Friday, May 16, 2008
Will's arrival was not the easiest development in the life of Andrew Cannon. We endured months of bouts of jealousy, instances of slapping, reversion to baby-like behavior (only really annoying) and clingyness with me. By Christmas, Andrew was pretty used to Will. I wouldn't say that he ignored the baby, because he did talk about him a lot and show concern for him ("Our baby is crying! Help him!"), and sometimes even affection ("He's a funny baby. I love you so much baby Will.") But I think we have turned a corner even still: Andrew now genuinely wants baby Will around.
I realized recently that I have simply expected my two boys to be best friends. If they are not close as they grow up, I know it will be one of the biggest disappointments of my life. I realize that isn't quite fair, but that is how I feel now. Hopefully the boys will sense my desires and, at minimum, feel guilted into closeness.
It should be easy and natural, though. They have so much in common. Will is like a tiny, skinny version of his big brother. I am saving a post on Will's Six Month Milestones to go into more detail, but he really is a mini Andrew (but a little bit of an easier nature insofar as sleeping and eating are concerned). I am hoping that he displays Andrew's AFV sense of humor. Next time I trip in Will's presence, I will have to be sure to gauge his reaction. At around Will's age, Andrew would go from crying to laughing at any of my misfortunes. Almost choking to death in the car (me) really lightened his mood one day and turned the shrieking from being trapped in a car seat into peals of joyful laughter. He couldn't even see me.
Anyway, but I want to relate the secret to getting my older son to love and want to be around my baby son. Andrew loves attention. Most of our life together has consisted of me narrating his activities as he engages in them. Sometimes a little bit tedious for me, but absolutely essential in his world. In the last 6 months, his toys have begun to participate in the narration, or at least talk to him. (Some of my body parts are likewise treated as separate talking entities, and my feet, for example, often have to carry on conversations with his feet, or admire his basketball games.) I realized that the way to Andrew's heart was through his ego. So I let Baby Will in on the dialouge, and Andrew cannot get enough.
Baby Will spends his whole day describing what Andrew is doing and exclaiming over how "awesome" and "amazing" his brother and the activity his brother is engaged in are. Baby Will speaks in a really high-pitched voice. Andrew refers to it as "A tiny, tiny baby voice," and if I leave Baby Will silent too long, Andrew will guide me: "Have Baby Will talk in his tiny, tiny voice and say . . . " and Andrew supplies the necessary praise in a really high pitched annoying voice which I sometimes can't understand. But I know basically what he wants, so I talk about how much Will loves him and how awesome Andrew is.
It has worked wonderfully. Andrew now hugs Baby Will, tries really hard to make Baby Will laugh, kisses him and tickles him. He tells him they will be best friends when he gets bigger, and promises to teach him how to play basketball and racing, again, when he is bigger. Today he promised to show him how to be so awesome . . . when he is bigger.
Inducting Baby Will into Andrew's vast fan club of puppets, cars and stuffed animals, all of whom speak through my voice, has totally changed their relationship. Because Will worships and adores Andrew, Andrew now sends those feelings right back. And the best part is that, while I am the one saying the words, it is obvious that Baby Will's feelings for Andrew are just as I describe. Nothing makes him smile and laugh and start flapping around more than the sight of his big brother (or maybe a balloon).
Hopefully this means that there will be no repeat of the incident of a few days ago. I left the room to get a glass of water and heard the normal sounds of playing. Then I heard Andrew's voice calling out urgently, "I'm sorry, Baby! I'm sorry! You're ok, baby Will! You are!" I rushed back into the room to find that everything was basically as I had left it. Curious, I asked Andrew why he was apologizing. "Because I hit Baby William," Andrew replied, highlighting one of Will's best qualities: he is really not a complainer.
As the years go by and the boys approximate each other in size, or at least in ability to fight back and defend themselves, and as they grow into genuine playmates, I will have to remember how it all began and let Will get a few free punches in.