I don’t have siblings, so this whole two children in the same home thing is pretty jazzy for me to ride through. I have many favorite things in my parenting journey, and taking part in the sibling experience is among the top, especially now that Mr. Man is three-and-a-half and Warrior Queen is eighteen-months. They’ve been interacting for a while now, but my children are on the cusp of playmatedom; I can’t wait to see what this next phase holds!
(I’m not delusional; this is what it’s like to raise siblings, right Shutterstock?)
Big brother is Warrior Queen’s favorite person among a small crowd of people she is quite fond of. I often stare at her silently as her eyes follow my son in his independent play. So often she has a unique smile when her brother is involved, and everything her brother suggests is the gold standard of what needs to occur.
(Why that’s an incredible idea, Big Brother! Thanks for the swanky hint, daddytypes.com…)
I took away her bottle a couple of months ago when it was obvious she was no longer using it for milk sustenance. Fazing out the bottle in itself wasn’t an issue; getting Warrior Queen to consume milk without it has been. Water from a cup has been a non issue, but she only is willing to drink a sip or two of milk before she hands the cup to me and trots off to dismantle something. There was an intervention that seemed promising, but didn’t last…or at least it is unsustainable. Warrior Queen was willing to drink from a regular cup and straw when she saw Little Man doing so. It was the cutest thing. I asked my son to show his sister how the deed was done. Her concentration on him is something unique to his very existence. She immediately accepted the straw she refused mere moments prior. Between the two of them trading off sips, most of the cup of milk was drained…after all, Mr. Man loves his milk. But, unless that very process is repeated where he is directly involved in getting her to drink from the straw, she has almost nil interest. But, the pride beaming off of Little Man when he taught his baby sister to use a straw almost makes the ordeal for each and every milk episode worth it…almost.
Warrior Queen is a good eater…like her brother, and she seems to have an endless appetite these days. I’m not sure where she is keeping all the food she’s ingesting.
(I’m sure BBC is on the cusp of discovering that black holes are the stomach of a toddler who loves her food.)
Dinner is an especially interesting experience. She will eat her fill of whatever I served, as well as Little Man. Invariably there are some remnants on my son’s plate. Warrior Queen waits patiently until he departs his chair, and every time climbs in front of his residual setting and cleans her big brother’s plate.
(Leftover cold and vaguely recognizable food? Game on! Thanks Little Rock Family.)
What is especially amusing is she will scavenge every morsel even if it was an item she refused of her own serving. I don’t know if Mr. Man fully realizes this extraordinarily reliable occurrence. The one time I mentioned his sister would finish the cod he left, he immediately shoved almost half a child-sized plate of fish in his mouth in one nauseating stroke.
(It’s all mine…MINE! Thanks, Pinterest.)
So on the one hand this kind of thing would totally chap his ass if he knew, but on the other hand he might be too involved with the first of his several after dinner treats to care.
And, there is the multitude of small loving moments…the two holding hands in the back seat as we journey to our every day. Little Man will scratch Warrior Queen’s back. Occasionally I’ll bathe the two together. After both are clean and it’s time for play, they will sit in companionable quiet, occasionally trading cups in perfect unspoken harmony. Periodically, Little Man will fill a small cup with warm water and coat Warrior Queen’s back to keep the air from chilling her small body. Sometimes she won’t acknowledge the gesture, but other times she will look up to him before resuming her activities.
But, not everything is well received. Mr. Man wanted my husband to retrieve his grotesque dog from behind the sofa. My husband asked Warrior Queen to complete the favor; my son empathically refused to accept the dog unless it was from his daddy’s hands.
(You’d be all over picking up this toy too, wouldn’t you Flickr?)
Then there was the other day when Warrior Queen was quite distressed, as she often is when there is a combination of something unimportant happening and she is ignored for too long. On this specific occasion she wanted me to place a silly fishing hat of sorts on her head, but her ability to communicate her needs was halted by a preschooler chasing her around the kitchen assuming a hug and kiss would make the world right again.
(Pretty sure this is how Warrior Queen saw the situation.)
It was loud and annoying until Little Man finally cornered a disgruntled and whining toddler, gently wrapping his arms around her and laying a light smooch to her cheek. There are many conversations I have with Little Man about receiving consent before touching other people’s bodies, but sometimes the need to fix what is ailing his sister is too much for him to ignore. Shortly after Warrior Queen was appeased with her costume, and scampered off to destroy a room and probably tamper with a wall outlet unaffected.
