Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sibling Rivalry

I had wondered how Anna was going to react to her baby sister.

I hadn't been thorough enough to read any books on the topic, well, except for 'Angelina Ballerina Gets a Baby Sister' but I bought that at a yard sale before I was even pregnant so that hardly counts. People were more than generous with their advice though, and knowing that Anna had been on the pedestal of single child-hood for long enough I knew I should listen and listen hard.

The advice mainly fell in to two camps, what to do when first introducing your little dictator to her new sibling, and then what to do when real life begins and you get home. In the first case we were told by numerous wellwishers that it was imperative to have Lucy brought in to meet the three of us (LK, me and Anna) whilst in the hospital rather than have Anna walk in to my room and be confronted by the nuclear family unit of me, LK and Lucy. It was a feat of logistics let me tell you. LK called from the hospital lobby to say he and Anna were minutes away, I scrambled the nurse to whisk Lucy off my boob and into the nursery etc etc. but amazingly it all went like clockwork.

So what was Anna's first response to her new sibling?

She sneezed on her.

Best laid plans etc etc.

Lucy then developed a cold and spent the first few days at home sleeping upright in her car seat struggling with a noseful of baby boogers, while her evil sister, I mean doting sibling tried to hug the living daylights out of her. Lucy is clearly a survivor.

That has been the extent, so far, of the sibling rivalry. Anna is very attentive to her sister, constantly wanting to kiss her (we're on cold #2 and counting....), and squeeze the crap out of her. Her hugs may speak louder than her words as they do border on the 'aggressive' if I've been spending a little too much time nursing Lucy. As far as you could tell, she appears thrilled with the new addition, telling anyone within earshot that she has a baby sister who is very slow to learn to talk.

The backlash, it turns out, has all been directed my way.

This is a typical conversation between Anna and I these days:

Me: "Hey love, will you be a big helper and get Mummy a blanket for Lucy"
Anna: "No, I'm afraid I can do only small helps right now"
Me: "Please love"
Anna: "No, NO, NO!"

It's a joy. To my every question, request, breath, her answer is 'no', and sadly the same is pretty much true of my responses to her. Because, her questions (if permission is ever asked) are usually along the lines of "can I draw with my crayons on the curtains", or "can I mix milk, water and playdough and form a paste to plaster on the couch". Yesterday I came downstairs after putting Lucy down to find Anna painting her toenails on the carpet.

Dear God she's behaving like a three year old!

That's what I have to remind myself. She's only three. Maybe this behaviour was always going to develop. I have heard that 'three is the new two' after all. LK swears she was getting pushier before Lucy arrived, but I think it coincided with late pregnancy when I was unable to do anything more interactive than lie on the couch with a tube of antacids. Clearly she's begun acting out in a desperate bid for attention.

I know the answer is to give LK a bottle of breastmilk (not for him, for the baby for God's sake.....) and spend a couple of hours alone with Anna doing something fun, just the two of us. She is after all, struggling to find her place in our new family.

But quite frankly I think I'd rather poke my eyes out with a sharp stick.


Skeletor said...

She will act completely different when alone with you, just like old times. Getting pushy happens sadly to them all, don't let yourself be a pushover in the face of new pushyness, hierarchy must be maintained with you and LK on top of all.

Anonymous said...

I won't even go into the sibling rivalry thing . . . you'll get through it just fine and the day will come when Anna can't believe that Lucy wasn't always in her life.

That being said . . . 3 sucks. I love my son with all my heart, but GOOD GOD there are sure a lot of days when I just plain don't like him. Hoping 4 is better!

Ali said...

We have struggled with our 3yo a little bit since our 8mo was born. He really distanced himself from me from late pregnancy onwards and, b/c my husband works from home, started demanding that he be the 'mummy' essentially. To be honest, he still has some demanding crap days but when she got to about 6mo he seemed to forgive me and is mostly ok now. Hope
her behaviour is less stressful soon.

itsgrimupnorth said...

Its very simple actuallly. Anna has become an 'older sister' and it's widely known that they're a nightmare!

Daffodilly said...

Oh yes, my daughter decided to wet her knickers all day so I would find moist piles of Barbie undies all over the house. She had been potty trained for over 9 months before #2 arrived! She also gained & then lost a stammer for a month or so! It pays off when you go on vacation as they can bury each other in the sand whilst you sunbathe!

mmennen said...

You guys are doing a great job! Don't for a second feel guilty that you are not spending enough time with Anna - she knows you love her and if you make a big deal out of it, that's when she will start thinking it's a big deal. Otherwise she will get used to it and it will build her character to watch you take care of little Lucy. I was completely ignored, forced to help my mother with my younger siblings, made my own lunch by the age of 6, dressed myself, did the dishes, etc....all very early. I complained about it royally when I was little, but now I would not have it any other way. It made me more independent and I am grateful to my parents for their lack of attention ; ).

ExpatKat said...

Ah yes,these are typical issues. Our DD1 was just over 2 when her sister arrived and decided that although she'd been potty trained for 6mths she'd just regress. Dirty knickers were a daily feature for the next 4 mths. She also decided that the first 4 weeks we should take her sister back to the hospital, after all that was where she came from.

Hyphen Mama said...

Yes! Wynnie was 2 months shy of 3 when Mack was born. She had a very tough time accepting the new Alien into her life. She "liked" him but really wanted him to go back to whatever planet he'd come from.

What helped A TON was my husband taking her out on 2 day camping trips that "only big girls" got to go on (or even an afternoon at the beach). They also spent a ton of time at the park, or having lunch together. It was her special time. And I got to bond with baby.