Sunday, March 22, 2009

Big brother - the good kind

Danny has surprised us in adjusting to his sister. We had expected a little jealousy; we've seen only engagement, concern and love. When she cries, he urges someone, anyone to hold her, and has even said he'd like to hold her. When she's fussy, he rushes over to entertain her. Fiona responds with smirks and smiling eyes. This weekend, he told Nana "Baby Ona all gone." He missed her while he was at their house. And as his Nana did a nursery rhyme with Fiona, he looked on not with jealousy but with gleeful anticipation because he knew how the silly rhyme ended.

Part of our strategy has always been to have little to no strategy. Moment-to-moment assessments usually guide our approach. During the pregnancy, we kept the "new baby" talk pretty low key. There were no serious talks about babies; after all, he's just 2. We read him the Mr. Rogers' new baby book, but Dan isn't really a sit-down-and-read kind of kid. And the book introduced concepts like feeling jealous or neglected. Sometimes telling a person how they might feel makes them more likely to feel that way. Detecting and explaining these feelings in the moment seemed like a better approach for our son.

When the belly got bigger, we told him the baby was in there. He then tried to put a toy up my shirt for the baby. He put his ear to my belly and would listen to the Doppler when the midwife came. In the last weeks of the pregnancy, he pointed to the midwife and say "Baby." Then, when Fiona's car seat appeared in the van, we told him that one day soon, the baby would be sitting next to him. He just giggled. Interestingly enough, the night before I went into labor, he sat playing on the floor, chanting "Come out, baby, come out." Funny how kids just know. What he also seemed to know was how babies come out ... he repeatedly slid one of his Little People into the neck of a wide-mouth funnel. Hmmm.

This evening, as I finished up dinner, Danny showed me a little plastic bowling ball perched on his thumb. A few minutes later, that ball was next to Fiona in her swing. I smiled. He shared; it came from his heart, not because we asked it of him.

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