When my sister and I used to get together for Christmas shopping in Chicago (was that in another lifetime?) my mom would gush about how much she loves that we enjoy spending time with each other. Liz and I would roll our eyes and smirk at the comment, never really understanding her emotion. But fast forward a few years (like ten) and suddenly that comment takes on a whole new meaning.
For us, deciding to have another child involved many factors, but chief among them was having a sibling for Charlie. I understand that siblings argue and bicker and don't always end up being the best of friends. Sometimes situations arise that create rifts between siblings that unfortunately can't be easily repaired. But other times, siblings play and create together and form lasting friendships. They care for and protect each other, inspire and influence each other. They share formative years and only siblings can commiserate about the disfunction of their particular family.
When people ask how Charlie is handling a new little sister, we always explain that he is the best big brother. Ever. He loves Anna more than anything and dotes on her constantly. Usually, people will smile and say, "Just wait! That will change once she starts getting into his things!" or "Well you better enjoy it while it lasts!" And while there may be some truth to these comments, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Charlie continues to enjoy having a little sister around.
Here's a glimpse of what he thinks of her:
First thing in the morning, Charlie will come into our room and say good morning to me. Then, he always follows with:
"Mommy, I need to see my baby sister this morning."
Often if Anna is crying and I can't get to her right away, I'll find Charlie right next to her, softly saying
"Don't worry Baby Sister, Don't cry. Big Brother is here! Big Brother loves you. You don't need to cry honey."
Sometimes, if Anna isn't settled by Charlie's words, he'll stay right by her side and yell,
"Mommy! Baby Sister is crying! Mo-om, your DAUGHTER is CRYING!"
He wants to play with her often and doesn't quite understand that she's too little to play. This doesn't deter him from trying. Usually she's nursing and he'll often ask:
"Is Baby Sister done milking yet?" or "Do you have to milk Anna?"
And he's always concerned about her emotional health. The other night, we were reading books before bed. I had Anna in my lap and she was becoming a little fussy. The books we were reading were all about 'prehistoric beasts' (surprise surprise) and contained phrases like, "The fierce predator rips into his prey with his razor sharp claws..." The illustrations are equally graphic-- much to Charlie's enjoyment (Look at all the blood, Mom!). But as we read these books, Anna became even more fussy. I'm pretty sure it was due to the fact that it was 8:00 at night, Charlie had an entirely different idea. So he leaned over and in the sweetest voice said,
"Don't worry Baby Sister. They're not real! These dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. Don't be scared little sweetie."
When he leaves for preschool or goes to bed, he will often say:
"Goodbye Baby Sister. I love you so much! I love you more than the whole Earth and all of Outer Space. Mom? How big is Outer Space?"
And finally, my favorite was this: A few weeks ago, I was snuggling with Charlie before lights out. He turned to me and said,
"Mommy, I don't want to say this but I have to tell you. I'm really sorry, Mommy. But I love Anna so so so much. I love her more than you. I'm so sorry, Mom."