There is always so much hubub with a new baby. The new! It is new! So many firsts, so much to report on and explore! But all along things have been happening with the first born. We brought Fae home from the hospital and it was as if Gabe had grown 3 inches overnight. He went from two year old toddler to almost-a-kid over the summer. We’ve been living with that almost-practically-basically-a-kid ever since.
And at first I think we were all kind of shell-shocked about have another human in the house. We were all in survival mode. then, after a few weeks, once Gabe realized that the baby who was cute… but also taking up a lot of mental energy (not to mention the physical space of his parent’s arms) wasn’t actually going to leave, things changed a little bit. Aside from maybe 2 instances where Gabe was frustrated that his little sister existed in the same space he is in, his transitional jealousy has never been directed at her. And he wasn’t really ever mad at us about bringing an invader into his baby-realm. He just got super super needy.
Neediness on a capable 36 pound toddler-child-hybrid while you have an absolutely, completely helpless newborn to lug around is… the… fucking… worst. Suddenly, the kid who could barely stand a stroller, who wanted to fling himself down stairs and not walk, but run as much as possible… suddenly that kid wanted to be carried everywhere. Suddenly Mr. Thrill Seeker was afraid of everything. Zoo trips became marathons of Kamel and I taking turns carrying king potato sack around. Any little thing that went wrong in his weird OCD toddler brain meant he was suddenly glued to us. And I mean, frantic clinging glue. Too windy at the playground? “UPPY UPPY UPPPPPPPPPPPPPY” while clawing at my legs. That always looks good on a parent. The panicked child trying to climb their parent’s pant leg because of wind while all the other children play like nothing is wrong. Yay!
The worst was having to very literally drag him out of a restaurant as he threw a massive tantrum because we very literally could not pick him up right at that second. We had a stroller to carry out (too crowded to unfold and wheel), and a carseat with a sleeping baby in it to lug out. Plus two diapers bags. There were no hands and most certainly not enough strength to also carry Gabriel. Who was refusing to walk. At peak dinner time. On a Friday. So I mom-ed hard. I mom-ed real hard. I did the upper arm grab-and-drag and when we got to the car I did the squat down and get really close to his face hiss-whisper, “That was NOT OK. You are in BIG TROUBLE.”
This sounds like maybe we aren’t totally sympathetic, but we are. We tried our hardest to keep Gabriel’s routines in tact. We made sure to give him as much attention as possible after school, to make sure he had one-on-one time with both of us at bed time. We kept encouraging him to try new things, despite his apparent terror at everything. We picked him up when he needed us to pick him up and when we had arms. We didn’t always have arms. Parents of new humans sometimes just don’t have any arms.
I really didn’t know what the hell was going on during the peak of this behavior. I figured it was control. I figured it was being two. I figured it would hopefully, please god, get better by three. And then one day it just stopped. Being held just stopped. Wearing a hood or a hat makes the wind less freaky in his ears when he plays outside in the winter. At the zoo he is back to running half a block ahead of us and asking for uppy only so he can get a better look at the lions. He prefers the stairs to the elevators. And when he hears Fae crying he mostly has to stop what he’s doing and “go find his Fae.” It only took a little over 5 months of transition. Almost half a year of phase. Of crappy wtf phase. And now its better.
During that time Gabe has also transitioned to a toddler bed and is 99% potty trained! He goes to the bathroom by himself to pee! And only wears a diaper at night! No accidents at school! It’s fantastic. The road to potty training is another story. A story that is both so stressful and so shockingly easy. Being the caretakers of small people is so weird. Hopefully if my intention remains to create independent, non-fucked-up grownups we will all turn out ok in the end.