Three's Not a Crowd

                                                   SOPHIA - 19

(Synopsis:  Sibling rivalry can create Terrorism or produce the seeds of Vigilance.   In this story, G-Ma Lori takes the reader on a journey through the challenges of a new baby displacing an "old baby."  What happens when 'just turned four'-year-old Sarah finds out she has a new brother instead of a sister, and "he" has taken command of the "baby-in-the-house" position?   Parenting is about balancing the fairness between all children, making each special, and treating new additions to the family as one more "Angel of Vigilance."   But, it requires Courage, Conviction and Right Actions.   G-Ma's history of growing up as the "only girl" in a "boys" world was full of the Terror of not "fitting in" and forever being a tag-a-long.   She shares with Sarah the joy of her new baby brother, and helps her make the transition to "Three Is Not  A Crowd."


G-Ma Lori 
August, 2002

      "Matt and Sarah, your daddy just called from the birthing center. You have a new brother.  His name is Angus Martin."   I hung up the phone, and squeezed my husband's hand.  We shared the receiver to listen in on our son-in-law's excited news.
"G-Ma, I'm so happy I could cry." 

      Six-year-old Matt ran to his four-year-old sister, Sarah, and hugged her hard.  They both danced around the room.  Sarah's face beamed and her bright brown eyes danced joyously.  Matt's exuberant statement was not unexpected.  It fit his caring, loving self.   The two twirled around the room, as though featured stars at an Irish Step dance festival.  Matt led and Sarah deftly followed until both excited bodies crashed into the couch and fell on it giggling, still hugging one another.

        "C'mon kids, lets get our shoes on and take a taxi over and meet Angus."  It was 9:40 p.m. and Matt and Sarah both wore their pj's.   Prior to the phone call, they had been ready for bed.  The timing was perfect and G-Pa and I were as eager to see little Angus as the kids.  We both looked forward to the looks on the grandkids' faces when they met their brother for the first time.

      Little Angus is a Nine Eleven baby.  His mommy and daddy brought life to the doorstep of Terror.  In the midst of a holocaust, they heard the Sentinels of Vigilance whispering to them that life must go on.  Their third child is a "Baby of Vigilance," conceived with Courage, Conviction and Right Actions...versus the Fear, Intimidation and Complacency some might have about bringing a child into a world seething with the smoke of horror.

        Instead of showing their maternal and fraternal pain in front of Matt and Sarah, they took Right Action and seeded the promise of life with newness and growth.  Their family garden-nourished by the belief in the good of humanity--would not dry out, be untended, untilled.  Their decision to have a child in the wake of Nine Eleven stands as a symbol that love flourishes and growth blooms with promise and survival.  The weeds of Terrorism are not welcome in their garden.  They refuse to let the offal ensnarl the roots of the faith that the family is the key to the future, or that family rules only when it thrives in a garden of goodness.

       "Sarah, do you want to take your baby doll with you?" I gave my dear princess a little extra hug and hoped she would be okay with a new brother.  During our daughter's pregnancy, Sarah believed she carried a baby in her tummy like her mommy.  She talked to her "pretend" baby, lovingly patting her tummy--"a girl baby just like mommy's baby" she said over and over.   She asserted her baby would 'come out' the same time as her mommy's.  Thankfully, Sarah didn't mention her baby as we bundled up to get in the taxi. Even better, Matt didn't tease her by asking her where her baby was.

      "No, G-Ma. I don't want to take my doll. I want to see angel Angus.  I don't need my baby to come."  Sarah took my hand and we all left for the birthing center.  I took a deep breath.

         Sarah's parents were vigilantly working on the transition from a two-child household to a three-child one.  They too well remembered Matt's initial trauma when he woke up in the middle of the night on Sarah's first night home and saw his mommy breast-feeding Sarah.

      "That's my milk.  Take her back...back to the hospital. I want her out of here. I want all of you out -out-out!"

      My daughter and her husband didn't want a similar scenario with Sarah anguishing over "intruder" baby Angus.

      While babysitting for my grandkids a few weeks earlier, I toweled off Sarah after her tubby.  "Carry me like a baby, G-Ma.  Wrap me in my bear hood-towel and carry me over to the daddy chair and hold me like a baby, please."  I scooped up my damp little bear and snuggled her over to the designated love spot.  There, I rocked her in my arms.

      "Daddy says I am not a baby.  Can I be your baby, G-Ma"?

      "Sarah, you know you will always be my special brown-eyed girl, like your mommy and your auntie E".  We were enjoying our cozy comfort until Matt launched one of his dinosaur attacks.

     "Watch out for the Velociraptor, G-Ma.  It's racing to chew you and Sarah up.  Did you know the raptors are the fastest of the dinosaurs?"  That put an end to 'baby' Sarah getting rocked by G-Ma.

