Thank you all for the fascinating, illuminating, and completely civil conversation on that last post. I often feel like I’ve found one of the rare corners of the Internet that hasn’t been tied down and cornholed to death with a hot beef injection of Crazy, and I’m so grateful for it.

You know what’s sort of funny about the whole topic, is that I brought it up in the first place because Riley had his best school friend over (with her parents) a couple weeks ago and after her mom emailed me about setting up another playdate the Gun Thing suddenly (belatedly) popped into my brain. I’d been hemming and hawing over whether I should go ahead and bring it up and worrying about how to address it and whether or not it was even necessary and all the stuff that got mentioned in the comments, really, and after reading through everything you guys had to say and doing a lot of thinking on it, I was like, all right, I’m going to work up the nerve to talk with the mom about it, let’s DO this thing. And then JB was like, uhh I totally pointed out our safe when I was demonstrating the safety locks on our power tools.

Huh. Okay then. (Ha ha ha, and you guys were worried about the guns. LET’S ALL PLAY BYE BYE FINGERS WITH THE CIRCULAR SAW!) (Oh my god, I’m just kidding, we don’t let visiting kids play in the shop.)

On a different subject, it randomly occurred to me recently that Dylan is officially older than Riley was when I brought Riley on a cross-country trip to Washington D.C. and while my time there with Riley was utterly wonderful and exceeded my expectations in nearly every way, I don’t think there’s any way in hell I’d do something similar with my second son.

This realization speaks volumes about the differences between the two in a way that’s brand new to me, because my memory is so faulty it’s been virtually impossible for me to compare Dylan to what Riley was like at the same age over the last few years (excepting certain things like how one kid slept through the night like a champ and the other woke me up for three solid years, not that, ahem, I’m holding a grudge or anything).

The main difference, I think, is that Dylan has a much shorter attention span than Riley did when he was 3.5-4 years old. For instance, Dylan won’t veg out in front of the TV, while Riley will sit saucer-eyed for hours in front of anything—like, even golf—if you let him. I don’t have any faith that I could keep Dylan entertained on a 7-hour flight, no matter how many distractions I packed on board, whereas I have blog documentation that Riley watched about 937 back-to-back Curious George episodes on the way there and back.

Dylan is also virtually impossible to get from point A to point B. I know I bought a travel stroller for Riley, but that was really less about containment and more about my concern that he’d get worn out walking for long distances. When we weren’t using it, he walked beside me through the airport like a normal, if pint-sized, human being. In comparison, I can barely herd Dylan through a grocery store aisle without wanting to commit seppuku—he wanders, he dashes in random directions, he walks right into people, he stops and touches things, he steps on my feet, he randomly bursts out singing, he loudly exclaims over every single thing he deems newsworthy (“HEY THAT MAN HAS A HAT LIKE A COWBOY DO YOU THINK HE HAS A HORSE MOM?”).

I do remember that out of all the travel logistics with Riley, the only thing that went haywire was the following incident:

We had arrived back in Seattle, rode the little train over towards baggage claim, and were just approaching the escalator when Riley dashed in front of me and hopped on. I think he must have thought it was going to be like the flat people-mover he had so enjoyed in the DC airport, and as he ascended and the steps pulled apart he completely lost his shit. He was clinging to the steps and howling and I pulled him to his feet, begged him to stay put, and in the meantime I managed to leave the stroller back at the bottom of the escalator, so I told him to stand still and I began sprinting back down the up steps, which I thought was going to be easy but ha ha ha HAAAA, NO, I was running like an idiot with my heavy-ass backpack pounding against me and my flip-flops making comical splatting noises against my feet but I was making no progress, like some sort of giant stupid hamster on a wheel, and Riley was screaming “MOMMMMMY!” and stretching a pathetic little arm out to me and people at the top of the escalator turned to see what horrible parent had abandoned their child who was probably going to get sucked under the sucker-inner part at the end and I was like “Just a sec! Just a sec!” and finally a security guard came and grabbed the stroller and got on the escalator and gave it to me, THE END.

