We are in a phase of adaptation. My youngest son doesn’t know what to do with himself, now that his older brother goes to school every day. He spends the days moping around the house, calling his brother’s name. The school is directly across the street, so whenever we go outside he tries to run away to find his brother. He eventually calms down, but only until we leave to go somewhere else, and then he gets very agitated all over again. It’s adorable, yet heartbreaking. They’ve never really been apart before, so this is a big adjustment for the littlest guy.
It’s a change for me, too. Most days I don’t know what to do with a twenty-two-month-old toddler. I’ve become used to hanging out with an older child who chatters nonstop and has strong opinions on everything. (Sound familiar?) The little one, by contrast, is subdued. He repeats words and sings little songs, but, for the most part, the house is quiet. Sometimes I catch him staring at me, waiting expectantly for me to come up with something interesting, but I fear I’ve forgotten what toddlers like to do.
Slowly and gradually, we’re returning to my former speed of life, from before he was born. We go on walks together, hand in hand, through the neighbourhood, with no purpose other than to get fresh air and stretch our legs. That’s what I used to do with his brother, before life became so busy that all our outings were meant to accomplish something. We stop and watch birds, pick up leaves, give futile chase to squirrels, say hello to neighbours. He is inquisitive, absorbing everything he sees, and I think he enjoys it, except for the occasional lament for his brother who’s not there.
When the older one comes home from school, it’s a joyful reunion. They play together nicely because they’re both genuinely happy to see each other. I’ve also noticed a new protectiveness appearing in the older one. He’s eager to help and ‘parent’ his brother, such as carrying him around the house — “Look, he’s like a sack of potatoes!” – or encouraging him to eat all his dinner so he can have some dessert – “Mama, he loves beans and carrots so much, I think he wants them all the time.” (Somehow I think not.)
I thought having one kid at home would mean more free time for myself, but it’s the opposite. He has yet to learn how to entertain himself, since he’s never had to do it before, and prefers to cling and pester at my legs whenever I’m trying to write. Oh well, no doubt we’ll find our new rhythm before too long.
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