What happened at the park yesterday has inspired me to write about Lemon Cake and Baby Banana’s relationship. It was my first time witnessing my son being protective of his sister. It was so sweet and almost moved me to tears. They were in a sand pit and a two year old girl came over to take a bucket and later a shovel from Baby Banana. The first time it happened, Lemon Cake stepped in and said loudly to the girl, “Baby Banana is using that bucket!” and gave her a frown. The second time, the girl took the shovel away and he yelled again, “Baby Banana is using the shovel!” and then threw sand in her direction. I stopped his behavior and figured out how everyone could have a shovel. Secretly, I was so proud and happy that he would get so upset on behalf of his sister. Of course, I also know it is partly “I can bully my sister but you can’t!” attitude. He has certainly taken things away from her plenty of times.
Part of the reason this is such a big deal to me is because despite all we did to prepare Lemon Cake for a baby sister, he had a very hard time the first few months when Baby Banana arrived. He would get upset every time I had to be away from him to nurse, change or put her to bed. It wasn’t so much that he didn’t like her but he hated that I had to be away from him because of her. He constantly told others to take her so I can be with him. It was tough. It got better after a while but he went through two more hard phases when baby Banana started crawling and when she started walking. I know these were all within the range of normal feelings and behaviors when a new sibling arrives, but it was hard when I was in the thick of it. There was a week where I felt like I couldn’t even go get a glass of water from kitchen without Baby Banana crying within five seconds either because he has hit her or grabbed something from her forcefully.
The past few weeks in particular has given me comfort and confidence that we will nurture a close and supportive relationship between Lemon Cake and BabyBanana. I think Lemon Cake is really enjoying Baby Banana lately because she is increasingly becoming more of a playmate instead of something he has to be careful and gentle with 24/7. It goes without saying that there will always be challenges, sibling rivalries, and the relationship in its positives and negatives will ebb and flow. It hit me strongly after the park incident that I am not just raising two children, but also “raising” the relationship in between them. I have often seen Baby Banana showing concern for Lemon Cake when he was upset because he was hurt or because I was stern with him. Yesterday after I sent Lemon Cake to his room, Baby Banana immediately went to his room to check on him. She crouched down to him and said a lot of gibberish to him. She also later brought him his penguin lovey. Lemon Cake is now often happy to share food with her during car rides. It was funny to see Baby Banana covered in dried apple rings because he kept handing her apple pieces from his container. When Lemon Cake gets frustrated with Baby Banana, instead of kicking her or grabbing from her immediately, he would verbalize his frustrations first (not 100% of the time). E.g. When Baby Banana yanked his hair, he immediately told me it hurts so I could intervene. He would also say “No!” or “It’s my turn!” or “Mommy! Please move Baby Banana! I need more space!” instead of being aggressive with her. Baby Banana has also learned to defend herself. She can shout “No!” very loudly while stomping her feet, walk quickly away from Lemon Cake or twist her body around with object in hand to make sure Lemon Cake cannot reach it. I must admit that it has been quite amusing to watch sometimes. It was music to my ear when Lemon Cake told me this evening, “Baby Banana cannot go to bed! I want to play with her for ten more minutes!”
My other major goal in fostering their relationship is to make sure they both see each other as capable, confident beings. I never want Baby Banana to play the role of “Mommy Daddy please rescue me” and I never want Lemon Cake to play the role of an aggressor. It is evident to me that they are capable of holding their own and they are both active participants in the games they choose to play together i.e. chasing, imitating each other, rolling on the floor or bed together…etc. Obviously they are just one and three years old and still need a lot of reminders, intervention and guidance in their play and interaction.
I will end this blog by giving you a quick update on the unlimited media experiment. In general it has been going ok. He asked for much more video time over the weekend and threw a lot more tantrums about it. It was making me truly regret having started the experiment. However, the past few days have been fine again. I don’t want him to start the day with video but I have been letting him. It is unlimited in terms of when he wants to watch it, but I do limit how much he gets to watch. So far, twenty minutes of video time before breakfast has been working well. It also lets me prepare breakfast for everyone in peace!