Bye, Bye Baby

Toby hasn’t lost his first baby tooth yet, but sometime in the last month, he lost his last baby word. I don’t even know exactly when it happened, but one day while I was making his peanut butter and honey sandwich and he was telling me a story about school, he properly used the word ‘went’. Just used it as naturally as he rides a bike, or slides on his shoes, or kicks a goal: with no effort at all. See, he used to say ‘go’ed’. And we’d say–every time–‘you mean you went,‘ just casually, hoping to slowly and gently correct his grammar. And now I’m wondering, why did we do that? Because wouldn’t you know it, it worked.

And now ‘go’ed’ is gone forever.

I recently read a wonderful list on Bad Mommy Moments (originally on Lost in Suburban Bliss) of things she misses from her children’s early years. It made me nostalgic, of course, but generally speaking, I don’t miss these things. Day to day, I’m the mom who’s eager for her children to get older, to get taller and bigger and stronger and able to join in on the outing, the sport, the joke. I’m all about forward momentum, milestones, and the next adventure. I’m the one correcting the ‘go’ed’.

And I regret that today, because youngest children are already on the fast-track. They’re the kids pushed the most to keep up (or more likely, catch up), to try before they’re ready, to jump the gun. Movies you didn’t allow your oldest child to watch at age six are suddenly approved for all audiences because the majority rules. Sport programs you wouldn’t consider for a kindergartner are now on the schedule because everyone else is going to the fields Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and it’s just easier. Bedtime decisions seem to defer to the oldest, not the youngest, because there’s homework to be done (not by the youngest) and practice to attend (not by the youngest) andyou’re busy and you’re tired (more so than with your oldest).

Toby has a Nintendo DS. He got it for Christmas right after he turned five. And I know many five-year-olds have similar toys, but we never would have deemed such an expensive electronic device appropriate for our other kids at that age. However, everyone else was getting one, and we knew he’d feel left out if he didn’t receive one as well. And you know what our constant manta has been for the last year, every time we get ready to go anywhere? “Toby, where’s your DS? Well, where did you see it last? Has anyone else seen it? Where is your case? Where are your games? Where, Toby, where?!

Because he’s too young to take responsibility for it. And we gave it to him anyway. Just like we gave him a trip to Disney World when he was two and can’t remember it (because the other boys were the perfect ages) and just like we put him on skis when he was three, because we were spending every Saturday on the mountain anyway. And the sweetest, saddest part is: he takes it in stride. He wears it so well. He is, in every sense of the word, game.

He takes risks. He leaps when he may well slip. He sets his sights high and reaches. On a daily basis, he squares his shoulders and measures himself up against older kids. And he’s so used to falling short, he’s immune to the fear of failure. (Although certainly not to failure itself.) As a result, he’s developed this tough outer shell that seems to say, ‘Go ahead and place me dead last of three…again. I can take it. And then I’ll tell you to take it and shove it, and try to beat them all again tomorrow.’

It makes me kind of wish I were a third-born, too.

23 thoughts on “Bye, Bye Baby

  1. As a purchaser of a Christmas DS for my 5 year old, I can relate! We are on our third stylus.

    I adored the baby words–hubs would always correct the girls when they used them and I’d get so mad! Didn’t he understand how charming those words were? I miss them.

    • Agreed! I love those little mispronounced words, and the sad thing is, I can’t remember the one my oldest always mixed up, and it’s only a handful of years later. Why, oh why didn’t I write those down when I had the chance?

  2. FYI….For better or for worse, this also means Toby “rules” the playground at recess. Jacob proudly told me (as if Toby was his younger brother) that Toby was far more advanced on the playground than his Kindergarten buddies….and after all, when you are a young boy growing up, isn’t life about ruling recess? Ha ha…..
    I miss those “go’ed” times too…..

    • Yes, that is what it’s all about! We keep telling Calvin that Toby will be a better soccer player than him or Nate when he’s older if they keep teaching him everything they know! But right now, he loses every time, of course! Funny that Jacob noticed about the playground. Toby is lucky to have lots of nice older boys looking out for him. It’s the same way at skiing practice…all the older kids help him out!

  3. We bought our eldest a DS for his 7th birthday last month. The 5 year-old cried b/c she wanted one too. But we decided it was a really special gift for him to enjoy. I bet she gets one when she turns 6.

    Our third? Yep. Bedtime is later. He gets away with a LOT more than the other two did. He’s also much more advanced physically than they were at the same age – because he’s exposed to Razors and skateboards and all that stuff. Yes, he’s not yet 2.

    I am a third child and I don’t remember measuring myself or trying to live up to them. I just rebelled in my own, not-so-charming way. 😉

    • I’m glad to hear from a ‘third baby’ survivor that you weren’t scarred by coming in last! 😉 A rebel hmm? As a first born, I wouldn’t know about that!

