I can’t say I am surprised, or that I wasn’t warned.
When we took Oren to the pediatrician for his first doctor’s visit, his kind doctor asked us how Em was dealing with the baby’s arrival. C and I answered that she seemed to be doing surprisingly well, with just a few signs of anxiety here and there.
The pediatrician looked at us with sympathy and told us that it was going to get worse, and probably quite a bit worse, in the coming weeks.
Since that appointment, Emmy has done her job proving that our pediatrician is indeed a wise woman. During our second week home from the hospital, Em developed an urgent need to be held and hugged by whomever happened to be holding (or nursing) her baby brother. During our third week home from the hospital, Em rather suddenly decided she hates school and wants to stay home with us all the time (which has made the mornings around here just DELIGHTFUL). And this past week she became afraid of the dark and pitched a huge fit when we tried to turn the lights off in her bedroom at night-night time (something we have done without any resistance for the past twenty six months).
Photo courtesy the author.
Yesterday, when I picked Em up from daycare, she asked where her baby brother was. I told her that baby brother was at Baba and Grampy’s, and that we would be going to pick him up before heading home. Em then asked if it might be possible to instead LEAVE baby brother at Baba and Grampy’s… like, FOREVER.
I told Em that we couldn’t leave Oren at their grandparents’ house, and asked why she didn’t want to pick him up. Em told me she was scared of the baby. I asked what was scary about the baby, and Em said the baby made a lot of noise. She’s not wrong. The baby doesn’t cry ALL that often, but he does grunt and groan and make his presence known in lots of other semi-noisy ways. And when he DOES cry, he doesn’t hold back.
Poor Em. My heart really goes out to her. Her whole world has changed. She used to be able to command 100% of our attention with her cute little songs and dances. Now she has to compete with a brother who cries often, nurses even more often, and poops pretty much constantly.
To be honest, I had little hope that I would be able to make Em feel better about the situation, or that I would be able to offer any words that would comfort her two-year-old brain and heart. But I told her that right now, baby brother is a baby, and he isn’t much fun for her because he can’t walk and he can’t talk and he can’t play with toys. BUT if we are patient, and we wait for baby Oren to get to be bigger, he will be lots of fun, and he WILL be able to walk and talk and play games with us.
You know what? Emmy GOT it. She started asking questions that followed this line of logic, like “when baby brother is big, we can take him to the waterfalls?” and “when baby brother is big, he can eat pizza too?” and “we can take baby brother on a choo choo train when he is big?”
Yes, Emmy. YES. If we are patient, and if we can get through these first kind of crazy chapter together, we will be able to do all of those things together, and it will be so wonderful.
Parenting with imagination. Or at least trying.
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