The Wisdom of Two

My grandmother said many wise things that have stuck with me over time. One thing she said was, "You lose a third of your brain with every child." I think this was a variation on the old wive’s tale that you lose a tooth a child. She stopped at one child, my mother Jan, and remained relatively lucid and sensible until she died too young of cancer.

I risked two. Granted the first time was such a stunning event that it took me over five years to recover but about the time my son was starting school we decided another might be nice and besides, siblings are good to have as every one ages. Well, what she said about losing a third of your brain is true. I believe it. I have slightly less than one third remaining because menopause is also taking it’s toll but still and all I’m glad to have two children. Here’s the reason.

I don’t understand this but when one is moving along as happy as a clam at high tide the other one is going to hell in a handbasket. My grandmother said that, too. When one of mine acts as though the world is a good and loving place the other one is usually feeling doomed. Doomed, I tell you. And more to the point, at any given time, one of them comes around for dinner full of smiles and hugs while the other is plotting my demise and wondering if there’s any monetary value in it.

Both of my children are smarter than the average bear. That being said, one was usually on the verge of expulsion while the other was on the honor roll. And they took turns! Special Only would be charming his way through elementary school as the most loving and giving child they’d ever seen; teachers fighting to get this one in their classroom the next year. TD was busy being the potty Nazi in pre-school. She wanted her "PIVACY, DAMMIT!" and wouldn’t let any other child near the bathroom. This was a luxury I obviously expressed a wish for but was never afforded. By the time my son was in middle school I was getting daily calls from the vice-principal for a litany of petty offenses and TD was organizing the chess club in third grade. The first was playing at the North Sea Jazz Festival and, as you all know, T.D. was running an illicit little business out of the bowling alley.

The amazing thing to me is how they switch around. For no discernible reason. Quickly, too! Usually we’re talking weeks, sometimes months if one or the other is in a particular phase, but it can be hours. Minutes. Right now one of them is being quite charming and delightful. The other one is in a blind rage at me. This time, I understand why and that I’m not blameworthy and I’m fairly sure the child doesn’t get it. I also know that, after Tuesday, things will be fine again.

In the meantime, I’m glad I have two even though it’s left me a nit-wit because I couldn’t stand the hard times without the good.

10 responses to “The Wisdom of Two

  1. Like your mom, I only have one. Not my choice, but that is how it turned out. One thing someone might have advised me on is “timing”. When making the decision of “when” to have a child, one should consider that beyond the simple “age you should be at conception”. I waited until after med school, residency and getting set up in practice…12 years. I was 33 when she was born. Someone should have pointed out that there was a 99.99% probability that she would go through puberty at the same time I was going through menopause. And some wise person should have forseen that we would be stuck together, just the two of us for this entire process, no buffer. Not a pretty site. She survived. I survived…well, that remains to be seen.

    I used to have a nightmare when I was pregnant….I had triplets. Can you imagine all the consequences of triplets at age 33…angst x3? Let’s not go there!

  2. It’s great there’s always the balance: never too raging at the same time! My mother only ever had me so..well…she just had to suck up. *g*

  3. Interesting post! I enjoyed it. I had four kids. Didn’t hurt my brain as far as I know. Once in a while all four would be happy at the same time. Not often.

  4. LOL!!!!!! Potty nazi. I love that phrase. Just who did she learn that from?

  5. Hmmm… I can guess which one of them is in a blind rage at you right now… This post explains your email yesterday!!!

  6. My children are all adults now and thank goodness for that, but your post had me smiling and remembering. When I first experienced the empty nest syndrome (very over-rated by the way) I loved the peace and quiet. Every evening, I would put the dogs out for their last run and when I let them in at 9:00, smile and say, “You are so wonderful. I never have to wait up for you.” They of course beamed and wagged happy tails. A far cry from my former teen-agers with their groans and complaints about hours and being home on time. Thank you for your visit to my site. I enjoyed your comments. Yes, Devil in the White City was unbelievably good. However, I just finished Middlesex and wow that Jeffrey Eugenides sure can write.

  7. Too bad you didn’t have THREE kids. Then TD could bring friends home, point to you and say, “That’s my Mom. She’s a no-brainer.”

    I love dumb jokes.

  8. Too bad you didn’t have THREE kids. Then TD could bring friends home, point to you say, “That’s my Mom. She’s a no-brainer.”

    I love dumb jokes.

  9. Hoss, she already says stuff like that. And no, no matter how times you say it, it’s not too bad I didn’t have three. The world’s a better place with JUST these two as my contribution.

  10. That thump you heard? Was me falling on my rear end laughing. Yeah, you had me at paragraph #3. LOL!

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