I am absolutely 100% convinced that if I took Dylan on a similar trip, I’d have at least 83 different stories like that, only much, much worse. It’s funny, I would never have said Dylan is harder than Riley was, and in many ways I think he’s more lighthearted, affectionate and fun than Mr. Suspicious was during the preschool years, but there is no freaking way I’d get on a plane with him. Bless his adorable, mischievous, totally unique heart.

Screen shot 2012-01-09 at 4.39.49 PM


33 Responses to “His own man”

  1. Lori on January 9th, 2012 5:43 pm

    I think my daughter is a lot like Dylan. She’s a bright, sunny, happy, almost four-year-old who acts like a crazed pinball in public settings. I see people walking through stores with calm, cooperative children of the same age and I wonder, what the hell am I doing wrong? Why aren’t they having to constantly run after their children while screaming their names at increasing levels of volume? Most store trips end with me having to carry her. And I definitely feel the judgement from other parents and strangers. So I appreciate hearing from you just how different kids from the same family can be.

  2. Amy on January 9th, 2012 6:10 pm

    Peeing my pants laughing so hard!! I feel the exact same way about my boys. Nick is loving and sweet but no way I would have taken him on a plane at 4…but did take Ian to Disneyland for his 4th birthday. And although it should have been a relatively quick trip (Sac to Orange)our flight was TRIPLE diverted because Dubyah was in town and they kept thinking he was heading to the airport (It’s closed, it’s open, it’s closed, it’s open) and the whole time we were circling or going to other airports to pick up fuel. Ian was a peach…..with Nick, we would have been asked to leave the plane!

  3. Kris on January 9th, 2012 6:21 pm

    I have a Dylan, too. Sometimes I break down and beg him to just. sit. still. Which, of course, he never does. TV works in short bursts; but he’s always doing something else when it’s on. Never, ever staring slackjawed at the screen. I would rather get on a plane with a hundred rattlesnakes than spend one hour on a plane with my boy. Love him to pieces, but no.

    Oh – Lori – me, too. I think the parents of Stepford Children give their kids weed before taking them out in public. It’s the only thing that makes any sense. ;) Or our kids are just more, um, “spirited”, right?!?

  4. Ginger on January 9th, 2012 6:34 pm

    My son sounds a lot like Dylan. A few months ago, my mom came to visit us. Prior to her visit, she had said a lot of vaguely infuriating comments: “Oh, that’s just how kids are!” “Oh sooner or later you’ll figure out how to make him behave.” “Oh, he’s just being a kid”. And a lot of “you just need to tell him what you want him to do.” And I would just laugh, and laugh, and laugh because NO. Just telling him? Yeah, not happening. That kid has zero fear and zero filter and there is no such thing as SLOW DOWN.

    Anyway, she came to visit and on the last day, as I was driving her to the airport, she looked at me and went “I get why you’re so exhausted now.”

    And I just laughed.

  5. jonniker on January 9th, 2012 6:45 pm

    You mean there are OTHER kinds of children? I didn’t know. I’m being serious. The idea of Sam sitting still for seven hours and/or walking like a normal person through an airport OR a store is LAUGHABLE to me. She never watches a television show in its entirety unless she’s strapped in to a moving vehicle, and has never done ANYTHING in a store other than vibrate all over the place and ask to be up! down! in the cart! On the floor! No, in the cart! No! Carry me! Wait, are those PENGUINS? *runs off to investigate*

    It’s exhausting, yes. Fun, but my God, I don’t take her ANYWHERE anymore.

  6. Trina on January 9th, 2012 7:18 pm

    My kids are the same age as yours and the same temperment. My oldest I could’ve taken on an airplane trip around the world at 3 1/2 years old and she would have been awesome. My son who will be 4 on Wednesday. NO WAY IN HELL. He has the attention span of a gnat. He runs EVERYWHERE and makes a race car noise while he is doing it that is so spot on and so loud It makes my head spin. Let’s not even start on the crocodile tears and the high pitched whine that he has been doing since birth.

