t toddlers need a higher fat diet than adults?

  7. I think it’s possible that boy-babies are stronger than their sisters at the same age. Ours was. But then again, he was also stronger than his same-age boy cousin, so it could have been just him. Watch out for TV sets on tables when he starts walking (though flat-screens prolly aren’t as bad as the old CRT things).

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