Sunday, April 3, 2011

We're working on it

Alyce and I have had a tough couple of months at home. We've stolen some wonderful days together, but her time spent at home with me and Shira since leaving daycare has sparked a new round of sibling jealously. Daycare gave Alyce a place of her own, with teachers who loved her and lots of little friends she looked forward to seeing each morning. I know that she felt special there and at times I feel guilty for bringing her home with me full-time, but then I remind myself that there are worse things for a three year old than staying home with family who love her. I know she's enjoying our new routines at home, but to say that the transition has been rough is an understatement. I imagine that the trials of being the older sister are defined by the sometimes tragic reality that your younger sister is going to get in your way. It's a lot to get used to.

I really have no business thinking that I can teach a class about preparing siblings for the birth of a new baby.

When Shira was first born, Alyce wouldn't hug me. For a week. She was very happy to have a little sister, but was less happy that I had agreed to be a mama to them both. Maybe she expected us to bring home an additional mama for the new baby? I'll admit, I wouldn't turn down the extra set of hands. In Alyce's first few weeks as a big sister she started hitting me, and only me, all the time. I was a bit devastated (and hormonal) that my sweet, sweet Alyce was acting a bit like a thug. With her mama. Who gave birth to her and nursed her for twenty-two months. Her hitting and general disdain for a shared mama disappeared after a month or two, though at the time it felt like a year or two. Well, now it feels like a decade or two because she's back to hitting me again, and now she's hitting Shira too. To be clear: sometimes she's just standing on top of Shira, or bending her arm backward, or squeezing very hard, but however you classify it, it's feeling out of control some days. 

Friday, the day of this photo, was one of those days. In an effort to reign in the crazy we bundled up and started on a walk, only to be greeted by heavy rain. So we returned home, build a fort in the living room, and collapsed under it. At this point I had lost count of how many times Alyce had hit the two of us, sometimes in anger, sometimes for no reason at all (though I don't actually believe that. I just don't know the reason). Alyce is a delicious child who entertains so many people with her sweet silliness. Just today friends told us that watching Alyce makes them want to have their own children. I beam, of course, because I know it's true. She's an amazing little thing of a girl who I couldn't love more. I know she's special. But I also know that this week she hit me and her sister constantly. And it sucks. I look at this photo and I see just how exasperated I feel in these moments, but I also see how much I love her.

I think the best thing to do now is to keep reminding her that we don't hit and remind her of the consequences of her actions (I just need to figure out what these consequences should be). I don't ever want Alyce to think that hitting is good way to show someone that you're mad. She will have to learn how to use words (I'd accept a poem, too, or even a typed list) to express her feelings and that's that. And then I should probably relax and just admit that parenting is tricky some days. I should remind myself to cut me some slack when I react poorly in these moments. I don't know about you, but telling myself to relax about something rarely works. I can be very stubborn. But I'll be the first to say it:


Anyone else have experience with hitting? Should I buy protective gear for Shira?


  1. Oooooh, the hitting. Yeah, we've got that, too. It was a huge problem when Ben was younger - even before Jude came along, so I guess maybe you might be a little encouraged to hear that in our case at least, it had nothing to do with Ben being jealous of Jude or resentful towards me because of him, but more to do with Ben just being 3 and being at that difficult transitional period between feeling frustration and obviously not having enough emotional maturity to be able to process it by any other means.

    It's just one of those things, and I'm happy to report that it didn't last forever. It sometimes even now rears its ugly head but we try and reinforce and reward kind behaviour and HELLS YEAH to the naughty step if that doesn't work.

    What also sometimes works is reminding Ben that one day, Jude will be big enough to fight back! :-)

    Good luck, Mama... this too shall pass.

  2. Thanks, my dear. This is very good advice.