God's Child, Our Joy

An adoptive family's journey in faith and life

Prepping for Number Two: Big Sister

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In the first year plus, the only responsibility that Eva has had is just to be awesome. She has been incredibly successful.

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In just a few weeks, her status will be changing. How will Eva react to being a big sister?

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She’s had a year plus of being an only child, and an only grandchild. When the boy arrives, our doting attention will be more than halved with her those first few months. How will she react to that? The hope is that her time at daycare has taught her some valuable lessons in sharing. Sharing toys, sharing space, sharing attention, and sharing time.

It’s not just the parental attention dynamic that will change. When the boy arrives, there will be a new dynamic to establish between her and her baby brother. A dynamic that (we as her parents have discovered with her) is constantly changing. Right now, all of her friends are daycare toddlers around the same age, toddlers of our friends that are all older but within a year and Quinton. When the boy arrives, he will be unable to walk, talk, or even sit. She will be unable to teach him things or even play with him.

That first month or two will be the toughest for her. She will continue to go to daycare as mom and the boy bond. Daycare, as those of you who have children know, is a germ infested environment. When she gets home, she’ll have to either be bathed or drowned in sanitizer if she is to be near the boy. Keeping them separate would seem to be the easiest, but the only thing that Eva wants more than graham crackers (her new favorite food) is whatever you don’t want her to play with.

Those first two months he is virtually defenseless. His skull is not yet fully developed. He has no control of his limbs, and is immobile. Eva is fully mobile, has control of her limbs, and thinks that being gentle with Quinton is grabbing a tuft of his fur with one hand as opposed to two.

How is Eva going to react to not being the center of attention? Will she become jealous when we are unable to push her in her John Deere ATV because the boy is napping in our arms? Will she want to drink formula out of a bottle instead of milk in a Sippy cup because that’s what he’s doing? Is it not unfair that he gets to stay up while she has to go asleep? Will she regress to be more baby like because that’s what is getting attention?

So what do we do to help Eva with this transition? I asked a co-worker with children close in age, and she recommended that you involve her in the care of the child.

Eva, go change his diaper and then feed him his bottle.

Not exactly what I meant.

So, when you do change his diaper, perhaps you have Eva grab the clean diaper and bring it over. You have her carry the bottle over to the feeding chair. A little something that involves her in the baby’s care and rather than resent the brother for being needy, she herself could feel needed.

We visited with friends just recently. It was a going away party, as they were being shipped to Florida for work. They have a baby boy who is still in the early infant stages. This gave us a great opportunity to see how Eva would react/treat him. Indifferent is probably too harsh, but she really didn’t have much interest in a child that didn’t really do anything. In fact, we had to be careful with her because she was cruising along the table and had no time to see if she’d be stepping on anybody.

That’s the rub with Eva right now. She’s totally unaware of how her actions affect (effect?) others. She doesn’t know if that next step will be on somebody, or if that toy she flung will hurt anyone. She doesn’t know that her pats are gentle or too rough. These are the things that we will have to work on with her. No longer should we laugh at her virtually random toy tosses, but rather try to curtail them.

Once the boy has reached certain developmental marks, Eva and him will start to develop a new relationship, that of buddy brother and sister. Hopefully she can wait until he’s ready.

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One thought on “Prepping for Number Two: Big Sister

  1. My kids are 5 yrs apart so I can’t really give advice but I think I did read somewhere that if the kids are under 18 mos apart then it’s non issue, they just adapt quickly and it’s the new normal. I hope that’s true for you!

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