|“Cuddling” with Hermione – 4 days old|
The most common question I get asked when baby Hermione (not her real name) and I go out is how big brother Spartacus is doing with the new family addition. I am pleased to report that Sparty is an awesome big brother. There are two reasons for this:
1) his four-year-old cousin got a new baby sister in July so he had a mentor give him him insider info
2) this book:
|Sparty’s favorite book on Sparty’s placemat|
Big Brothers are the Best by Fran Manushkin
(Picture Window Books, 2012)
My son has read this book so many times in the last month that he has it memorized. Grammy (my mother-in-law) gave Spartacus this book, and I couldn’t be more grateful. It’s super helpful that the blond-haired, blue-eyed protagonist looks a lot like him.
This lovely bit of prose helped Spartacus with understanding the transition: “There’s somebody new in our family. It’s a baby! Our baby is little, and I am big. I am a big brother!”
He also learned important lessons like:
- Why he got a new bed and we converted his toddler bed back into a crib: “I sleep in a big brother bed. Our baby sleeps in a crib.”
- Why babies cry: “When our baby cries, I know why. The baby’s saying, ‘It’s time for a new diaper.’ Or ‘I’m hungry.'”
- And his favorite page: “Little babies drink from bottles. Big brothers eat cupcakes!”
Jealousy and Affection
We were afraid Spartacus would be jealous of the attention the new baby is getting, and we have gotten told several times, “Put baby down. Come play ________ with me!”
|“Baby” Spartacus with Grammy|
But overall he is very proud of his new baby sister and protective of her. He fetches diapers and wipes for us to change her diaper, and gives her good morning and good night kisses. He chases the dogs away when they come to give baby kisses, and when we go to church he tells everyone who comes to ogle the car seat that’s his baby sister, and her name. Spartacus also reports helpful information we may be unaware of, for example when she’s screaming in my arms, “Momma, baby’s crying.” He is also THE expert at reporting when her eyes are open, which especially for the first two weeks is a rare thing!
|Sparty at Christmas – with HIS helmet, chair, Nemo slippers, and Packer football|
Obviously it will continue to be a transition going from the baby of the family and only grandchild on both sides to now being the firstborn. However, one unanticipated result of our three weeks of having two children under three is that we’ve given Spartacus more leeway to do things on his own (by necessity) and he has surprised us with what he is capable of doing independently.
No, I do it! My turn!
Spartacus is now two and a half, and generally does a good job of putting his dishes in the sink and picking up his toys when asked, and he feeds the dogs (with some assistance). We’ve noticed since the baby that other tasks we usually assist him with were taking longer and longer – he drags them out like he doesn’t want to transition to something new. Instead of just brushing his teeth, he needs to fill his cup with water and empty it, then stick his suction-cup toothbrush to the counter, then turn the lights on and off, etc If I pulled out two shirts for him to choose from, he would decide on one, then change his mind as soon as I put the first one over his head, and tantrums then ensue. A two minute activity turned into ten.
With a screaming baby and often barking dogs in the background, Hubster and I get frustrated and finally began telling him to do it himself and leaving the room…and surprisingly, whatever we told him to do, he did, much faster without an audience.
Spartacus now can –
- pick out clothes from the dresser for the day
- put his toothbrush and toothpaste away in the medicine cabinet and turn the light off
- put things away or get things from a different floor of the house (e.g. getting a book from his room or putting new bath toys up in his bathroom from the first floor)
- clean up a spill if we give him a paper towel
|Sparty helped make valentines for his classmates, choosing Finding Dory stickers for each kid|
He SUPER impressed us last week when he got his step stool from the bathroom and carried it into the living room, put it next to the bassinet, and climbed up to check if baby’s eyes were open. It is so fun to watch him develop problem-solving skills on his own.
The other thing we’ve learned is how important a routine is to our young firstborn. I can almost write out a script for our morning routine and the pickup/evening/bedtime routine. If there is any deviation, there are tears. But that’s another post for another time!
Also, if you’re reading this, you are one of my now over 20,000 page views – so thank you for coming with me on our parenting/education journey!