I grew up with one brother. When my mum was pregnant with him she and my dad gave me the choice of a puppy or a baby brother or sister.
I chose the puppy.
I didn’t get it.
My second choice was a baby sister.
No luck there either.
I got the baby brother.
Not one of my first two choices.
There were just over seven years between us. We had nothing in common. We went through our lives at different stages and were treated very differently as of course, our ages and abilities were very different.
The biggest gap between our children is between the two girls, Stephanie and Caitlin at 5 years and 4 months. The smallest is between children five and six, Eddie and Sid, at less than a year. Again, I noticed the same issues as I experienced first hand when I was younger. Ben and Stephanie were fourteen months apart. They were best friends and worst enemies. Always playing together yet an argument was never far behind. When Caitlin came along they loved her as their baby sister but she wasn’t at the same stage of being able to join in the games or the things that they were interested in. The differences were more noticeable and so the restrictions were more apparent.
After Caitlin came six boys in a row who now range from 11 months up to 8 years. Yes, six boys stair stepping down over a seven year period. The largest gap between any two of them is 22 months. Many people recoil in horror at having so many children so closely spaced but me, I prefer it.
Between each brother and the next there is more in common. There isn’t very much the eight year old can do that the six year old can’t and virtually nothing between the six and the five year old’s abilities. And even though the two year old can’t keep up with the five, six and eight year olds as much, there is the link between them of the four year old who is almost able to keep up with the five year old yet not quite miles away skillswise from the two year old. So they all link up together nicely, each bringing their own talent, skills and ways to the table.
This also helps each of them deal with others of different ages and abilities. They become aware that not everybody has the same physical dexterity or logical way of thinking or doing something. They learn that the two year old might not be able to build a complex structure from K’nex but he’s very able and keen to show off his row of cars in size order which he made all by himself.
So while there may be several children, all very young and all very close together in age, I actually find it easier this way than I did with the three older ones, when the older two were so developmentally different than the third and with such an obvious gap in between.
Are bigger or smaller gaps better? How long is a piece of string? Everyone will have a different opinion on this and I am keen to know yours.