Want to blow your kid’s world away?
Bring home a sibling.
Nothing changes the family dynamics like a new little brother or sister. And everyone has heard the horror stories of the older sibling who now hates mommy and daddy because of that thing. A friend of mine told me her son didn’t speak to her for three days. When my baby brother was born, my grandma refused to tell me it was a boy in fear that I would turn my wrath towards her. (I just refused to learn his name for six months or so.) As we neared d-day of Tornado S, The Husband and I worried what Tornado E would do and tried to prepare.
First off, Tornado E was just under two. Do you know that two-year-olds don’t have a very good grasp of gentle? My first attempt of paving the way to a non-only-child-household was to buy Tornado E a baby doll to teach him gentle. Tornado E loved Bobby and readily practiced gentle.
Second, I bought a Big Brother Gift. Some experts say to have the gift be from the new baby; other experts say that your elder child(ren) will know a baby didn’t buy the gift so don’t insult the child(ren) with a lie. Seeing The Husband has a hard enough time letting Santa have all the glory, we just had the gift come from us.
Third, I stalk piled small gifts for Tornado E just in case people brought only gifts for the baby. Yeah, let’s start out an already rocky relationship with jealousy. Lucky for us, we didn’t need one of those gifts because our friends were so generous with Tornado E. The baby just got clothes; Tornado E got toys. Sweet. (I kept the gifts for birthday and Christmas.)
Fourth, we added Daddy time. The Husband now made it a point to take Tornado E to the park or some small adventure every week, starting during the last trimester. Tornado E was over the moon to go with just daddy.
Fifth, we made it a point to never say Tornado E couldn’t do something (like scream in the house during baby’s naptime) because of the baby.
Sixth, my mom came out for three weeks to help with the adjustment of Tornado S. She came in the day Tornado S was born, staying the night with Tornado E, making it a special treat. She let him help her decorate the house for the baby’s homecoming. She let him pick out flowers for mommy and a gift for the baby. She spent tons of time with him during those three weeks.
I’m not sure how we managed it really, but I waited for the other shoe to drop for months, waiting for Tornado E to start hating the baby, start hating me, start being angry and resentful. But it never happened. He adored Tornado S. The birth announcements were a picture of Tornado E holding Tornado S, beaming with pride. Tornado E didn’t begrudge Tornado S any time, any toy, any baby thing.
One day as I sat nursing Tornado S, Tornado E climbed on the couch next to me with Bobby. He pulled up his shirt, cradled Bobby in his arms, and started nursing Bobby. Yup, just like Mommy. I turned to my mom.
Me: Um, what do you think?
My Mom: (Trying not to laugh too hard) We should get him a baby doll bottle.
Me: Especially before The Husband sees this.
Now we can only hope that bringing home baby #3 will be just as easy.