One of my nieces is going to have a baby girl. It’s their first child.
She and my nephew are so excited. We all are.
This kind of news sends many of us back in time to reflect on our own parenting experiences.
Our first-born was a girl, too. And she grew up into a wonderful young woman, strong and proud, in spite of the inevitable mistakes we made along the way.
As a first child and grandchild, she got a lot of attention.
Then, along came brother.
My husband and I kept a watchful eye as our daughter examined her new baby brother. We had read all of the books and articles about sibling rivalry. We had gotten advice from parents of multiple children.
“She’s gonna be jealous,” we were advised. “Better watch out!”
My mother was at the house when we brought baby brother home. We all sat on the enclosed porch since it was a beautiful spring day.
My mother asked her first grandchild, “So, how do you like your baby brother?”
My daughter looked at her for a full second. Without blinking, she held up her right index finger to my mom and announced, “I burnt my finger on the broccoli.”
My mom stared back at her, processing what she had just heard. With a short “ha,” she quickly put two and two together.
“Oh, poor baby! How did you do that? Does it feel better?”
My little daughter then went on to explain to her grandma the perils of microwave cooking and escaped steam.
She was happy to have Grandma’s full attention and sympathy.
The topic of baby brother was not revisited.
This is how we came to understand that our daughter would not be pinching or poking her baby brother.
Her methods would be much more sophisticated.
I’d say jealousy was not the problem between these two siblings. My daughter had much too much self-esteem for such a low emotion.
“Take him back,” she ordered me one day as I was helping her dress for pre-school.
It wasn’t a tearful or angry demand. It was matter-of-fact and firm.
I chuckled to myself.
“Well, honey, I can’t do that. Where would I take him back to, anyway?”
“To the ‘ospital.” (Mothers can be so obtuse sometimes, her inflection seemed to say.)
“He’s ours, he isn’t returnable.”
The look she threw my way was tell-tale. This kid is ruining all our fun, with his two naps a day, plus feeding, changing, crying and fussing.
But, after that, she resigned herself to the fact of her brother.
So what do you do with a circumstance you can’t change?
You make the most of it.
Or, as my mom would say, “You make your own fun.”
A few days later, after cleaning up breakfast and putting our son down for his morning nap, I noticed that things were unusually quiet.
Too quiet for a house with a couple of children under the age of three.
Had she finally reached her limit and done her brother in?
I quietly crept upstairs to investigate.
The second floor contained three bedrooms and a bathroom, all opening off a central hallway. It didn’t take long to find her.
The door of our son’s room was slightly open.
There, I spied my daughter busy at work. She had climbed into her brother’s crib.
I craned my neck trying to get a good view of what she was doing without alerting her to my being there.
She must have heard me, though, because she turned around.
It was then I saw what was in her hand – a full sheet of puppy stickers.
Well, I should say that she held what used to be a full sheet of stickers.
Because covering her brother from the top of his head to his sock-covered feet, were puppy stickers.
He looked like a living collage or some sort of performance art.
My observant and practical daughter had taken a lesson from her designing mother.
If you can’t get rid of something you don’t care for, try decorating it.