Posted by: DD | June 23, 2008

THE FIRST RELATIONSHIP

I frequently get asked if XBoy is excited about his impending initiation into siblinghood. I always respond with, “I guess….” I mean it’s not as if he’s asking me every time he sees me when the baby’s going to be here, or has he completely ignored me for the past couple of months.

I’ll first admit I am very glad we waited until we did to tell him. 18 weeks was neither too soon nor too late. At six years old, he grasps more of the concept than I expected plus he does not dwell persistently on the baby (like I do). He will sit with me during shows like “Delivery Me” and compare me to those women. I use those shows more to educate him on how the baby is going to look and especially those with c-sections. It’s funny then, that when he does talk about the day the baby is ready that I’m “going to be in a lot of pain. It’s going to hurt a lot, isn’t it?” Yep, thanks for the reminder, XBoy. I suppose it serves me right considering his recent painful medical experiences.

However, for every 100 positive moments and comments (like how he wants the baby in his room or how he’s going to teach the baby to talk and walk), there are one or two moments that remind me that bringing home a new sibling is never a smooth transition for anyone in the family.

Several weeks ago, XBoy and I were arguing in the car. A typical, “I want this!” versus “You aren’t getting that!” exchange (oh, how I envy you ladies who fret over your baby’s or toddler’s tantrums, because I’m telling you now, you’ll be praying for those days in a few years). The back and forth went on until XBoy pulled out all stops and said something to me that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end and veer into the first driveway to have it out with him face-to-face.

XBoy knew he had overstepped that boundary. It’s no different than when a couple gets into such a heated exchange that eventually someone says, “You’re terrible in bed!” or “I wish I’d never had met you!” Those are words vomited out in helpless fury. A last chance to wound when in all likelihood the words aren’t even close to the truth. I won’t share what he said to me, but even now that all has been forgiven, they are certainly not forgotten.

More recently we were going ’round and ’round about something else and he stomped off in a huff to escape to our bedroom. I happen to look over my shoulder and saw him pick up the scissors that were used to open the box of my just delivered playard and head to where it was set up, scissors extended to the fabric. I let out a shout and he jumped a mile. I called him over at which time he dropped the scissors and skulked out.

“What were you going to do with those scissors?!”

“Nothing! I was just going to lift the edge of the fabric with them.”

This led to a rather deep but brief talk (children this age have the attention span of a teenager, or even possibly a henpecked husband and talk too much and it all starts to sound like “blah, blah, blah” to them) about how we all will face some difficult changes when the baby comes, but that he will never have to worry about me loving him less, I will just have twice as much love to give.

Later when I told Mr. DD, he asked me if I ever question my parenting abilities.

Every damn moment of the day.

XBoy initiated us painlessly into parenting. He was an easy baby. He’s been nothing less than typical now that he’s six. We worry about how we are doing just because neither of us has something to compare to. But it just takes observing another parent and their similarly aged child to know that XBoy’s flightiness, belligerence, goofiness and streak of independence is completely par for the course.

That’s why I also know his rare displays of antagonism to the baby are normal ways for an only child of six-plus years to act out his jealousy, an emotion he’s never had to experience before when it came to his own Mom and Dad. Not only is the emotion raw and new to him, but he somehow has to deal with something that actually doesn’t even exist yet. The baby’s physical manifestation is currently nothing more than my changing shape, a bassinet and some baby clothes…basically a ghost or a mirage.<

Ultimately I know that XBoy will meet and exceed our expectations as the big brother. As I told my husband as we discussed our concerns, XBoy has a good heart. A good soul. During the many moments I freak myself out (jeezusbabiesarereallyfuckingsmall!), I do feel some sense of calm when I am reminded by the little things like XBoy picking up things for me when I drop them or bringing me his less favored baby blankets and extra lovies to give to the baby, that will remind me that we did this once completely clueless, we can certainly do it again.

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Responses

  1. So what did he say that made your hair stand on end??? Don’t keep me wondering!!
    Karen

  2. Sorry, but not sharing what he said. I’m protecting him from being judged.

  3. My son was five when I brought his baby brother home. They were absolutely fine. In the beginning they ignored each other. Now that David is almost two he thinks Alex hung the moon and what big brother wouldn’t love that?

  4. I’m sure X-boy is as excited and nervous as you are and I bet he felt horrible for the hurtful words that he didn’t really mean. Bringing home a new sibling is always an big adjustment. He may have a few rough times of resenting the new little bugger, but one day he’ll realize that they are able to gang up on you to get what they want and then the true sibling bonding will begin!

  5. I completely brainwashed son1 when son2 was on the way telling him that I couldn’t possibly take care of a baby without his help. By the time son2 came along, son1 was telling ME how to take care of him. WE read to the baby, WE changed him and on and on. I never pushed just accepted and thanked and it worked out great. Of course, now they are teenagers and are both a pain in the ass.

  6. I was too young to remember my sister being born, we were quickfire-in-succession unplanned siblings (the irony since neither of us can actually GET pregnant without medical intervention) followed by an even more quickfire divorce.

    But I do remember just how much we fought. My goodness, but we were vile at times.

    J

  7. My two are 6 years apart and there are times the age gap is fabulous. Then there are times it sucks. But I truly think that can be said for any age gap.
    There were definitely deep moments of jealousy, but I always told T that those feelings were completely normal and there was nothing wrong with them at all.
    I also told her, in the beginning when the baby was new, that if she ever felt she needed more attention from us, rather than wait until she is frustrated, she could simply tell us she needed attention- and that worked really well.
    Lastly, DH and I would switch off Sundays of taking her out to breakfast by herself to give her that one on one time. We don’t do that anymore, but she still gets that one-on-one time every evening as she has a later bedtime than her sister.
    Anyway, it will all work out, as you know, of course. I guess I just felt like writing a novel 🙂

  8. DD, it sounds like you’re doing it the right way. It’s never an easy transition but, for you to tell him frequently how much you love him now/will love him still sounds perfect to me.

    You rock, Momma.

  9. The transition is rough, I won’t lie. But you’re approaching things with eyes wide open and lots of thoughtful preparation, so you’ll be ready to help him through it. One thing a friend had warned me about was that the roughest part for the older sibling often starts when the new baby is around 6-12 weeks old. The newness of it all wears off, the sleep deprivation is really getting to everyone, and the baby is at around the peak of fussiness while at the same time becoming more social in a way that’s really appealing to all the adults. I’d say the worst of it was from when my youngest was around 2 months until she was around 8 months. We’ve had secondary rough patches since then, usually surrounding milestones for the younger one or times of anxiety from other sources for the older one, but they’re nothing like that initial break in period.

    You can do it, though DD! You’ve been getting ready for this for years and you’re well prepared.

  10. I actually found the transition easier than I expected. I think I’d worried about it so much that it couldn’t possibly be as bad as I thought!! Of course, I’m dealing with a smaller age difference, but still… Good luck. And yes, they sure seem tiny when you’re used to the older sibling!! Newborn diapers crack me up.

  11. I am so sorry for the verbal spill. X is a sensitive little guy. He’ll take time to adjust.

    I remember once telling my then husband, “I’d rather be single 11 times out of 10.” Jeez, I wish I’d taken my own advice sooner!


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