      Sarah no longer wore pull-up diapers even at night. Over six months ago she had been reluctantly weaned off her nightly 'ba-ba'.  Her parents, hopefully, had programmed her the new baby was to be the only "baby," and that Sarah was to make "gentle" room for the new arrival.

      Our taxi deposited us on the corner, and with the sounds of New York City swirling through the night air, we entered the birthing center and waited a short time until the midwife informed us we could all join Angus, his parents, and Auntie "E", the mommy's sister.  Aunt "E" is single, and had been royally invited to be there for the delivery-her first.

       As we entered the delivery room's bed and breakfast type environment, Sarah and Matt raced over and tried to climb on the bed where their parents held their new baby brother.  Their daddy firmly yet gently settled them in the double-sized king birthing bed so they could enjoy the new flower in their family garden.  The first meeting was a success in every way.  They were a happy, healthy, joyous family; truly a perfect blooming garden.

      When asked, Matt couldn't remember when Sarah joined the family.  He very much wanted a baby brother.  "G-Ma, the baby must be a boy."  He groaned. "A girl baby will gang up with Sarah and tease and torment me more than ever.  Uggghhhhh."

      "Matt, it does seem as though Sarah is grabbing toys from you more than usual and teasing you.  I think she is thinking she will lose her place as the special baby in the family when the baby is born.  We'll have to help her when the baby arrives.  I remember when she was born and you were so angry and wanted her to go back to the hospital.  Can you try and do that?  Can you help Sarah get used to the new baby?"

      "Sure, G-Ma.  Mommy doesn't have three hands to hold all our hands.  It will be okay if I just hold onto Sarah's hand and mommy can hold onto her hand and the new baby's."
Matt continued in his amazingly grownup and thoughtful manner.  "G-Ma, can Sarah and I bring some of our small toys over to your apartment to keep for us after the baby is born.  Mommy said we would have to put away the small stuff because the baby might put things in its mouth.  I told her it was fine with me to put them away, but," he paused, glancing up at me, " I don't want to never play with them again."

 "Dear, thoughtful Matt, you bet.  G-Pa and I will be happy to keep any of your toys at our apartment.  You probably won't have to assemble them and store them with until the baby learns to crawl.  Thank you for helping out your mommy thinking ahead like you do."

   I smiled at the proud little-man-look on his sun-kissed face.  I loved how healthy both Matt and Sarah looked during the summer months.  Their suntanned glow added fresh sparkle into their already shining eyes.

       Birthing centers are great resources for healthy babies, healthy mommies and births that aren't too taxing.  Angus and his mommy were home that same night.  Matt and Sarah slept over at our apartment and spent most of the next day with us giving Angus time to adjust.  Well, maybe it was giving his parents time to adjust.

      "Does he look like me, G-Ma, or Sarah?"

      Matt put his face nose to nose on Angus pushing ever so gently.  "Be careful, Matt," Daddy Joe cautioned.  Don't head butt Angus.  You are a Pachyacephalosaurus (hard head dinosaur) to him and can hurt his new soft head  if you're not careful."

      "I'll be careful, Daddy.  ROOOOOAAAAAARRRRRRRR.  I can hardly wait until Angus can play dinosaurs with me."

      "I don't want to play with him at all.  I don't want to play with anybody.  I want to be alone."  Sarah wilted to the floor.  She reached up and grabbed my pant leg.  "G-Ma will be my mommy.  I want to live at your house.  Can I G-Ma?"

      My heart ached for my sweet flower.  I knelt down and gathered the sorrowful petals of my sad Sarah into the basket  of my arms.  I knew what it felt like to be left out.  I had two brothers and lived in a neighborhood with zillions of boys and only one other girl besides myself.  I was sympatico with Sarah's premonition she was to go through the same unfairness I had to face everyday in a 'boy's world'.

       "Sarah, you can come over to visit G-Ma and G-Pa whenever you want. Just let us know. It might be fun for you to help your mommy change Angus' diaper or give him his first bath.  You wouldn't want to miss out on that."  I kissed her tearstained cheek.

                                      * * *

      Six weeks have lapsed since the birth of Angus Martin.  As expected, Matt has adjusted exceedingly well but Sarah's nose is still very much out of joint.  Matt holds the baby and laughs delightedly just looking at him, very very gently head butting him.  He calls him by his middle name using his daddy's Irish accent.

      "G-Ma, when Angus gets a little older, I'm having Brook over to play and the three of us boys will gang up on Sarah."

      Sarah didn't hear his comment, fortunately.  I pretended I didn't hear it either, chalking it up to normal six-year-old boy behavior.  Recalling his earlier statement fearing another sister would be as intrusive as Sarah, I chuckled to myself.  Frankly, Matt does need protection against the strength and agility of his aggressive sister.  She's an amazingly strong little gal.  Still, her emotional muscles are weak and easily bruised over being replaced as the "baby" by a new brother.

