I’m celebrating: it looks as though The Boy is finally acknowledging his little sister as a possible comrade as opposed to just a nuisance and a competitor. It only took 8 months! And this change in outlook is making my life so much easier.
When I was young (and that there is a loaded phrase as the big 40 looms ever closer!) I had an idyllic picture of my perfect family unit and lifestyle: soul mate husband, two children (older boy, younger girl), all blissfully happy in our seaside home, fulfilled in our stress-free jobs and with no money worries. If this was written as a check list, I’d be doing pretty well ticking them off. The seaside home (with a huge family kitchen where we would spend most of our time) remains a pipe dream. But our jobs are fulfilling (albeit stressful a lot of the time) and with my hubby and children I have hit the jackpot!
In my daydreams, brother and sister would get along together really well and growing up would become close, with big brother looking out for little sister as per the stereotype.
The Boy has always had a very caring side to his character. For example, he adores his cat and loves to look after him, stroking him, playing with him and putting his dinner out. He was interested in my bump during my pregnancy and enjoyed reading the books preparing him for the big change. He would proudly tell anyone who showed interest that he was going to be a big brother and that in Mummy’s tummy was his baby sister.
My own mum tells me that when my brother was born when I was 2½, I immediately adored him and wanted to ‘help’ or cuddle him all the time. When this wasn’t possible, I would feed my baby doll milk as mum fed him and so on. So I assumed that, particularly if encouraged to do so, The Boy would act in a similar way, thus proving that gender-based stereotypical behaviour is largely a product of society’s expectations. I also anticipated that he would constantly want to hug and kiss her, just as he does with us.
Neither of these things happened.
I do have adorable footage of The Boy on our doorstep grinning from ear to ear when he was dropped back home by Grandma as soon as we returned from hospital. “My baby sister!” he replied excitedly when I asked who was in the living room. He even bent down to kiss her. I wish now that I’d had my ‘proper’ camera in hand as it was over so fast, and such shows of affection were going to be few and far between in the ensuing months!
Up until the last few weeks, The Boy’s usual form has been to ignore Pipsqueak most of the time and chatter away non-stop to ensure that our attention remains on him. When attention is on Pipsqueak, he has NOT been happy, making life as a mum of two particularly ‘challenging’. Instead of terms of endearment, phrases most often uttered by The Boy in the first few months included:
“GO AWAY, Pipsqueak!”
This being the stock response whenever I brought her into what he perceived to be his personal space!
“No, no, no! Pipsqueak CAN’T come in my bedloom [bedroom].”
Which was always particularly helpful when trying to read him the obligatory bedtime stories, hubby was caught in traffic and Pipsqueak was screaming for milk (this happened often).
“Pipsqueak can’t sleep on MY bed!”
…As I put her down temporarily in order to give him his ‘stand up hug and light out’ before sleep. (Repeat twice daily as this also occurred at nap time).
“Stop crying Pipsqueak. Stop CRYING Pipsqueak. STOP CRYING PIPSQUEAK AAAARGH!!!”
My sentiments exactly, particularly when her hysterical screaming happened to (often) take place in the confinements of the car; but of course not a particularly helpful demand – certainly not one likely to achieve the desired response from a distraught newborn.
“DON’T do that, Pipsqueak!”
Just as The Boy likes to tell us what we can and can’t do (hence the name of my blog), poor Pipsqueak has been dictated to since she first arrived home. Sometimes all it takes is for her to simply look at him!
“That’s MY toy!”
In more recent months, as Pipsqueak has been reaching for things and actively playing more, this has been an all-too-familiar cry. Bless her, I certainly don’t dare to put any of The Boy’s current toys within her reach; it’s bad enough trying to get him to share during play dates with his best buddies. But we have ‘recycled’ his baby toys which I thought he might have forgotten (since they’ve been up in the loft for at least a year). Of course he hasn’t forgotten them. To be fair though, even Pipsqueak’s new toys are snatched away and claimed as his, especially if it looks like she’s really enjoying playing with them.
The good news is that now, between continuing declarations such as the above, there are some truly lovely ‘moments’ between them.
I am still waiting for the elusive photograph of The Boy actually holding or cuddling Pipsqueak (you know, like the ones most folk seem to post on social media within days of the birth of a new sibling; or like the picture-perfect poses of Prince George and Princess Charlotte released to the press a couple of weeks ago). But he now likes to teach Pipsqueak how to use certain toys; enjoys sharing bath time with her and playing peekaboo over the side after she gets out; likes her eating with us; sings to her when she’s overtired; tries to make her laugh when she gets cross; kisses her goodnight most nights and even (the holy grail) lets her sit on his bed for stories occasionally.
And I now have this lovely collection of sibling photos to look at when times are tough! They were a long time coming but definitely worth the wait.
Long may the good times continue!