I can’t stand people tickling me, but Mr. Man loves few things more than a hard core ticklefest. I don’t get it, and I don’t particularly love that he descends on his sister with this singular motivation to share an experience he adores. It seems, at the moment anyway, that she isn’t opposed to tickles in and of themselves. Warrior Queen is quite assertive with her displeasure, and I always wait for her screams when her big brother is in one of these rough play, tickling moods. But, more times than not she will be amused and giggle like no one else can bring from her belly, and she will smile in anticipation until he resumes.
Now that they are growing older there are more events of them sitting together “reading” stories. Sometimes Mr. Man recites her favorites to her…sometimes they sit together on the floor and page through the pictures independently yet coupled.
Sometimes they build towers together. Mr. Man will begin by asking me to build him something, but shortly thereafter he wants me to watch him and Warrior Queen take turns stacking things before the structure crashes to a shambles and they begin again.
Often they sit next to each other on the sofa throwing their backs into the cushions until the section they are sitting on is gradually positioned across the room. A common occurrence them running and climbing over each other, scaling the piled length of the sectional. When there are cushions on the floor they dive off the sofa equally, all of it simultaneously delighting and driving me crazy.
(Knockout Mag knows this is clearly the pinnacle of any day.)
Then there are the spoken words of support. Warrior Queen’s vocabulary seems to increase every week. Not everything is a complete word. More often than not she pronounces the first two or three sounds of words, but recently she started uttering “Mommy” and “Daddy”…well, mostly Daddy. Car rides to school frequently have Warrior Queen calling for my husband. Little Man usually responds, “Daddy is at work. It’s okay. You’ll see him tonight when he gets home.”
One of my new favorite routines is right before “quiet time.” I try to synchronize as much of the afternoon nap as I can; I’m usually successful to some degree. These days Warrior Queen climbs the stairs with me and Mr. Man. Excitement radiates off her as she staggers her drunken gorilla self to her big brother’s room. I read the same story before quiet time because I don’t want to be stuck reading a long story when I want nothing more than to eat lunch or relieve myself in the restroom. At this point Brown Bear has been read so many times that occasionally Little Man insists he’s the one to utter the tale. Most of the time, however, he only wishes to recite the final page. When it’s only me and my son, I’m not ashamed to admit I skip as many pages as I can get away with. But, now that Warrior Queen is privy to the routine, I wouldn’t dream of stealing one moment. Little Man half attends to the story most days, but Warrior Queen hangs on every page…every word, and my full attention is watching her every entranced expression. My son often tries to have his sister lay down next to him…or on him. She usually wants no part of it.
(Warrior Queen just wants to hear the rest of the story!)
Little Man acquiesces relatively quickly to her needs…I think he loves her enjoyment of the story as much as I. I can’t explain it, but this small moment might be one of my favorites in any given day. It’s a quick blur, but I try to absorb each second hoping that it will stretch out longer than it ever does.
As territorial as he can be, my son adores having his sister play in his room now. Many days he requests that they have these private play sessions behind his closed bedroom door…she almost never cries for the short time these exchanges last. But, I think for them this infinitesimal period ranks above most of their times together. Sometimes I watch them through the monitor. I know they are okay…Warrior Queen will inform the entire house if she isn’t, but I simply enjoy watching them exist together without my influence.
(This is what I can expect when the cherubs are left to their own devices behind a closed door…)
And, finally there is the sharing. Mr. Man is truly wonderful at sharing…on his terms…and when he isn’t in need of a nap. Outside of our home sharing is a nonissue to a relatively perfect degree. Having friends over I’ve had to be creative. It’s a new routine…before anyone arrives I have my son select five toys that will remain out of his friend’s reach with the expectation that everything else will be fair game. We will spend a good amount time reviewing play conditions before any arrival. It isn’t a perfect system, but it’s the most successful intervention in this arena thus far. Toy sharing with his sister is always a mixed bag with Little Man. Usually he attempts to force random toys on Warrior Queen regardless of her interest. But, so often when my son is eating something he enjoys…even if it’s cookies or ice-cream, or it’s something he knows his little sister appreciates; he independently takes a piece from whatever is his to give to her. He will insist she partake…whether she likes it or not.