I have no idea what I'm doing.
In Delaware I taught a prenatal class on how to best prepare children for the birth of a new sibling. It was delightful. I know babies. Sure, I've only had two of them, but I feel confident that I know what to do with them, for the most part. I know how to love them, smell their heads, swaddle their bodies, rub their baby skin, and breastfeed them, and I loved sharing all the wonders of new babies with excited older children. We made crafts, played with dollies, and whispered to each other about how much we loved babies.
It turns out that I only really know a thing or two about siblings when one of those siblings is a new baby. I need some help, and I need it now. Can someone please tell me what I'm supposed to do with grown-up baby siblings, because I truly have no idea. I was an only child growing up and so I can't even rely on a distant muscle memory of living with brothers or sisters. I have memories of my friends arguing a lot with their siblings, so I've filed that under "normal" in the daily sibling behaviour category, but I need more data.
Here's what I know so far: Alyce and Shira love each other a ton. It's not even unidirectional. I expect that Shira adores her big, bright, and bouncing older sister, but the feeling, it seems, is mutual. Take our evening Snack and Show. Every night after dinner Alyce has Snack and Show, wherein she snuggles into my mum's bed with, you got it, a snack and a show. Until last week this has always been a solo event for Alyce, a great way to keep her busy while I nurse Shira before bed. But since Shira insists on growing up, it has become obvious that she's ready to join Alyce. The two of them enjoy their snacks side by side, and only sometimes argue over Toopy and Binou (Shira) and The Backyardigans (Alyce).
Snack and Show I can handle. Even my mum and stepfather put up with crumbs in their bed every night. I have this sibling event down.
But taunting each other throughout every meal, I'm not sure what to do with that. Don't get me wrong, it makes me giggle sometimes. But parents of siblings: does this ever stop? Of course it won't. I don't even know why I'm asking. They've discovered a new hobby, these two, and it's called "how much of my food can I shove back out of my mouth to gross out my sister." Other recent mealtime hobbies include, but are not limited to, sneaking food off the other sister's plate, throwing the watermelon at the dog, and, my personal favourite, the "who can yell the loudest?" game. Yes, I'll keep working on manners, but let's face it. It's going to be a losing battle.
I've also been introduced to the horror endured by the older sibling over the younger one tagging along at every turn. Alyce had settled in for some floor baking with her Nana the other day, and it took all of five minutes before Shira insisted on joining in. I have to say, Alyce took it well. But it doesn't always go down like that. Yesterday Alyce had approximately 4,864 meltdowns because Shira wanted all of her favourites. I was endlessly annoyed that Alyce wouldn't just share, but when I thought about it for a minute I realized that it must be a hard lesson for older siblings, and often a losing battle. The baby always gets the sympathy of the parent. Older siblings out there? Please send help.
I think I'm also just not used to the LOUD. That's not going to go away either, is it? I'm coming to terms with it all because, well, I like my family. But I think I just need a little encouragement, a nudge here and there to remind me how to be a parent of siblings. I don't need help loving them both, but I do need some assistance in the "is this normal" category of parenting. Is it normal that Alyce shoved Shira out of her way this morning leading to a cut lip on Shira's face? Probably, it was pretty minor and Alyce felt terrible for doing it. She sang Shira endless songs while Shira nursed the pain away. Is it normal that Shira tried to smother Alyce with a place mat during lunch today? I expect it is. Either way, I'll be waiting for your help.
One last thing: I have come to appreciate the ingenuity of an older sister trying to defend against the destruction of a younger one. Alyce spent an hour building a castle on the kitchen floor the other night, a glorious structure of which she was very proud. After suffering a few destructive blows from Shira, Alyce solved the problem by surrounding her palace with barricades (kitchen chairs). I really respect that girl.