Posted by: Hannah | 12/12/2011

we fear change

My second-to-last week with Arthur has begun, and clearly he’s struggling with the New Baby and everything that goes with it.

He arrived on my doorstep right on time (bonus! go Dad!), his face still streaked with drying tears and his eyes red and swollen.

I just found out this morning that he’s been skipping hockey… I have personal Opinions about putting four year olds in hockey, but to express them in this country will probably get my citizenship revoked. And anyway, he seems to enjoy it and used to love Mondays because he could tell me about the weekend practices. Apparently since the baby’s arrival he’s been either begging to stay home altogether, or going but every little trip or bump sends him howling to the ice until a coach comes and hoists him back up again.

He needs a parent to stay in his room every night until he falls asleep, and most nights creeps into their room at some point and refuses to leave.

His appetite is off and he is quicker to anger than I’ve ever seen him.

All of this is understandable, but I think part of the problem is actually his normally very pleasant and helpful manner.

When asked about the baby, he is effusive in his praise:

“She’s the cutest baby ever!”

“I love her the most!”

“I help with my baby and I’m a good big brother!”

He has never once said that she cries a lot. Or is smelly. Or annoying. Or takes his mommy’s focus away from him for the first time in his life and puts it on the baby instead. I know he feels all of those things (hey, adults feel that way when a new baby comes home!) but he’s so determined to be The Good & Helpful Big Brother (TM) that he hasn’t yet allowed himself to express that maybe, sometimes, this tiny intruder is pissing him off.

It’s so tricky, figuring out how best to approach an older sibling when a baby comes along. There is no one right way to do things. Some kids accept the new situation effortlessly; Harry, for example, was not the least bit put out when Ron came along. I doubt we will be able to say the same for Ron; he doesn’t like things to change, and routine is very important to him. We’re as prepared as we can be for any eventuality.

In Arthur’s case, his parents were very very VERY involved in every aspect of his life. He was almost never away from them. When he first started coming to me, he was actually not great at playing with the other kids because he expected that I would play with him instead. He co-slept until just a few months ago. He went everywhere with them (and they both went everywhere with him; those hockey practices being a case in point, actually – both parents went to every single practice until the baby came).

Now things are different. Now things are wrong. Dad goes to work. Mom stays home. No Christmas decorations are up yet because his parents are too busy. His mom hasn’t made banana bread, he tells me, in “weeks and weeks and weeks”. All of these things are of course completely understandable, especially since his mom is in recovery from a very long unproductive labour followed by a c-section. But since he’s four, all he knows is that things are out of whack. He’s expressing his anger and frustration and sadness at times when it appears to have nothing to do with the baby, lest he be accused of not being a good big brother. His parents are baffled as to why he is sobbing when it’s time to come here and play with his friends, perhaps not realizing that it isn’t about that at all.




  1. Aw. Poor kid. I really feel for him. I think it’s a lot harder for siblings to adjust when they are older. My kids are so close together that I don’t think it really fazed Mark at all when Jake came along. He certainly never remembers a time when he didn’t have Jake. But for a kid who is four and who has been the centre and focus for four years…that’s really tough.

  2. I feel so sorry for Arthur and for his parents. When my daughter was born, my son was not at all pleased and attempted to remove her from the picture for almost a year. I felt both irritated by the behavior and guilty for causing it to be so. At least it’s likely that he will be okay about this Big Change at some point soon-ish. Poor little dude.

  3. I don’t want to be judgy (do I? I don’t THINK I do) but are his parents stupid? Okay, that was judgy and unproductive. Do his parents really not get it? Oh never mind, this isn’t going to get any better. Angus was more excited to see Eve than he was to see me when I brought her home. We were lucky – he was almost three, which seemed old enough to get what was going on and be helpful but not old enough to be settled in as an only child and resentful of an interloper. Not that we did that on purpose or anything – it was just dumb luck. I just feel so bad for the poor little dude.

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