The Other Shoe

5.28.07: A sibling unraveled


The other shoe has dropped. Big time.

Julia's no longer quite so crazy about her new baby brother. She's finally reached the end of her patient-big-sister rope, and is now yanking on the end of it in a full-scale tug-of-war battle of the wills with me and Will.

Case in point:

Me: "Julia, it's time for [bed/a bath/getting dressed/brushing hair/insert daily activity of your choice]."


(Big breath. Count to ten. Make that 20.)

When I inform her that, yes, she will in fact do whatever it is that I'm asking her to do, I'm met with the full force of her incredibly strong will: a full-blown, red-faced, tear-streaked, body-flailing tantrum.

It's the same when Julia's with Will, or with one of her babysitters. When I came down from my office after work the other day, Julia greeted me with this little tidbit:

Julia: "Mama, I already had a time out." (As in: "Save yourself the trouble, lady, because I already had one, ya dig?)

Me: "Why, Juje?"

Julia: "I can't tell you."

Me: "Do I have to guess?"

Julia: "OK"

Me: "Did you say '‘No' to Wendy?"

Julia: "No"

Me: "Did you kick Wendy?"

Julia: "No."

Me: "Did you hit Charlie?"

Julia, coyly: "Mmmm Hmmm. With my underwear."

Ah hem.

Coping mechanisms

While I am quick to blame myself for Julia's behavior, ("Am I doing something wrong? Am I being too hard on her? Am I being a pushover? Am I not simply being here enough for her?) I know that this is all par for the course when a new baby comes along, and that Julia's dealing with no longer being the center of our attention. And, she has let us know her frustrations in more verbal ways. Like the time she told a friend of ours that "Charlie is Emma's brother," (referring to her 3-year-old buddy, Emma, who also has a new baby brother.) Or, the time she told me: "Mama, I like you. I like Dada. I like my dolls and my animals. I like the doctor's office. I DO NOT LIKE MY BROTHER!" (It's all a little Sam-I-Am).

When I ask her to tell me more about how she's feeling, she'll say: "Sometimes I like Charlie, and sometimes I don't. So, that's what's happening right now."

"Fair enough," I think. A girl's entitled to her feelings. And Julia is smart enough to know what she's feeling. I wish I could be as forth-coming with my own feelings. Think about it: how great would it feel, the next time someone really gets on your nerves, to just start screaming: "I DO NOT LIKE YOU! YOU DRIVE ME CRAZY!"

Ok, I probably won't. But, it does feel good.

For now, I'm trying to be the adult in the picture. When Julia gives us a hard time, I'm trying to keep in mind what a hard time she is having. I'm trying to spend as much quality time with her as I can, and I'm trying to constantly remind her how much we love her.

Still, when Charlie starts screaming, and Julia starts screaming, and the cacaphony in my throbbing brain makes me want to start screaming, it's all I can do to take a deep breath, take a step back, and remind myself that this, too, shall pass.

Join's Managing Editor Dana Rousmaniere each week as she chronicles life with a new baby.

Read the next entry: 6.4.07: My Picture-Perfect Kids