This month you became a big brother, and you managed it on your own terms with your trademarked easygoing style. Your sister Zella arrived at 5:30 in the morning, and so when you woke up on February 11, you found your Nana, Papa, and Grammy waiting for you instead of me and Dada. In response to this odd turn of events, you reportedly requested your usual banana breakfast and then happily went off to see your cousins and friends at your parent-tot class. Later in the day, you dropped by the hospital, where you ignored the odd new creature in favor of your old favorite, Dada’s iPhone.
By the second day, you were willing to concede that the small package in mama’s arms was indeed “baby,” though you drew the line when I asked if you wanted to touch her skinny wrinkly feet. “Noooo,” you solemnly replied, with a sad shake of the head. Why on earth would Mama ask you to do something so weird and gross?
Later, after a rocky first hour at home, where chaos and exhaustion on everyone’s part gave rise to some whining and tantrums, you began to see that Baby could be kind of a fun toy. Since then, you’ve enjoyed patting her head, pointing out the features on her face, and asking to hold her. When she sneezes from the cold you gave her (perhaps we could have been more vigilant against you taking your fingers directly out of your mouth and jamming them into her eyes and nose), you gently pat her shoulder to comfort her. In fact, though you have fewer than five two-word phrases in your vocabulary, “hold baby” appears to be one of them.
You haven’t let the massive life disruption pass by completely unnoticed, though. You used it as an opportunity to unleash your inner mountain climber. You have scaled the dining room table, you have climbed out of the bathtub onto the toilet, you have clambered from your futon onto your changing table. Yesterday you attempted to use me as a ladder to climb onto the kitchen counter. Worried that forbidding you to climb would only cause you to do it more, we have focused on acting kind of bored by it, and trying to get you to climb down yourself, rather than giving into your insistent demands of “bup! bup!” which, despite sounding suspiciously like “up!” is actually a request to be swung down so the climbing can begin anew.
“Bup” is just one of your increasing vocabulary of double-use words. It means up and down, because, duh, if you’re down you want to go up and if you’re up you want to go down. Why would you need two words for that? Same for “on.” I have to use context clues to tease out when “bock” means “blocks,” or “box,” or “books,” or “socks.”
We’re going to have hard times in the next few months, as we already have this week, and after Monday, Dada won’t be around to jump in and take over. There will be times when Zella begins squalling while I am still struggling to figure out whether you want blocks or a book. Times when you need to be helped off a precarious perch while I’m stuck on the couch nursing. Times when you need a place on my lap that has been taken over by a tiny invader.
But you’re a sweet and resilient kid, always willing to be satisfied, even moments after suffering a terrible setback. I can only promise that though Zella may slow me down a bit, I will keep filling your fists with crackers and your head with rhymes and your arms with hugs.
Welcome to big brotherhood, sweetheart.
Kisses and hugs,