Otto the Impossible

Were the girls like this or did I block it out? Is my PTSD from raising 2 babies born 3 months apart (14 weeks and 3 days to be exact) protecting my fragile psyche from the memories of what that was like? Or were my girl babies just very, very, distinctly, undeniably different than my son? Those of you with children of different genders, can you chime in here now? Are girls so different from boys or is this just a matter of gender-neutral personalities? And frankly, does it matter? I’m stuck with the 3 of them, so why ask questions now?

Alas, I’m only half joking. I love, love, love all 3 of my kids. But when we were waiting for Otto, my husband expressed outright fear: what if he’s like those boy children we see? You know, the ones that run screaming through public buildings, jumping off playground equipment, wrestling each other in the dirt, using everything from plastic straws to hairbrushes as swords?

And then I pointed to Zoe and asked, so what’s the difference? Can a boy really be any worse than that? (At the time she had developed this obsession with jumping down entire staircases.) When Zoe was a toddler, I would routinely snap photos of the blood-stained towels around our house, collecting them for the day I would demand repayment for the years that child had stolen from my life.

Then again, Zoe could be kept still by strapping her into a stroller and handing her a brownie. Otto? Not so much.

I promised to explain the broken tooth. So I will. It’s not actually a very exciting story. There was a small child and a tile floor. I heard screaming (Open airway!! Spontaneous breathing!!) but saw no blood. And later we noticed part of his front top tooth was broken off. Dr. Zibners obviously whipped into gear, ascertaining that this was an Ellis I-type fracture—involving only enamel—and therefore wouldn’t require any treatment. The tooth was stable, not loose or out of place. I mean, what’s a mom to do? (Other than make constant comments about how ridiculous he looks? My son, the hillbilly. Anyhoo). For those of you also parenting children with no sense of self-preservation, teeth can be fractured (broken), intruded (pushed in), subluxed (out of place), and extruded (knocked out). What needs to be done depends on what type of injury and whether the tooth is missing or not. The key is to not panic. Unless you have family photos scheduled soon. Seriously, any doubt, just give your pediatrician or family dentist a call. For the most part, only teeth that might fall into or already are sitting in the lungs are a true urgency.

But back to Otto. The child intent on self-destruction. A few days after the tooth incident, he was found sitting on top of the kitchen counter. No. I’m not joking. He’s 15 months old.

What else is different? Well, to start with, he’s 15 months old (did I mention that?) and he doesn’t say a single word. He just shrieks like a gibbon. I will go into more of that soon. Should I be worried? Isn’t it about time the kid learn to use some words? Probably, but let’s stay on track. In addition to not communicating, he cannot, under any circumstances, stay seated. Okay that’s a lie. He will sit in the highchair for the 30 to 90 seconds it takes for him to shovel food in his mouth. And then he’s off.

So tell me, is it me or are boys different from girls? The small sampling of other parents I’ve been asking tell me yes, but in ways that are as glorious as they are frustrating. Presumably there will be fewer mind games in the future. Less manipulation. No weeping over imaginary love gone wrong.

But for now, I’m one exhausted lady, running after the kid with half a tooth who is hell-bent on knocking out the rest of them. Oh, crap. Gotta go. Otto, nein!