When I was pregnant with Jeremy I often heard people say “I wonder how Tom will go when you have the baby…” they would purse their lips, raise their eyebrows…and annoy me.
“Oh well, he’ll be right, we will see” I would reply, shrug it off, change the subject.
I guess people did that because the Tom people saw was attached to me constantly, clinging to me for the smallest of things and being, well, Tom. Energetic, intense and demanding. Occasionally I would be outright told that I should be prepared for him to be insanely jealous as soon as the baby is born. On the flip side some people told me he would love being a big brother.
I really didn’t know what he was going to do at all. Tom has the ability to drive me crazy in one minute, and floor me with his independence the next. So I didn’t worry. I figured we would just work it out when the time came.
I definitely decided to give up planning anything when a quick search of Mr Google returned Mr Negativity, telling me he would turn into some jealous monster. I didn’t want to don him in a green suit just yet.
So in an effort to bring back positivity in parenting, here are 5 things I’ve noticed about (my) toddler with a newborn.
1. Everything babies do is AH-MAZING: When we had our first baby, every little noise, coo, burp was a wonder. When Tom would just begin to cry, I would be there to scoop him up.
Well now it’s Tom’s turn to be amazed. Every time Jeremy cries, Tom is by his side. “Oh dear!” he says. Every time Jeremy is filling his nappy, Tom is there to point at his nappy and look at me in wonder. Wow! There he goes again!
2. Toddlers can ACTUALLY be helpful: Ok, so at first it was pretend helpful.
“Thanks for helping!” I would say to Tom as he covered Jeremy with his blanket…and covered his entire head while he was at it.
“Thanks for helping!” I would say to Tom when he was trying to shove a rubber duck in Jeremy’s face while I gave him a bath.
But this morning, I was half way through getting dressed and Jeremy started to cry. “Can you rock the cradle please Tom?” I watched him rock the cradle while I finished getting dressed. Every now and then he would stop, sneak his hands through the bars, and give him a pat. By the time I was done getting dressed, Jeremy was fast asleep. I decided I might keep that little skill of his up my sleeve!
3. You get to watch the bond: There are those precious moments that you just want to capture forever. Last week I took Tom to the park to feed the ducks. He was SO excited. He was literally jumping up and down and squealing. Every now and then he would come back to the pram, pop his head in the back and excitedly babble to Jeremy with a bit of “duck!” and bread thrown in his face for good measure. He wanted to share his excitement with Jeremy so much, I’m pretty sure he was just wishing he would hurry up and walk already so they could be super excited together.
4. The Newborn is entertained too: I could shove all the bright toys I can find in Jeremy’s face under a rocker or tummy time mat, but it is Tom’s voice that he will tune into the most. His head turns in his direction. His big eyes widen. Sometimes he smiles. Who needs coloured plastic to look at when he has an excitable, animated brother to watch? And I don’t need to get down with Jeremy for tummy time. Because Tom is there instantly, bringing his face close to his.
5. Jealousy or not, toddlers are hard work: Sometimes Tom cracks it. Sometimes he screams for me so many times my head wants to explode. It happens when I’m cooking, trying to get something organised or when I’m feeding Jeremy. He might be jealous, or he might just be in a crap mood. When he is like that he can lash out at whatever is around him. A plate of food, a toy, Jeremy. I hold him, I give him love until he settles down. We don’t tolerate him being rough with Jeremy. He usually covers his face with his hands as soon as he has done something he shouldn’t have. He knows it’s not right. He goes to ‘time out’ in the hallway and that has been pretty effective so far.
So really, it is a little scary at first having a newborn in the house with a big, strong, FULL ON toddler. I didn’t know what to expect and I thought I would have to put a toddler-proof barrier around Jeremy at all times.
But it’s important not to underestimate the learning of these little beings. With the right treatment, they can step up and be fantastic siblings. Not perfect. Never perfect. But as long as you take the good and the bad you can be in a position to notice the magic moments.
What have you been told about Toddlers with Newborns?