Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sibling Smackdowns

I was never one of these moms who had rosy visions of how much my toddler would love his new baby sister. I hear mothers who are expecting their second baby talk like this – “Oh, Annabelle just LOVES babies and she is so excited about having her own baby brother! – and I think "You, my friend, are in for a terrible surprise." I’ve always had tremendous sympathy for the plight of the older child who has to make room in his life and house and heart for a new sibling because from their perspective, for the beginning at least, its lose-lose. Babies don’t do jack except cry and eat and cry and both of those things take Mama away from First-born and First-born never wants Mama taken away from him. I get it, completely.

But at what point, dare I ask, at what point is First-born supposed to get over the trauma of having a sibling?

Because I am feeling like after 3 years, maybe Primo should get with the program.

He has been on an absolute Sec-hating rampage of late. She drives him totally up the wall. And look, I don’t blame him really. You’ve read of Seconda’s antics. These shenanigans, while frustrating and exhausting, have an inherent charm to grownups. She’s a precocious, adorable firecracker and adults can’t help but find that endearing. But for the big brother, her antics hold no charm whatsoever particularly because they take every ounce of attention away from him. I understand this and I sincerely sympathize. Nonetheless I am tired of asking, can’t we all just get along?

There’s the not-sharing problem in which even if Primo hasn’t played with something in years, he can not suffer Sec to even look at it.

There’s the mean-talking problem in which he teases her and calls her a “baby.” Calling a 3 year-old a baby is like calling a dieting woman a heifer. Too close to home. Sore topic.

Then there’s the ordering around. The ordering around actually works for a lot of sibling teams. Many 3 year-olds love nothing more than following the instructions of their big siblings, whom they look up to and adore.

Not so in this case. Sec won’t give an inch. Sec has her own ideas about everything and she’s not budging. So the ordering around turns into the mean-talking and then Sec, who’s not so adept at controlling herself, lets her fists do the talking, freeing up Primo to unleash his wild side and soon everyone’s appealing to me with “he did this” and “she did that” and “you’re lying” and “you’re a baby” and Mommy yelling, “CANT WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?”

I read Siblings Without Rivalry cover to cover, you know. But I think its time to re-visit.

What are your ways of dealing with the sibling smackdowns? Or better yet, your strategies to prevent them altogether? I hope it doesn’t include living in a house which is larger than 900 square feet because then I’m screwed.