Baby Matthew turns 1 today, but you wouldn’t know it in the Dennis household.
There’s been little preparation. As of Thursday afternoon, we have yet to purchase a gift, do not have the ingredients for his cake and haven’t even picked out his special birthday outfit.
Being the third child, Matthew has experienced much more laid back parents than his older brothers did in their first year. And that relaxed state has grown with each child.
For instance, seven years ago, the first time Jaydon took a fall and bumped his head, we rushed him to the emergency room. Three years ago after Jackson’s first fall, we called the 24-hour pediatric helpline for advice. For Matthew’s first fall, a little cuddling was the cure.
Before we gave baby Jaydon his bottle, we would make sure it was the proper temperature by using a bottle warmer. For baby Jackson, it was running it under hot water. Baby Matthew gets the bottle right of the refrigerator.
When Jaydon dropped a food item on the floor, we immediately threw it away to avoid germs. For Jackson, we followed the “15 second rule” — if it’s been on the floor for less than 15 seconds, it somehow was not contaminated). With Matthew, that has been extended to the “15-hour rule,” or essentially, if we recognize what meal it was from and it was within the current day, it’s safe to eat.
At shopping trips, we had a cart protector for baby Jaydon. For baby Jackson, a simple Clorox wipe of the bar and seat was adequate. Now, we just plop baby Matthew in the cart.
When Jaydon fussed in his crib, we immediately came to his rescue. For Jackson, we waited a few seconds to see if he would calm himself down. If Matthew is fed and clean, it will take some sustained crying for mom or dad to visit the crib.
And for Jaydon’s first birthday, we held a birthday party with all his baby friends. Jackson’s first birthday was a more intimate affair at our home, but he was still showered with gifts. And baby Matthew, well, we’re just hoping to have a cake ready and a savings bond ordered.
We’ve thought about our seeming neglect of protecting Matthew, and at times have felt guilty. But ironically, of our three sons, Matthew has been the happiest and healthiest baby in his first year. Or maybe it just seems that way, because we’re not so obsessed about protecting him from every conceivable germ, physical bump and emotional bruise, and truly letting him be a baby.