    He is so much easier in so many ways than his sister was. As a matter of fact I tell people all the time how much easier he is, but, I think it’s probably because I am more relaxed this time around. But not enough to take him on an airplane by myself.

  7. Nicole on January 9th, 2012 7:58 pm

    Ok I DIED laughing at the escalator story…
    My son is exactly like Dylan, very easily distracted and a nightmare to run errands with.

  8. Nikki on January 9th, 2012 8:19 pm

    My brother’s name is Dylan, and he sounds very similar to your Dylan. Of course yours is still young and my brother will be 22 this year. But still…very much alike! haha

  9. Tracey (sparkyd) on January 9th, 2012 8:28 pm

    I just had to say that I LOVE that picture!

  10. nonsoccermom on January 9th, 2012 8:41 pm

    HAAA. You could be describing my kids almost exactly. My youngest just turned four and SWEET FANCY MOSES the child is INCAPABLE of slowing down. I spend my days repeating “Take it easy! Sit down! Settle down! JUST CALM DOWN!!” A plane trip with her would be a special kind of torture. Not gonna happen.

    On the other hand, my son (now 9) took his first plane trip at 8 weeks old and has always been a champion flyer. We lived several states from family when he was born and he made the 3.5 hour flight home so simple. Easy to entertain, willing to sit still – even in my lap.

    His sister, though. Man. Not even on a dare.

  11. Mama Bub on January 9th, 2012 8:52 pm

    We have the same child. We went to Hawaii last year with both kids and if it weren’t for the utter exhaustion of swimming all day combined with the time change, I probably would have left him there.

    He is entertained by anything electronic, so the flight was fine, except for our concern for his ever diminishing brain cells caused us to take short breaks from the iPad. Those were some of the worse ten minute periods of my life. Here! COLOR SOMETHING. Eat a snack. BLINK.

  12. Donna on January 9th, 2012 9:14 pm

    Do you remember the post you wrote about kids having meltdowns in stores, throwing tantrums, and pitching the most godawful fit you’ve ever seen in your life?
    Well, today, while in a hobby store, there was a mom with two kids of the approximate age of Dylan and Riley, and it was the older kid that had gone nuclear….to the point where I wanted to beat him. This kid was at the front of the store, and they were almost to the check out and I guess that he realized that she was not buying whatever it was he wanted, and I kid you not, you could hear this kid all the way to the back of the store, screaming at her that he hated her, did not want to live with her, wanted to live with just his dad, was not going home with her, and then broke away from her, ran to the back of the store and when she found him, he was lying on the floor kicking and screaming and no shit, kicked her in the face….not a straight up kick, but like a stomping kick, and then she picked him up and he was punching her and pulling her hair, and would have bitten her too I think only she put him down and he took off again. After all the store employees hunted him down and caught him, one employee carried out the younger kid, and she carried out the older kid, still screaming at the top of his lungs.
    I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life. It was just insane. I don’t know how the mom kept from crying at the top of her lungs too, it was nuts. I’m sure there were other issues going on, but I thought of you and the post you wrote and thought I’ve got to tell Linda, cuz she thought her kids were bad that one time, lol!
    And uh, no, this had nothing to do with this post.

  13. Robyn on January 10th, 2012 12:59 am

    Just THINK of the blog posts you’d be able to write tho!!! Just do it! Take him somewhere! :)

    Mine are 16 and 14, both boys, and easy peezy now! Just hafta feed em basically! It does get better Linda!

  14. Kirsty on January 10th, 2012 4:26 am

    Without wishing to discourage anyone, my almost 8 year old younger daughter is STILL like that. OK, not so much the running off in a public place thing, but the never-sitting-still thing? Oh yes. She still hates sleeping, is the pickiest (and most unpredictable) eater in the world and regularly drives me batshit. Her elder sister (just turned 10)? Quiet, easy-peasy. Could have taken her on a plane when she was 2. Lydie? Wouldn’t do it even now… Fortunately, she’s as cute as a button, very, very affectionate and utterly lovable. Otherwise, I would have sent her back I think! (That said, she is the reason we only had two kids!)

