Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Third Child

This weekend I was at a friend's house. We had visited there because they had a baby under one and found it much easier if they could stay put. This was their third child. While for the first two children, the parents would make an effort to get out, by the time the third rocked up, it was apparent that staying put for nursing and sleeping outweighed any benefit that might arise from a few months of extra mobility.

This illustrates lots of things but, importantly, how parental experience changes with the number of children. The same thing happened to us with our third child but it gave rise to an unintended consequence. When Child No.3 was about 14 months, we were out in a park -- having started to venture out again after the winter. She looked up and saw a bird in a tree. Then the bird dropped off the branch. My daughter explained "oh dear!" and then watched in amazement as the bird flew off.

At that moment, it is entirely possible she had not seen a bird in reality. For me, watching her realisation that birds would not fall but fly was amazing. 

Now, of course, I can imagine that some reading this would be horrified at this story. Isn't this exactly why you have to get out? I beg to differ. Had she been out and about, birds would have been common place and never amazing. There is surely such a thing as optimal timing for natural experience.