When you have a second child, you worry about jealousy with the oldest. A new baby requires much and immediate attention. To the first child, it may seem that daddy prefers the baby since he’ll stop playing with her whenever the baby makes a noise.
With Eva we received some good advice at the beginning. Involve her when you can. Fill the bottle and let her shake it and bring it to mommy. Let her pick out a diaper during a change. Have her grab a blanket when daddy is holding him on the couch.
Eva took to her new big sister role very quickly, and was really helpful. Sometimes too helpful when mommy and daddy were doing something with Eli and she demanded that she be the helper. She sometime would try to hold the bottle for him, but couldn’t hold it level for long enough so Eli would get fussy. All done with best intentions, but difficult sometimes. But none the less, being involved in Eli’s care seems to have prevented any major jealousy issues.
Now that Eli is approaching one (eek!), she still likes to be helpful. She wants to put his shoes on, pull his coat off when we arrive, and make sure that he gets to do the same things that she does (E I too?) However, jealousy has shown up.
I’m not sure if at 15 months she wasn’t mature enough to be jealous, or if she really just didn’t show any jealousy at that age. Two year old Eva does have jealousy though. It’s interesting to see where it comes out. It’s not when we give Eli hugs and kisses when we get home, but when we give Eli hugs and kisses because he fell. It’s not when Eli gets to eat and she’s not eating, but when she’s eating and he gets something that she doesn’t get. It’s not when he’s having fun with a toy, it’s…well that one is true.
Eli is going to be our emergency room child. While they both are adventurous and daring, Eli is just more so. He’s already had his first large bleeder from falling and hitting his mouth on the table. He climbs up things with no plans or ability to get down from them. So we’ve had plenty of falls and minor injuries that have needed mommy hugs.
When this happens, say trying to balance himself on the basketball hoop only it topples on top of him instead, we pick him up and rock him and tell him everything will be fine. Eva will come over, lie down on the ground where he fell, pull the hoop on top of herself, and cry. The obvious implication is that she knows that an injury will get you picked up and rocked.
Why would she do this? There is no shortage of affection in the house. Some days I wonder if I in fact give them too many hugs and kisses. The moment before Eli fell, Eva was playing by herself and was content. It wasn’t a moment where she tried to garner my attention or affection. Had I gone over and hugged her, she would either let it happen or shrugged it off because it was interrupting play time. So why did she try to get attention right after Eli fell?
We know that Eva cares for Eli. When we bring out the green beans to eat for dinner, we’ll put some on her plate and she will ask “E I too?”, right before devouring her portion. So we also know that she’s willing to share (except when tired, but almost everything about her is diminished when she’s tired, except for her voice volume, her risk taking, her running energy level, and her ability to say “No” when we ask her to do something.) But sharing daddy when Eli needs him the most is not cool with her?
Trying to understand the psychology of the two year old is like trying to decipher that NCAA bracket. It seems so simple at first, but then all the sudden North Dakota State is in the Sweet Sixteen. So I can’t explain why it is that something has more value just because someone else wants it. I suppose this isn’t just restricted to two year olds, but it is definitely accelerated. So all I can do here is guess what’s going through her mind.
When is a hug more than a hug? The hugs I give her are interchangeable, full of love, but common. If I gave you $5 on Monday and everyday afterwards, come Sunday you’d no longer be thinking “Thank you, that’s incredibly nice” but “where’s my $5?” If, however, I gave you that $5 when you were at the cashier and $5 short you’d be extra thankful. The hugs we give Eli when he falls are extra special because they are targeted and are done with no need for reciprocation. This is a special hug. Eva knows this, and if Eli gets something special, she wants something special too.
There is nothing unusual about a two year old wanting something special. The trick is how to convince her that she cannot have want she wants all the time. It’s not All About Eva.