  15. Callie on January 10th, 2012 6:25 am

    And that is why I’m already a little afraid of my second son (due in March). My first is a lot like Riley – sort of a shrunken down adult. I think I’ve got a rude awakening coming when Charlie arrives…

  16. Christina on January 10th, 2012 7:02 am

    Must be a 2nd child thing because our daughter is EXACTLY the same way. Our 1st will veg out on TV for hours, even golf, and he listens, walks beside me and he can infinitely helpful in the stores or on trips. Our daughter is the same way in public. She is constantly looking backwards and ramming head long into things/people, stepping on my toes, yelling random weird things… You know all the same things you wrote about with reference to Dylan. Her saving grace, she has been a WAY better sleeper than her brother who kept me up for about three years. Parenting: if it does not kill you, it will make you stronger!

  17. Curly Cardi Girl on January 10th, 2012 7:43 am

    My brother was like this growing up (and his name is Dillon!), and my 21 month old daughter sounds exactly like your Dylan. Changes activity every 5 minutes, can only watch TV if she is constantly doing something else (vaulting herself over the side of the sofa, putting babydolls in her play over) and might I also add that at Thanksgiving (19 months) started to scale the chain link fence in our yard?!?! Like Jonna said, it’s a blast, but so exhausting. I can always tell if a parent has a high energy/needs kid by whether or not they give me the side eye in a store or at the park.

  18. Deanna on January 10th, 2012 8:02 am

    totally off topic – what brand etc is that cute astronaut shirt?! I am looking for space/astronaut shirts for my nephew’s bday (his parents work for nasa).

    And on topic – My 2nd son is also more of a handful in so many ways (and more loving in some ways). I often have Overwhelming Guilt because I do not do as much fun solo stuff with him. I’ll be honest and say there is some resentment – I wish I could do a craft or experiment or take him somewhere without tactical prework & constant oversight and vigilance and it just seems sooo much harder with him. And #3 (the girl) is copying him in so many ways.

    I always ask my husband “do all kids do sh*t like this?!?” and a big thanks to you and your readers. Because I know the answer is yes!

  19. Mary on January 10th, 2012 8:42 am

    Oh, that’s funny. I think we had our Dylan first, so maybe next we’ll get a Riley-type?
    Speaking of which, I remember you writing about Dylan’s sleep issues and now I’m having the same thing with our 2+ year old. Did ANYTHING work? Or was it just time? And when did it get better? We’ve tried all the crap that everyone says to try–no dice. I’m so propping my eyeballs up with toothpicks over here. It’s making me crazy.

  20. Linda on January 10th, 2012 9:14 am

    Deanna: it’s an old Cherokee shirt, presumably from Target. Riley wore it too, so I guess we’ve had it for quite a while.

    Mary: ohhhhhhhhh man, I wish I had a great suggestion for you. Nothing really worked for us except time. :(

  21. adequatemom on January 10th, 2012 9:42 am

    My daughter is the same as Dylan!! A total delight, but also a total NUTBALL who refuses to be contained. I love to hear stories like this that remind me other kids can be like that too, because mostly I see other kids being so damn NORMAL.

    Love the pic! Completely awesome! <3

  22. Kami on January 10th, 2012 10:10 am

    Dylan is adorable. With that being said I want you to know I had heard good things about the wrinkle/blemish cream in your sidebar but had forgotten about it. To make a long story short I went on a rampage until I found it (4 stores later)..used it lastnight and I know it is soon BUT I may have found my miracle product. This seriously blows Philosophy’s help me out of the water. At 43 it’s a toss up do I fight the lines creeping in or the fucking acne which I never had before? Just wanted to say thank you for the reminder, love your product suggestions and knowing what other people love and what works! Try this stuff people it is AMAZING. Oh and how long have you been using it Linda?!

