Friday, November 12, 2010

Big Sister

I should have written this post a week ago. If I had, it would have said:

Everybody warned me that after you have a second baby, your first "baby" will suddenly look enormous. I had braced myself for this, so when she showed up at the hospital, I was expecting her to be huge. I was not expecting her to be so old. Suddenly, Valerie wasn't a baby, or even a toddler. She was a full-blown little girl.


And my little girl is the sweetest big sister I have ever seen. She is so gentle with Dorothy. All she wants to do is sit and hold her hand, or hold her on her lap and touch her face. She is so loving and gentle.


In fact, her transformation into a mature, responsible individual was so complete in my mind that one day, before Dorothy was even a week old, I started picking up some toys while Valerie was holding her, then I wandered off to the kitchen to do some dishes. Then I came to my senses and realized, um, Valerie is still only TWO. I can't leave her unattended with a newborn!


She really loves her baby sister. She doesn't seem to be jealous of the baby getting other peoples' attention. Rather, she is jealous of anyone else getting to hold the baby. One day, when her friend Moira was visiting, I let Moira hold Dorothy, and Valerie threw a fit. She kept trying to wedge in between them and pull the baby away from her friend. And this is where last week's post morphs into this week's post. And my angelic, perfect, little big sister becomes significantly less angelic.

Somehow, the gentle hand-holding became a squeeze, and I have had to pry her enormous two-year-old hands away from Dorothy's poor, little, squashed, red newborn hands on several occasions. Or she'll be sitting, quietly holding her sister on her lap when I notice that her head is pressed tightly against the baby's head, whose face is just starting to contort in tears. And don't even get me started on her inability to comprehend, "Don't touch the baby, she is sleeping!" (Or, if she does understand, her ability to circumvent that instruction by rocking the sleeping baby's little rocking chair violently enough to wake her, and then touch her, because hey, she's awake now!)


At first, it was mostly innocent. Trying to hug her too close, hold her hand too tight. Sometimes she gives her a toy that smacks her in the face or tries to feed her real food. But recently, she's shown more malevolent intent. In fact, she just finished a time-out for hitting her sister in the face.

I realize this is all normal sibling behavior. That doesn't make it any less frustrating. It's especially frustrating because, for two beautiful weeks, she was the model of a perfect older sibling. I think that's still in there, though. She's still a good big sister in her heart, she's just over-eager and impatient and more than a little jealous. I'm trying to make sure she gets my undivided attention for a stretch of time several times a day. Tubby time and bed time are both Valerie and Mommy or Daddy one-on-one time. But when you're used to nothing but one-on-one time, it can't be easy to make that switch. The honeymoon may be over, but the honeymoon is just the beginning of the marriage. And now, we're on to the dirty, daily task of being a family.



Julia said...

And Valerie has learned that Dorothy is not going away. She was novel and exciting at first but now she's not going anywhere and Valerie's life is still turned upside down.

I understand.

Sarah said...

I nodded when you wrote "normal but frustrating." Our son was the worst with this and he's also the one that stuggles the most with change and transitions.

It's a wonderful, stressful time for everyone when a new baby comes along : )

Congrats on such cute kids!

jd said...

It WILL get better! Hang in there, and give Valerie an extra hug from Grandma!

Jessie V. said...

I giggled through this. Fiery was so wonderful at first.. which was followed by innocently squashing Honor's face, which is now followed by pulling Honor off while he's in a cruise position or taking her full bottle and clunking him in the head with it. I understand :-)

sarah said...

Happened with my chickens as well. It's because she's still a baby, even if she doesn't seem like it. I know it's aggravating to you, but it was written with a lot of humor...I appreciated it!
And with the loss of sleep, too!