Posted by: mindyourknitting | March 16, 2011

Big Sister

We get asked a lot about how Abigail’s doing with Spencer’s existence (it’s usually put more eloquently than that, but that’s the gist).  Before we brought Spencer home we did worry that Abigail would go through a major adjustment period.  But, as usual, we picked exactly the wrong thing to worry about.   I do think some of the “terrible twos” behaviours that she’s specializing in lately may be a reaction to the changes in our home, but she has never once directed any jealousy or aggression towards Spencer.  Just the opposite, in fact.  She is very gentle with “my baby Spencer,” or “Buddy” as she calls him.  We sometimes have to remind her to be gentle with him when she’s bouncing around with legs and arms flying a little too close to his head, or when she wants to give him a “biiiiiiiig puuuuuuuush” in his swing (see illustration below, it’s a little terrifying when she does it – see his hedgehog hair standing straight up?) but overall that part of our transition to a family of four has been painless. 

Like most little girls, she acts like a little mama and wants to help.  Abigail’s favourite thing to help with is to give Spencer a bath.  One of the first times she saw Spencer in the tub she noticed that his boy bits are different from her girl bits.  Now, I firmly believe in teaching children the correct anatomical names for their body parts, even if it means having a daughter who will be the only kid in kindergarten calling a vulva a vulva.  So when I told her that his boy parts were called a penis and testicles, she took it in, processed it in her little brain, and now cannot be convinced that I didn’t say they were “a penis and icicles.”  Close enough, I suppose.

Two kids are definitely more than twice the work of one, but I think a lot of that has to do with the stage Abigail is at, which is “two-and-a-half-holy-hell.”  She’s   kind of tough right now –  she challenges us, says “no” a lot, and doesn’t really listen all that well.  I joke that I only have two methods of discipline – bribe and threat – but it’s kind of true.  That’s all she responds to, either getting a reward or having something taken away as a consequence to her behaviour, good or bad.  They really are primal little animals at this age, aren’t they?  We’ve tried time outs, but they don’t really work since sometimes she’ll tell us she needs one just for the hell of it (dont’ we all?)   And we started potty-training last weekend, so we’ve introduced another element that is arduous (but going well, despite the increase in laundry) for us all. 

But despite the challenges, she is also the most fun she’s ever been, and she’s wicked smart.  (I know every parent says that, but in this case it’s true).  She’s got an impressive vocab, knows her letters, numbers, is an ace at drawing faces,  has a large repertoire of songs and dances, and even has a couple of knock-knock jokes up her sleeve.

In an effort to give me a couple of hours a week of time with just the baby, and to get her into a program with other kids where she can learn to listen to an adult who’s not a family member and also to help her gain confidence and autonomy (although I’m sceptical that she needs help with those), we enrolled Abigail into a nursery school program on Monday mornings.  So far she likes it (and I love it,  except that between Family Day, a snow day, and March Break, we’re paying for an awful lot of cancelled days, ugh).  But I think we both need this, and it’s going to be great for her in the long-run.  So we pack her little backpack and drop her off once a week.

I can’t entertain her all day every day and still take care of Spencer and keep my sanity, so this works out pretty well.  It breaks for the summer (Nooooooo!) but we’ve enrolled her again for two mornings a week in September and we also have her in gymnastics on the weekend, to be followed by soccer later in the spring, so I think that’s enough for one toddler’s schedule.  And we keep busy most days with play dates, playgroups, errands, visits to grandparents, walks outside on the aberrant day when it’s warm enough to venture outside (seriously, Spring, any day now…), and anything else I can think of to occupy our days.  This might get tougher as Spencer gets older and less portable (i.e. less happy to hang out in a bucket carseat or get strapped to me in an infant carrier) but we’ll manage.  I still can’t believe how big she is, so I’m trying just relax and enjoy the luxury of getting to spend a whole second year being home with her as well as Spencer.  It’s not all rose-coloured, and some days are just plain exhuasting, but that will abate a bit as Spencer gets older and sleeps more at night, and it certainly beats being at work when they’re so little.

 I am an only child, so I have no experience with what it’s like to have a brother or sister.  And when I found out we were having a boy, I briefly thought that it was too bad Abigail wouldn’t have a sister to grow up with (don’t ask me why I thought this – as I said, I have no siblings so what the hell do I know?), but I see how she is already bonding with Spencer and think that it’s going to be a wonderful thing to watch them grow up together, and that she can teach him so much.  She’s a kick-ass big sister.

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Responses

  1. You know having a younger brother is really cool (says a big sis to a younger bro). Lots of different toys to play with that you maybe wouldn’t see if it was all girls, less competition as you’re not after the same friends in general, and there is already a clear difference so you don’t have to find something ‘different’ to stake your personality on. Hang in there- there will be more people around to give distractions soon 🙂

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this Trista. It makes me feel so much better that you are experiencing everything I am with Matteo (the terrible two stage) and I also feel better knowing someone else has two methods (bribe and threat) with their 2 year old. Matteo too is not jealous of Nico and quite the opposite but he is definitely pushing boundaries lately a lot more which is quite exhausting to be frank.

    Thanks again..good to know I am “normal”


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