Babies were the main topic of conversation at Grandma’s house this week. As her parents completed preparations to welcome her new brothers, Jet has been thinking hard about the two babies in mama’s belly and how they will affect her life.
We found a book at the library called Little Miss, Big Sis that seemed to strike such a chord with Jet that I’ve lost track of the number of times we’ve read it. The words in the book are few, but well chosen. The pictures are general enough that I can ad-lib to personalize the story to fit Jet’s own situation. Just like the little girl in the book, Jet’s been waiting a long time! She’s counting down the last three weeks until she becomes a big sister, putting a sticker on our calendar to mark each day.
Jet can see that mama’s belly has grown large and understands that she will need to go to the hospital so the babies can be born. Her bag has been packed so she can stay with her grandparents when the time comes. She knows that Grandma or Papa will drive her to the hospital to see her mama and the babies and that she’ll need to be gentle with her brothers and careful of the big boo-boo mama will have on her belly. The book tells her that the babies will spend most of their time sleeping, fussing and eating. She laughs at this idea, but I assure her it is true.
Jet has plans for her role in the new order. She’s going to hold the babies and help change them by getting diapers and wipes. She has a list of songs she plans to sing to them, including Amazing Grace, “Baby Bumblebee, and Itsy Bitsy Spider. She wants to play “This Little Piggy Went to Market” and “Pat-A-Cake” with them. Just like the girl in the book, she hopes to comfort them when they cry and entertain them with puppets.
Her dolls and toy bottles, bed and high chair have been well used. Jet rocks her babies and hushes their cries. She changes their diapers and swaddles them in blankets. Real-life babies and mothers in her immediate circle of family and friends have provided excellent role-models for what she can expect from her new siblings but they have also caused her to perceive some advantages in babyhood. She has begun to ask to be held and fed “like a baby.”
As the oldest child in my family, my heart goes out to her at the thought she may feel her happy position usurped by two interlopers and that the attention identical twins typically receive could add insult to any injury she feels. On the positive side, however, Jet is secure in her position as only granddaughter among nine grandchildren on her paternal side and will always be our first grandchild and possibly only granddaughter as well.
I comfort myself with the thought that her Papa and I will heap love and attention on her to bolster her sense of security, but Jet is already thinking one step ahead of me. She assertively informs me, “When we get our babies, Grandma will hold them and mama and daddy hold Jet!”
“Sometimes I’ll do that, but sometimes your mama and daddy will hold the babies too.”
“No, Grandma do it.” She shakes her head forcefully. If she has to share someone, she’s apparently decided I’m the one. It’s not going to be mom or dad.
“Don’t worry,” I tell her, “Mama and daddy will hold you too!”