  23. Robin on January 10th, 2012 10:53 am

    Yup. The picture says it all.

  24. bj on January 10th, 2012 11:25 am

    We did take ours all over the world when they were young and they did do absolutely fine. Mind you, I’m guessing they’re really different from your kids. But I do also think that kids sometimes surprise you — and that not trying, in some form means you might end up limiting their lives and yours in ways they could manage if given the opportunity and practice.

    Mind you, I’m really not trying to tell you how to parent, so don’t take it that way. I think I’m taking the opportunity to express a bit of personal frustration at the (it seems to me) lower expectations some of my kid’s friends parents seem to have. I spend time with the kids, so, I’m not just comparing a different child to my own — I also see what they can do when I’m with them, and then see them revert when they’re with their parents (say, on remembering their coat, or putting on their own shoes).

  25. Lisa on January 10th, 2012 11:44 am

    It seems to me that the second child is always a surprise when your first was a mild fellow. My oldest wore out 101 Dalmations and Lion King. A commercial was too long for my second son. My oldest is not outside much. My second son is out the door as soon as possible. One is more academic and into theatre. The other is into woodworking, skateboarding, and NOT being in front of people. One is modest. The other is…NOT! Our third child is a girl. Whole new ball of wax with that too. Enjoy their uniqueness (when they are not tempting you to lose your shit!)

  26. Sunshyn on January 10th, 2012 11:53 am

    If I’d had my second child first, I never would have had another child! And as it was, I had them five years apart! I did go on, five years later, to have a daughter, but, boy, that Boy #2 really was a challenge!

  27. Sarah on January 10th, 2012 5:07 pm

    My boy is 3.5 and similar to Dylan. And we took him on a 20 hour plane trip (one way!) when he was a few days shy of 2. It was a hellish as it sounds. Suck sleeper, a bit manic in public now (he wasn’t always that way), just wirey as all get out. I wish doing “things” out in public with him were more fun but they aren’t. It’s a constant juggle to make sure he’s not maimed by inattention and that we get home with groceries. Not so good for my nerves.
    I’m sure you will find things for you to do with him that are unique to your relationship rather than just repeats of things you did with Riley. :)

  28. lisa on January 11th, 2012 12:17 am

    My two daughters are each a year younger than your boys, and: ditto. Every word you said.

  29. ASL on January 11th, 2012 9:03 am

    This, to me, is part of the gift of having at least two kids – particularly of the same gender, so there’s no temptation to attribute the differences to boy/girl stereotypes. It’s somehow freeing as a parent to realize just how little you actually have to do with their tendencies/personalities, you know? I mean, sure, help them learn how they as individuals need to interact with and navigate the world, but no need to think it’s all your fault if one has trouble sitting still or following directions, etc. We should neither take all the credit nor accept all the blame, and second kids SO help reinforce that lesson.

  30. Kate on January 11th, 2012 10:11 am

    I agree, #1 and #2 are never the same. I can never tell if its just them, or, because there is a sibling.

  31. Redbecca on January 11th, 2012 11:51 am

    Hmm sounds like “Raising Your Spirited Child” could be useful in Dylan’s case…LOVE the picture!

  32. Andrea on January 11th, 2012 4:23 pm

    man, I remember when you wrote about that trip to DC and thinking there is NO WAY in hell I’d be able to do that with my boy and I was soooo jealous! he’s a total Dylan, fo sho. but, now I’ve got my little girl and she’d be aces at flying and parking her chubby little butt in front of the tv for hours and I now I get it! Both are wonderful and infuriating in their own ways :)

  33. pdxhadey on January 12th, 2012 9:21 am

    I could have written this exact same post about my daughters. My 4 year old is so easy to haul around town, take to places that require patience or sitting still, but man… my 2 year old… there’s no earthly way I’d even take her to a movie, let alone a cross-country flight. I’m hoping with time she’ll settle down, but right now even a trip to Target is exhausting.

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