Make no beans about it, transitioning from one to two kids is hard. And for those folks that have three, four and more kids, I am in awe of your parental prowess. You have more children than arms, a prospect that terrifies me beyond belief. I don’t even know how you manage it.
While going to the grocery store with both kids in tow takes nerves of steel, I will say that watching my two kids together is one of the most joyful experiences I have ever had. Provided that they’re actually getting along.
You see, my kids are either so good together that my ovaries throb in a rhythmic cadence that sounds like “have another baby, have another baby” as I reach for my phone to document their adorable play time.
Or they’re so bad together that it’s like watching two feral street cats fight over a semi-empty can of tuna salvaged from a dumpster. When they’re bad they are totally rotten. Like you can’t even turn your back after reprimanding them before one is hitting the other or taking a toy away. On those days, after intervening for the umpteenth timeI silently retreat to let the carnage unfold telling myself that the strongest one will prevail and we will be left with the child most likely to survive and thrive this world.
Two years into this double duty and the silver lining is finally starting to show and I can see the benefit of having two kids close in age. They actually play together now – hooray for mom! They hold their own conversations. They make jokes amongst one another. And they totally idolize one another. When they’re not trying to kill each other that is.
The good between them is so so good. I randomly caught them hugging one day while AJR whispered “I love you, baby sister.” Olivia actually misses AJR when he’s at school and she’s not. Last week she spent the whole time in the car looking over at his carseat asking “Where An-knee go?” While we were shopping at Trader Joe’s I let her put a mini pumpkin in her cart and she insisted on getting a pumpkin for her brother. Before you start saying “aw”, this sweet tale quickly turned sour when I made the rookie mistake of not purchasing two pumpkins of equal size and color. Predictably, an epic battle was waged over the larger pumpkin with the more desirable stem length.
AJR does everything in his power to make sure his baby sister is happy. It’s either love or he’s as tired as I am of her losing her shit over everything. I’ve witnessed him sharing his precious, remaining fruit snacks with Olivia when she’s inhaled hers and cries because they’re gone. He gives her hugs and tries to make her laugh when all of my attempts are failed. And he’s good at it. He really is. There are times when I give up and leave her to work out all of her toddler angst. Somehow, some way, he coaxes her out of her pint-sized bitch fit and makes her smile again.
With these two distance makes the heart grow fonder. I always pick AJR up first from school and then we head over to Olivia’s classroom. Their greeting always gives me Jello knees – Olivia runs full throttle into his open arms yelling “ANNNN KNNNEEEEEEEE!” Guys, it’s only been 2.5 hours. Let’s try and lock it up. Who am I kidding? I sit there grinning like a total idiot as I watch their tight embrace and pretend that they’re this sweet all the time.
There is no in between. Things are either this sickeningly sweet or it’s like The Hunger Games in our house. Olivia is strong-willed at times. And by strong-willed, I mean a total asshole. If she’s tired, hungry, or generally displeased, she goes on a mission to make sure that AJR’s life is miserable. She hits, bites, and slaps his toys away in such ruthless fashion that even I become a little scared of her. I have literally watched her creep over to him when he’s unaware, her little hand outstretched ready to bring down the pain on his unsuspecting skull. Thankfully two children has forced me to develop superhero-like speed and agility so I have no problem intercepting it but her pre-mediation is unsettling.
AJR is no saint. There’s a lot of “No Olivia! Go away!” Or “no baby sisters allowed!” He likes to reprimand her and tell her she won’t get certain things if she doesn’t stop XYZ, which causes her to totally lose it. He is quick to drop her when his friends are around – little sisters can be so annoying, am I right?? He’s also landed some pretty savage kicks to her midsection, but why bring up things from the past?
Then there are the hundreds of times per day where they lure me into a false sense of security and think I can start doing something around the house while they play nicely. Only to be interrupted moments later by screams, tears, or shouts for mom.
I love watching my kids as individuals and reveling in the differences that make them unique. However there is something so wonderful and simultaneously frustrating about their blossoming sibling relationship. Together they can make the playroom look like a hotel room after an 80s rock band stayed there. And that’s on a day when they’re actually getting along. Their giggles make up for it most of the time, so I guess every rose has its thorn. (see what I did there…)
I often wonder how it’ll be in a few years – will they be as close as two siblings of the same sex would be? Is their close age difference enough to keep the bond strong? Will they still get along during their volatile teenage years and beyond?
That’s something totally out of my control but I hope that AJR always remains protective of his baby sister. I hope that as much as they annoy one another that deep down they remain friends and continue to have that one person that will always be there for them no matter what. You know, besides their super embarrassing parents. I may roll my eyes roughly two thousand times a day when they’re bickering, but boy do I love their love for each other.