Part of the fun of having a second child is anticipating the meet cute with the older sibling. We had our cameras waiting, ready to snap that moment the once-only child holds her little brother. My daughter didn’t come to the hospital to meet our new son, so it made the event of bringing him home for the first time all the more poignant. With his toddler sister closed in on him, all kisses and squeezes (easy girl), and I could only imagine what my baby was thinking when meeting the older sibling. Up to that point, every single second was a new experience, but having a loud, precocious 2-year-old toddler in his face on his third day on the planet might have been the weirdest thing to happen yet.
I have often wondered what my newborn was thinking. If every thing is all brand new, then how weird can it all be, really? The baby has no point of reference or anything to really compare, well, anything to. Getting circumcised was probably no stranger than getting his first bath (at least that’s what I tell myself so I don’t have any regrets about it). But when I watched my newborn son watch his older sister, I could definitely tell the wheels were turning in there. He was fascinated by her expressions, her voice, and her movements.
It would be a good 15 months before he’d be able to verbally express his thoughts on having a big sister. Before that point, I would make guesses as to what he was actually thinking about his older sibling. Here are some thoughts that probably occurred to him during their initial encounter:
“The Term Of Limits On Calling Me Your ‘Baby’ Expires As Soon As I Start Solids”
At first, it’s adorable how the now “big” sibling assumes ownership of the “little” sibling. But as a parent, this appropriation began to get a little creepy when my daughter wanted to breastfeed her baby brother. I was glad to be modeling that behavior, but she became legitimately pissed off at me when I tried to explain how she just wasn’t able to pull that off.
“If This Is A Preview Of My Toddler Look, I Am Not Down With Hand-Me-Downs”
We didn’t find out the gender of our kids before they were born, so all their newborn-sized clothes were in neutral tones of green, yellow, and beige. As my daughter got older, we realized that it would be easier to keep buying gender neutral clothes, but they were increasingly harder to find as she got older. Thankfully, we’re a Star Wars family, and everything she wore with characters from those films was perfectly suitable to be passed on to her baby brother.
Honestly, I would have no qualms about dressing my son in any kind of clothing, whether it had a truck or a unicorn on it. Sadly, however, not all of society has come around to that kind of freedom of expression.
“So We Share The Mother? I Don’t Think That’s Going To Work Out.”
You know when my firstborn suddenly started needing more than ever? Exactly when her little brother arrived. I think my newborn sensed that exaggerated clinginess, so he dialed up his whininess in response. At least that’s what it felt like when I went from one to two kids and both of them demanded my attention.
“This Whining You’re Doing? Yeah, Teach Me To Make That Sound.”
My kids are 9 and 6 years old now, and practically everything my son has been doing his entire life, I can trace back to some behavior of his older sister’s. While all kids whine, the pitch of my son’s shrill voice sounds exactly like my daughter’s. His older sibling has been his greatest teacher, regrettably.
“Are Hugs Supposed To Hurt?”
I can cut my daughter a little slack;, as she was only 2.5 when her brother was born. She couldn’t be expected to calibrate the force of her hugs. Still, she definitely knew not to squeeze him around the neck and I learned pretty quickly not to leave her alone in the room with him.
“Stop Licking Me”
These kisses my son was getting from his big sister felt vindictive, as if she was trying to smother him in saliva. We started building his immune system pretty early on, given how much sibling bacteria he was getting bathed in.
“Ouch, Quit It, Ouch, Quit It, Ouch, Quit It”
My daughter has developed the classic older sibling survival skill: stealthily being able to inflict harm without the parents noticing. Though we were vigilant in encouraging gentle touches, and tried to keep an eye on my older one’s hands at all times, she occasionally was able to get a jab or a pinch or a scratch in. The baby slept in our room for his first four months of life, not only because it made it easier for me to nurse him at night, but so we could guard him from our toddler ninja.
“They’re Totally Keeping That New Teddy Bear, I Just Know It”
Part of our welcoming ceremony for the new baby was to give my daughter something for her to give her baby brother. This was a total fail. She might have been excited to present her little brother with a toy, but as soon as she realized that he possessed no motor skills that allowed him to actually play with it, she snatched it back and it remains on her bed to this day. Can’t say I blame her, though. I mean, I have a younger brother too.
“When Am I Going To Get Those Little Sharp White Knives In My Mouth Too?”
My older kid was desperate to prove how much better she was once her brother was born. That sense of competition has never left, by the way, but in those first few weeks of adjusting to having a sibling, she’d resort to bragging about anything having to do with her older age. Merely having teeth gave her a superiority complex.
“I Don’t Understand How I Can Love You And Hate You At The Same Time”
It was amazing to watch my younger child gaze up at his older sister with such awe. He really thought she was the coolest thing. As much as they bicker and complain about each other, there are those moments when I catch them getting along and it is so heart-filling. They love each other so much that they feel free enough to spew hateful words and punch each other. As much as it kills me when they fight, I know they do it because they feel safe around one another. In the end, and no matter what they can do to each other, it won’t be enough to break their bond.