When you have your first child, you feel, perhaps for the first time in your life, truly special. Everyone gives you that look, the sympathy look, the one which says “Nothing in your pampered, narcissistic life has prepared for this, has it. You poor fool. I’m rooting for you.”
When you’re second child arrives you notice a distinct drop off in sympathy. People are still understanding, but you have lost the element of victimhood. You knew what you were getting into. You didn’t learn.
When you have your third, the world’s sympathy is spent. Occasionally you get an expression of amazement, “I don’t know how you do it.” They shake their head. What they really mean is, “I don’t know why you did it.”.
My two year old son, being a fairly normal, healthy child, does all the normal psychotic things that two year olds do. He takes his shoes and socks off while you’re rushing around trying to get out of the house. He demands a particular food from you then hurls it on the floor because you took too long to get it. He performs the classic lying down protest, his favorite place for this is the supermarket, then when you finally manage to sling him over your shoulder he farts loudly in your ear and laughs hysterically, dropping the various items he has stolen off the shelves.
At the check out he snatches my wallet and hurls it across the floor, debit cards scattering. “You’re amazing.” A nice woman says as she touches my arm sympathetically. “I’ve been there. You’re amazingly calm. Don’t worry. It gets better.”
Its so long since I’ve had this kind of public sympathy, I nearly cry. I carefully don’t mention that I have two more at school. I’m enjoying the sympathy too much.