My older son has been usurped from his role as King Baby by the arrival of his brother. Now there’s another force to contend with in the family, albeit a very gentle and quiet one, but I can tell he’s still feeling a bit lost. At times it concerns me. I feel guilty about not being able to give him the attention I used to, but then I figure that most of us have been through it at some point in life. Apparently I was traumatized by my sister’s birth and proceeded to whack, pinch, and bite her at any opportunity. She still carries the scars and I have a chunk missing from my ear from the time she retaliated fiercely. Months passed before our parents could leave me alone in the same room as her… but now we’re friends, so don’t worry! It passes!
Thankfully I don’t have that problem with my boys (yet!), though I won’t leave them alone either. Instead, I’m dealing with the older one’s zeal for “helping Mommy,” which usually translates into more work for me. Take, for example, bath time with the baby. After somehow holding and washing the slippery infant with one hand and fending off the toddler’s octopus hands and bath toys with the other (“The baby does not want the rubber duck in his face!”), I manage to get the baby wrapped up in a towel. The toddler asks, “Can I please play in the water?” I sigh, knowing there will be splashed water all over the place, but say yes. It’s a tiny plastic tub; nothing too bad can happen. I go upstairs, dress the baby, and come back down. This is what I see (Fig. 1)!
Now, please note the pair of socks that he carefully removed and placed beside the shower. When I walked into the bathroom and gave him that oh-no-you-didn’t! look, he politely said, “Can I please have some dry socks?” He must have gotten his socks wet and decided nothing else mattered. He might as well go for a swim!
I find him wriggling into awkward places, (Fig. 2), trying to imitate the baby’s sounds, and constantly, constantly, sticking his own face into the baby’s. He can’t keep his hands off him. He’s tried to feed him almonds (just about gave me a heart attack) and toast. After prolonged discussions about the baby’s inability to eat food, he seemed to get it. “The baby drinks booby milk!” he hollered in the coffee shop, after overhearing his dad say something along those lines. I was horrified. This is a small town, folks!
So yesterday he called me in a panic. “The baby’s eating food! Don’t eat food!” I came running. The baby had found his hand and was gnawing away with gusto. I then tried my best to explain that hands are not equivalent to food when it comes to choking hazards, but who knows how much he got from that conversation. At least he’s on the lookout!