  4. There is no stopping my third-born sister, who has lived in London, traveled the world, whooped up on a double lung transplant, and never for a moment doubts that she can accomplish what she sets out to do. Toby is being trained well!

  5. This post really hit home with me. I, too, am the mom of three boys, the youngest of which is six. I used to rush the evening along anxiously waiting for the clock to hit 8pm – the bedtime hour, to read and lie down and then be “done” for the evening. Now he reads to himself and doesn’t need me – it’s left me feeling a little sad. It’s a feeling that I’ve not experienced with the first. And, yes, yes, yes – the later bedtimes, the inappropriate movies, the freedom this little one enjoys – all because he’s the last.

    And, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but my 12yo just lost his DS, so keep asking. I think with boys it takes awhile…

    • Yes, maybe the DS issue is a boy one, not a youngest child one…

      I know just what you mean about that magical time in our children’s lives when we wait for the bedtime hour, trying to fill the gaps in our day. Now it flies by instead. Funny, I was thinking of writing a post about that!

  6. I absolutely adore the baby words. My daughter says “lellow” instead of “yellow” and our all time favorite is “snawich” instead of “sandwich.” It is is so endearing and innocent. I will be mourning this loss when it happens too.

    • My oldest always said ‘sash’ instead of ‘shower’ and we still substitute that word in our family vernacular. So silly, but somehow comforting…

  7. Stopping by from SITS and loved this post! Although I too enjoy the forward momentum and gently prod the grammar and enunciation along, I find myself clinging to some the echoes of her baby babble… We have an only “oldest” so far, but this was a wonderful sneak peek at what may be to come 🙂

  8. Our 3rd, we say is not the middle child, but the Center of the Brotherhood! Each one seems born with an innate desire to keep up with the next one up. Our 3rd one has a joyful spirit. We call him The Freshness after the Storm! LOL When our oldest was little, there wasn’t the kind of technology today, but our youngest got a ipod for Christmas last year – and mis-placed it 2 weeks before this Christmas. Yeah, he was probably too young. The 4th one at the same age saved up his money and bought his own – just differences in children. Our guys still have age-appropriate bedtimes, and you’ll hear us hollering, “Change the channel, you know they can’t watch that” and the older ones, so enjoy lording it over the little guys, that they send them to the next room! LOL Then we hear a bunch of grumbling and griping. Our oldest son says we were too tough on him and slacked up. I replied that we realized we set ridiculous standards, like expecting a 2 year old to make his bed by himself. And we corrected those standards. He just rolls his eyes! That’s about the time I like to point out that, well, really, he’s lucky we just didn’t chuck him into the garbage can.

    Loved your post! Love your mother-insight!

  9. I found your blog last week and have enjoyed your writing immensely. I too have three boys and they are now 9th, 7th and 4th graders. We held out on electronic devices until the eldest was in the middle of 4th grade…at which time the youngest was 5 years old. Eldest has said over the years that Youngest is so good at the games because he got started so early! We went camping for the first time when Youngest was 3, ditto on the bowling and ditto on the family movie night.
    Speaking of which—love your Retro Movie night posts. We are the Friday Night Movie Family (albeit harder now that Eldest is in 9th grade) and sometimes our choices involve, ahem, words, but right back to that thread of Youngest knowing more, right? I wanted to recommend “Uncle Buck” with John candy. It is on our list of annual Winter Break movies to watch and we highly recommend it (rated PG). Loved your suggestion of Three Amigos, which we will watch this weekend. So great to “meet” you.

    • Great to ‘meet’ you as well! Uncle Buck is an excellent suggestion; I’ll put it in the queue now! Our youngest is the most video game/technology savvy too, probably because he could work a mouse before he could walk!

  10. Oh, this is what awaits my third-born! In a frenzy of hats and jackets and sippy cups and shoe-searching this morning, I asked him to wipe his nose. Then I remembered he’s only 8 months old. And this morning I laughed, but your words make me see how poignant their childhoods really are and how easy it is to rush them through it.

  11. One of favorite family stories is when Ella Rose was little she had pet rats but she couldn’t say her “r” sound yet. She would say “I have Wats”, then we would say back “You have Wats” and she would say, “No, no, I have Wats”. She was hearing herself say the “r” sounds it just wasn’t coming out that way. She was so patient with us.

    She also told us one day she was “Poor” or something like that. Dave and I guessed and guessed and again she never got frustrated, just very patiently repeating the word. Finally she said “you know like on SpongeBob”. We were both like “Oh, Pearl” and she said “yep, poor”.

    She loves hearing these stories now that she says everything like a big girl.

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