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Chalk and cheese


The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

We’re often asked how similar or different Frankie and Éamon are. Like I’ve said here before, they are very different. Frankie loves her sleep; Éamon is less pushed about the whole idea of staying down all night.
Éamon has been a rude awakening for us, quite literally. What could be ruder than being woken at 2am and again at 4am and perhaps a few times in between? But you suck it up and get on with it, realising how lucky you were with Frankie.
There was a while when Éamon was really hard work all day long. Crying for attention, struggling when you’d try to put him to sleep. Other family members have experienced it too.
So at a recent family Communion, one of the relations – who shall remain nameless – was asked by another guest what Frankie and Éamon were like.
“Well they are like chalk and cheese,” came the initial reply. So far, so good. No arguments there.
“Frankie is so good,” was the next line. We didn’t wait for the punchline. It wasn’t going to be a compliment for poor Éamon anyway.  But, to Éamon’s credit, he has improved considerably. He is much easier to get to sleep, much happier in himself during the day. He’s rolling around on his mat and able to sit up. Next up will be crawling.
Frankie, meanwhile, is becoming a little bit more difficult. She is going through what seems like a the toddler version of becoming a teenager.
Her emotions are taking over. Whereas before tears would be for basic enough reasons – falling, being sick, watching one of us drive away without her – the triggers are now becoming more varied.
The last evening she picked up three small balls in the sitting room and was delighted with herself to be able to hold them all at once. I threw another in her direction, playfully, to knock them, and succeeded. It did not go down well.
She started bawling, looked at me and said, ‘Daddy, why did you do that?’. The hurt in her eyes was obvious.
Tears can come at any stage and for any reason. She now has the language ability to make demands for what she wants, and she cannot quite believe that you don’t always get what you ask for in life.
Trying to reason with a two-and-a-half year old, talking calmly and clearly to them, telling them why they cannot always have what they want – well, it is quite challenging. Frankie is discovering life isn’t always fair. And we’re discovering that maybe they are not chalk and cheese after all.

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.