Sunday, August 21, 2011

Big Sister, Baby Brother

One reason I wanted to have another child is so I could double my multilingual research pool watch and try to foster a sibling relationship up close. Siblings add a whole new dimension and challenge to life - and parenting - that I wouldn't want us to miss out on.

I knew K would love Baby Boy, but I am still caught off guard by the strength of this sibling relationship even before he is born.

She includes him in all our family portraits - sometimes inside me, and sometimes outside. Sometimes more than once.

She daydreams about what they will do together when he is born. Most of her plans are actually realistic, since I've made sure to warn her that babies don't do much but eat, sleep and cry when they're first born. She wants to change his diapers, push his stroller, hold him (all acceptable), and also sleep with him in her bed and nurse him (not very feasible). She also rigged herself a baby wrap from an old scarf and I certainly hope she doesn't expect to carry the actual baby in that...

What surprised me a little more, though, is how she has conversations with the baby - performing both sides of the conversation herself (and sometimes using the results against me). For example, this past week, at bedtime:

"Mommy, please lay down in my bed with me. (persuasively) My bed is reeeeeally comfortable."
"No, sweetie, I have to go back into the living room while you go to bed."
"Because the baby wants to go to the living room?"
"Um, yes."
"(to my belly) Baby, do you want to go to the living room? (high-pitched voice) No, K, I want to stay here with you. (normal voice) See, he wants to stay with me."

So I, of course, did the only thing I could do in the circumstances: I plucked an invisible baby out of my tummy and handed him to K, telling her to take care of her brother. She put him on the pillow next to her and I left the room.

Or yesterday, when K and Apo were on their way to the store and then the zoo, K wanted to take the baby with them. I plucked him out of my tummy again and let him go with her. When they got back from the store, I asked if she still had him, and she held up a plastic bag clenched tightly in her fist, saying, "Yes, he's in here! He had a lot of fun at the store. But now he's too tired to go to the zoo, so he can stay with you." (Probably a good thing, too, if she was keeping him in a closed plastic bag.)

Their interactions are sometimes very sibling-like, too: A few weeks ago I was hugging K so that she was partially pressed up against my stomach. When she moved away, the baby kicked hard, and I told her so: "The baby just kicked, because you were squishing him!" The next day, when she was listing all the wrongs done to her recently (over-tired and annoyed), she said:

"...AND I don't like the baby."
"What did the baby do to you??"
"He kicked me! That not nice!"
"Well, you were squishing him, after all..."

Sibling rivalry. In utero. Oh my. :)

And then sometimes I have to provide the baby's voice in their conversations:

K: "Good night, Mama."
Me: "Good night, K."
K: "Good night, baby, I love you." (kisses stomach)
Me, squeaky voice: "Good night, K!"

Obviously K doesn't feel that being divided by a few inches of mama's belly is any significant impediment. Of course, their "relationship" is all very theoretical still, since the baby IS still inside (and due in large part to K's active imagination and pretend play), but it is still a bit more intense than I had expected at this stage!

1 comment:

  1. Suzanne did some of the same things when Max was in utero. She used to draw me with a baby in my tummy and would imagine him (a prince of course) when he was born. The bond has only gotten stronger, for better or for worse.



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