Saturday, January 31, 2009

Telling Joshua

Our 2 ½ year old son constantly amazes me. He is simultaneously loving, ornery, helpful, precocious, inquisitive, and sometimes naughty. But he constantly makes us laugh and serves to put things in perspective. How can you not find something positive to say when a little innocent face looks at you over the dinner table & asks, “what was fun for you today, Mom?” Never mind that your in-box is out of control, your co-worker just quit, you have 11 phone messages you didn’t have time to return AND it just took you 15 minutes to convince your son that yes, it is necessary to wash hands before dinner – especially since you have just filled the dog’s food dish with your hands.

So how to tell a 2 ½ year old that he will soon be the big brother of not one, not two, but three babies? To answer this question we turned to our old comfort; research. But even the Internet failed us on this one. Resources are scarce on how to tell a little person who has been the center of your world for his entire life that things are going to change so drastically that even his Mom & Dad can’t put into words how radically this is going to shake up life. In fact, Mom & Dad can barely grasp how they are going to handle this…let alone how they are going to help you handle this.

Left to our own devices, we developed a simple plan; buy a few books, talk about babies a lot & wait for the “perfect moment” to present itself. Of course, there was no perfect moment & while “The Bernstain Bears’ New Baby” is cute, Joshua seemed to gravitate more to Papa Bear’s wood working skills as opposed to Mama Bear’s growing tummy. When we found out the babies’ genders, we decided it was finally concrete enough to tell him. Over dinner that night we asked Joshua whether he would like to have babies in the house. He said yes & seemed excited. We were on a roll! Then we asked him if he would like to have three babies in the house. The immediate answer was, “Nooooo,” thus things went downhill fast. So we switched gears & said if we had three babies in the house, that would be one for Mommy, one for Daddy & one for Joshua and Haley. He pondered this for a moment. Nothing seemed to register so we flat out said, there are three babies growing in Mommy’s tummy & they are going to come and live with us after a while when they are done growing. Still nothing seemed to register & he asked to be excused and it was off to playing.

The next day as he and I were driving to the library for story time, out of the blue he said, “I don’t know what our babies’ names are.” My heart leaped & my mind shouted - HE GOT IT!! HE UNDERSTOOD!! As calmly as possible I told him that we didn’t have names yet and that was one of our jobs over the next few months. Always the helper he suggested “Shadow.” I told him we’d think about it. :-)

Now he will happily tell you that we are having three babies – two boy babies and one girl baby – and that it will take a while for them to get here. It is pretty much a non-issue to him right now & we’re OK with that. In the end, there is no way to really prepare him (or ourselves) completely for this, so we’ll just count on the adaptability and resiliency of children and just love him all the more.

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