Being the Baby

imageMy Baby T has been getting a bit of stick lately from his siblings and it makes me really, really mad. I don’t get seriously cross with the kids that often but yesterday some hard words were had, in defence of the baby of the pack.

T is changing fast. He watches the bigger kids and he wants so much to be like his big brother and sister that he fights to reject all signs of babydom. He wants to drink out of open cups, bin his bib and reject his highchair, despite the fact that he can hardly reach the table when he sits on a grown up chair. In short, my baby boy dreams big.

With two older siblings ahead of him, T wants everything sooner than he is ready and he feels a huge sense of injustice when he can’t have what the others have. Being the baby can be hard.

But being the big brother or sister can be hard too. The problem with toddlers is that they can be incredibly annoying. If you are a kid who has a collection of small, precious items that you want to keep safe, or a game set up exactly as you want it, a maurading spit monster is really not going to be your favourite person. I get that, I really do. I’ve been there. But T is part of this family and the kids getting angry with him for simply being a toddler makes my blood boil.

H loves his baby brother but the more active and capable he gets, the more irritating he seems to find him. As the oldest, H has always looked out for the other two and he was positively obsessed with T as a baby. But that obsession has well and truly faded. He now gets so annoyed with his little brother wanting to play that I catch him shouting at him as if he is a badly behaved dog. T blunders in, knocks the Batcave over sucks Superman’s cape and ruins the game. Yes, bloody annoying, but that is life with a toddler.

I sometimes wonder if I should shut T out, keep him away from the big kid games. But I feel so sorry for him and all he wants to do is join in, in his clumsy, over-enthusiastic way. So, mostly I tell them to let him play. All they have to do is give him some random character they don’t want, let him walk it about a bit and he is in heaven. A few knocked over superheroes seems like a small price to pay to me – but then I am not a superhero crazy seven year old boy.

As well as being yelled at by his brother, T has another problem: he has an overbearing sister. M is beyond delighted by T’s improving ability to play and chat. She has endured years of being at the mercy of her big brother’s moods when playing: H has a habit of losing his temper or wandering off bored when he loses interest half way through a game, leaving M bereft. But she now has a very enthusiastic sub on the bench, and one that she can boss about, to boot.

imageFor the most part, M and T play very well together. But M has a tendency to experiment with her baby brother’s mood, to wind him up and let him go, just to see what happens. She can whisk him up into a frenzy in the time it takes me to make a cup of tea. She likes to see just how nuts it is possible to make a two year old just before the bedtime wind down.

But that isn’t all she does. She just can’t stop herself from petting the poor lad. She cuddles him, strokes his hair and tickles his tummy. She loves to help him put his shoes on and do his cardigan up. He is basically an oversized doll to her, but he isn’t very happy about it. Being constantly pawed when you have a busy toddler schedule to keep to is plain annoying.

And sometimes she messes with what he is doing, just because she can, in a sort of tots power play. Yesterday I caught her sitting on the sofa putting her feet on top of T’s toy train, stopping him from moving it and ruining all his fun, just because she could. This came just five minutes after H had been berating the poor lad for daring to want to join his game.

It was time for serious words with them both, in defence of my baby, who only wants to do his thing and be like his siblings.

When you are growing up, you don’t really appreciate the pros and cons of your position in the family. As a rule, you tend to think you are the one who is hard done by, no matter where you sit in the pecking order. I am the second of four kids and I know there were times when I wished I was able to do things sooner, like my big brother, or that I was the cute little one, like my little sister. But right now, more than ever before, I feel sorry for all the family babies out there. Maybe you were right, Sis. Maybe it does suck to be the little one.

Being a toddler can be very hard. Being a toddler who is in turn shouted at and wound up by older children can be doubly hard. I make no apologies for standing up for my baby and really telling the other two off, despite remembering clearly just how irritating little siblings can be.

T is our little boy, the ‘forever baby’ of our small clan. Annoying? Yes. Frustrating? Undoubtably. But he is our baby, our annoying. And they have to put up with him, the good and the bad.

School starts for M tomorrow. If T had any clue what was going on, I think he might be secretly pleased.

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