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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Second (Class) Child

As much as I know intuitively that I love both Aiden and Ava the same with all my heart, I have to admit that I conscientiously treat Aiden better than his baby sister, Ava.

From toys, to our attention, to play time, to even exposure on social media, Ava gets significantly less. If she could talk and walk at 10 months old now, I’m pretty sure she would be heading straight for the Immigration Department to file a complaint for being treated as a second class citizen in the House of Yang. I don’t think I would get re-elected into office with a clear mandate if snap elections were to be called.

Daddy is truly sorry, my dear Ava.

I feel like I have no choice, after considering the psychological impact that Ava’s arrival had and would have on Aiden. He is the gentle giant of the family, tough on the outside but extremely delicate on the inside. A bit like that awesome biscuit at Popeye’s, but I digressed. At 3 and a half years old, he is not yet able to accept that he is not the centre of the universe, let alone sharing that universe with the latest sweet young thing emerging from seemingly nowhere (or Thomson Hospital if he was paying attention). It’s not a populist move, but it is one difficult decision that was made after careful and robust discussion in Parliament (i.e with Cheryl).

We try to tell ourselves that it is ok as Ava would be too young to know that we are treating her differently from Aiden. Many parents also share that it is very common to neglect the second child. But with each passing day, she is becoming more and more aware. A couple of months ago, she started crying or fussing about whenever I tried to carry her. Once her favourite Ah Gong is out of sight, the insecurity sets in. It was heart breaking for me.

To mend our budding relationship, there was only one way - more time and attention. Luckily, whatever time that I could squeeze in between work, PriviKids, Aiden and Cheryl in the last month or so, it is starting to work. Ava now doesn’t reject me and smiles ever so sweetly when I look at her or when I play with her. Just in time for me to notice that her first two teeth have sprouted.

Aiden is also beginning to genuinely accept that Ava is a big part of our lives as well, bringing her toys to her so that she can play with it (albeit to stop her from grabbing his toys instead), and insisting at one time that he wants to marry Ava when he grows up. However, he continues to rough with her.

Perhaps both Aiden and myself need to learn to how to behave properly when a new baby arrives. It’s not the most natural thing, but it is a lesson that we need to learn fast. Preferably before she finds out the directions to the Immigration Department.


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