If things go according to plan, today will be my last day as the father of an only child. More importantly, tomorrow will be the first day of my son’s life as a big brother.
While Mom and Buried and I are learning all over again what it’s like to live with a newborn, my son will be exploring the brave new world of being a big brother. There will be jealousy. There will be territorial spats. Eventually, if his relationship with his brother is anything like every other sibling relationship, there will be wrestling.
Hopefully, there will not be blood.
So far, all signs point to Detective Munch being a good big brother.
After some early speed bumps – tears when we told him he was having a brother, tears when we told him we weren’t naming him “Toilet” – he’s been remarkably enthusiastic. He’s excited to meet the little guy, talks about wanting to snuggle with him, and keeps referring to him as “our baby.” Once you get past the disturbing Oedipal ramifications of that thought pattern, it’s actually pretty adorable. (It will also come in handy when the baby arrives. “You handle it, after all, he’s YOUR baby too!”)
Over the last nine months, I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about how having another kid will affect me, and my life, and my sleep schedule, and my bank account, and my will to live. But I’ve been through it, and regardless of how little my prior experience will do to prepare me, it’s something. Detective Munch has nothing.
Not only does he need to learn about having a brother – i.e., sharing living space and clothes and toys and affection and attention with another person – he also needs to learn about babies in general – e.g., that they’re useless for the first nine months, and pretty damn boring for at least the first three (unless you’re into strange-colored poop). Once the novelty wears off, there are sure to be some growing pains.
Despite his excitement about The Hammer’s arrival (and his fondness for babies in general), at some point there’s going to be a rude awakening. He’s going to discover that not only will he not be playing with his new little brother for a while, not only will he not be talking with his little brother for quite some time, he won’t be doing much of anything with his new little brother for years. The fallout from that discovery is what we have to steel ourselves for. I mean, Detective Munch is already bored of most of the toys he got two weeks ago, and they’re actually fun!
Regardless of how well he’s been taking it in the lead-up to his arrival, there are plenty of questions yet to be answered: How will he react when the baby wakes him up? How will he react when we need to tend to the baby instead of him? How will he react when I teach him how to change a diaper? How will he react when I tell him babysitting pays two dollars an hour and he’s lucky he’s getting anything at all?
We want to make sure we handle this transition correctly, so we’ve been keeping him involved, reading him the “big brother” books, letting him make some decisions (like choosing The Hammer’s lovey), and generally including him every step of the way. Because if we don’t properly prepare our five-year-old for what will be a fairly long and slow road to a real relationship with his new sibling, our well-laid plan for him to be his brother’s keeper – and thereby lighten our parenting load! – will come crashing down!
I refuse to let that happen.
So… anyone have any advice?