I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting these two boys. My parenting has changed over the past near-three-years. I do things differently. I act and react differently. And, as an added benefit to both boys, I have more confidence in my parenting ability.
The truth is that LittleBrother has some benefits and some drawbacks in being the LittleBrother. I’ve been mulling them over. I was the oldest (by eight years) so my experience is different than his, yet, I think his experience is going to be okay in the end.
Benefits of Being the LittleBrother
1. Room for exploration. As opposed to blocking off the living room as the only play area, LittleBrother has been allowed to explore the entire upstairs on his own. Doors are closed to bedrooms and the bathroom and everything is babyproofed. This is not to say that he is not watched but he has much more freedom to learn and explore than BigBrother did at this age. He seems to enjoy this pseudo-freedom. This has also happened outdoors. At the crawling age, I kept BigBrother on a blanket. (He also had a texture aversion to grass.) LittleBrother? Crawls everywhere, even into the playhouse where his babylegs get horribly dirty. And this is okay.
2. Foods and textures are our friends. I’ll admit it. I made some mistakes with BigBrother when it came to food introduction. I played too heavily into his texture aversions and never pushed him to explore new tastes and textures. And so, with LittleBrother, I have kept introducing different textures and tastes of foods (in a slow, healthy way). LittleBrother has benefited in the way that he hasn’t really met a food that he is afraid to pick up and put in his mouth. He has preferences, indeed, but he’s not afraid to touch things.
3. Breastfeeding. Do I need to go into the benefits of this? Didn’t think so.
4. There will be no binky or bottle transition. Right now, this sometimes seems like a drawback. He won’t take a bottle at all anymore. And he never took a binky. But if you remember the Great Binky Removal of 2007, you know that not having to ever deal with such a thing will be a blessing. Even if it does get noisy up in here. He’s also been drinking from a straw sippy cup since five months of age and a tip-up sippy cup in just this past month.
5. We started sign language much earlier. After seeing how much BigBrother benefited from sign language, we started pretty early with the introduction to basic signs with LittleBrother. Just the fact that he can already tell us “more” seems to please the kid.
6. More toys. Okay, that’s not how I meant for it to sound. But with BigBrother, I was always hesitant to bring out the next “stage” of toys because I didn’t want it to be overwhelming or a hazard or anything of that nature. With LittleBrother, the toys are out. He plays. He experiences things earlier than BigBrother got to because things are just there. (Small toys with small parts are kept in BigBrother’s room with the door shut.)
6. I never worked outside of the home. I didn’t come back home with BigBrother until he was almost nine months old. I feel that I had a lot of lost time. I don’t really have that feeling with LittleBrother. Okay, so, maybe this is a benefit for me. All the same, it’s awesome.
The drawbacks of being LittleBrother
1. I’m busy. Despite not working outside of these walls, I still work. And it takes up some of the time that I would rather be playing on the floor. (Of note: LittleBrother is currently sleeping.) Thankfully FireDad is able to pick up some of that slack with his fire schedule. But, still, LittleBrother loves his Mommy and gets grumpy when I can’t drop what I’m doing immediately.
2. BigBrother takes up my time, too. BigBrother had my undivided attention once I returned home from work. LittleBrother doesn’t have that benefit. Especially when BigBrother was learning to use the bathroom, it would happen without fail that I would be needed to help just as LittleBrother wanted to nurse.
3. There are fewer pictures of LittleBrother. And I take a lot of pictures. But there have only been a few professional shots. Also? Uhm? The kid doesn’t have a babybook. (I’ll do a scrapbook. Someday.) But I feel bad. Thankfully, all of his milestones are documented via journaling. But still.
4. The kid never gets new clothes! Now, this is a bonus for the parents who are funding their wardrobes; clothes are passed down and save us lots of money. But, really, the kid would like some of his own clothes. I feel really bad about this but, well, what can you do? It seems frivolous to buy an entirely new wardrobe when one already exists.
There are other benefits and other drawbacks, of course. These are just the ones that pop out at me any time I think about LittleBrother being that younger sibling. Of course, I have to end on a positive note as that’s what I do.
The best thing about being the LittleBrother? Having a BigBrother. We were nervous before he arrived. Would BigBrother react to having a younger sibling in a satisfactory manner? Would he feel jilted, jaded and, as such, angry at the time lost with his parents? Would he hit or harm the baby? Would it make his terrible twos even worse? We have been pleasantly surprised. Yes, he’s been upset when I’ve had to tend to LittleBrother in the middle of playing flippity-flip (frisbee) outside. And yes, LittleBrother has gotten upset when I had to help in the bathroom when all he wanted to do was nurse to sleep.
But, oh, to watch these two play. It’s what we wanted. Neither FireDad nor I had a sibling in close age proximity. I was eight years older than my brother as was FireDad’s older sister. We knew we were taking a risk having them so close together. It wasn’t a guarantee that they would be close. And it still isn’t for the future. But we have hope.
Yes, the best thing about being the LittleBrother is having the BigBrother. They play. They laugh. There’s a bond that one wouldn’t think a child under one could have with a child under three. But it’s there. And we’ve been so blessed to watch it evolve.