Thursday, August 30, 2012

Big Siblings

"Is he a good baby?" everyone asks me.

I always answer yes.  I wonder sometimes if that is the wrong answer, because a follow-up question is often, "So he sleeps through the night?"  Um, no.  Is that what a good baby does?

Another common question is, "How do your other kids like him?"  I truthfully reply that they love him.

I would like to take some time here to elaborate on how the big siblings are enjoying the new one.

My oldest, age 7, likes to "babysit" the baby.  This is actually pretty helpful.  She takes the baby into a room with her and puts him down on a blanket surrounded by toys and picks him up or gives him a binkie as needed, freeing me up occasionally while I do the dishes or something.

My second child says, "He's so cute!" and then asks, "Can we keep him?" just as he would ask about a potential pet.  Then he affectionately tries to touch the baby's eyes.  (I am trying to encourage him to express his affection in some other way.)

I was most worried about my toddler, the only one who has never had a younger sibling before.  His personality seemed a little more jealousy-prone than his older siblings, but like his older siblings before him, the newest big brother is much more likely to smother the baby with affection than out of spite.  It's a good thing, because I have enough on my hands just protecting the baby from his older siblings' often rowdy love.

At the hospital, my toddler learned that grown-ups enjoy photographing new babies, and he insisted on joining in the fun.  I am very grateful for electronic photography, because I didn't have to worry about my film being wasted.  Here are some of my toddler's photos of the baby:

He also took some more abstract photos in the hospital room, which reveal a great deal about a toddler's perspective.  Okay, maybe they reveal just one thing: that toddlers are short and see a lot of stuff that is near or on the ground.

I am so glad he didn't drop the camera when he took that last one.

This next one is a photo my husband  took.  When this photo was taken, my toddler screamed, "No!  Take picture baby!  No take picture me ever again!"

Fortunately, he has since lifted the ban. This is a relief, because he is at quite a photogenic stage right now.  He looks like a cherub, with his blonde curls, puffy cheeks and blue eyes.  He may never be this cute ever again.

In spite of his own rules, there are a few self portraits among his works.  I am guessing that is because he is not very good at photography yet and didn't realize the camera was backwards.

For a couple days before each of my baby well-child visits, I track his eating and diaper habits so I can answer rationally when the pediatrician asks about them.  (There's an app for that, of course.)  One day I found my toddler standing over the basinet holding the tablet.  "Baby sleeping," he informed me, and showed me the tablet.  Sure enough, he had opened up the Baby Tracker app, found the sleep icon, and marked it.  I hadn't been tracking sleep, but with further investigation, I found that my toddler had tracked baby sleep on multiple occasions.

I love it when my toddler sings lullabies to the baby.  He makes up his own songs,. The songs always include the baby's name and the word "ever," which is currently my toddler's favorite word, among other lyrics as the muse inspires him.  He frequently gestures and always sings high and soft.

Before my youngest sister was born, my parents took us to a class for older siblings at the hospital.  I still remember how fun that was for me, so I found one for my kids to attend. (My hospital didn't have one, but another hospital nearby did.)  Technically, only my older two kids were old enough for the class, but my toddler was present and engaged. And the kids actually remember some of the things they learned!  My oldest videotaped the baby's first bath at home and recited the handwashing advice she learned from the class in her video.

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