      Sarah has shed many tears since the birth of brother Angus.  She's had to suffer more 'time-out's'  than usual and has temporarily forgotten most of her manners much to the dismay of her parents, brother Matt, and her G-Pa and G-Ma (who had prided herself on manner re-enforcement).  She wouldn't get out of the new stroller so her mommy could put Angus in it.  She insisted on being its first occupant.  Wisely, Sarah's mommy allowed her to ride in it and carried the baby in a colorful over-the-shoulder wrap around device (Sarah also tried to get into that but was unsuccessful).  When her mommy was sorting through the used baby clothes, she let Sarah try on as many as she could get into.  Both parents are bending over backwards to help her accept Angus.

      "Sarah, why are you so angry at the new baby?" I held her in my arms.  Almost every time we are together she wants me to pick her up and carry her.  Since I can and she's not that heavy for short distances, and she is so needy, I am more than willing to ease her jealousy and hug away her hurt.

      "I'm mad Angus is a boy, G-Ma. He's not Angel Angus. The new baby was 'sposed to be a girl." Sarah glowered at me her thick eyebrows meeting in a severe line, distorting her sweet face.

      "Dear, dear little one.  Don't you know you are the special-est of girls.  Why, there can't be another girl as precious as you.  That's why the baby is a boy."  I stroked her hairline, patting her wispies into place in back of her ears and ran my finger over her glowering eyebrows.  My heart ached for her, as my own had ached when I grew up in a boy's world and found myself a tag-a-long far too many times.

      "HHHHUUUUMMMPPPH!!!  G-Ma, yes there is someone more special.  It will be my baby - the baby in my tummy - when my baby comes out - she will be a princess and will be special and more special-est."  Sarah huffed away from me and flounced off into the bedroom.  I was stuck.  I didn't know what to say to comfort her.

                                                                                                * * * *

         A few days later I stopped by to pick up the two older grandchildren.  "Bye Baby Angus.  See you later, Angus-gator."  Sarah laughed as she shut the apartment door.  I caught a glimpse of her mommy's relieved smile at hearing Sarah's lighthearted comments to her new brother.  The kids were on their way to our apartment to spend the night so mommy, daddy, and Angus could have some bonding time (and frankly for mommy to rest up).  At the same time, Sarah, Matt, G-Pa and G-Ma would enjoy a fun night playing The Crocodile Hunter Game, watching kids' videos The Land That Time Forgot (highly recommended), The Magic School Bus (also recommended), eating popcorn, M&M's, drinking soda and enjoying each other's company.

      'Time heals all' is a common phrase lightly bantered about by multitudes in today's world.  I have to admit there is some truth to it.  Six plus weeks have elapsed since Angus' birth and the onset of Sarah's terrorism.  She's been seen softly patting his head, helping to change his diapers calling herself 'big sister' and much less crabby and ornery.

     She still continues to tease Matt, but I truly believe that she is who she is.  She will always test him.  Matt, as the oldest, only had to please his parents.  His identity stems from only one, narrow, relatively uncomplicated relationship-first born, first son, first grandchild.  As a result he is determined, uncompromising and somewhat arrogant - traits that tend to characterize the eldest child.

       On the other hand, Sarah, as the second child,  has to please her parents and deal with Matt.  This means some compromise.  They may fight a lot and vie with each other for the affection of their parents, but they have grown to be the best of friends and playmates.
Sarah has no idea that Angus not only has to gain affection of their parents but must also negotiate with her and Matt to establish a tolerable harmonious relationship with them.
       Like Sarah, Angus will have to fit in to an existing power structure, comprising his mother, father, brother and sister.  According to all the information on the Internet I 'googled':  Angus will have to develop his own distinctive identity and self-image based mostly upon sharing things, acceptance and negotiation.

       Before Angus was born I searched for information about sibling rivalry on the Internet.  From  I found the following information re infant jealousy.  I offer it to help future vigilant parents, godparents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and childcare givers:

                                                     *   *  *  *

Jealous (adjective). Fearful or wary of being supplanted; apprehensive of losing affection or position.                                              The American Heritage Dictionary

"Infant jealousy is usually a response to a parent's directing attention toward a sibling.  Firstborn children are upset by the response because they develop the expectation of receiving exclusive parental attention since there are no other children.  Kids born later also develop expectations that spark jealousy.  Even though they haven't been the sole receiver of parental attention, they have enjoyed the special status of being the youngest child in the family and of receiving preferential treatment since parents tend to and often need to give the youngest child the most attention."
 (For almost four years, Sarah has been used to being the "number one" baby. Parental attention toward another baby violates her expectations which leads to her frustration/jealousy).
"Jealousy emerges through a gradual though invisible developmental process in which infants slowly acquire certain kind of expectations.  Through their experiences with parents, infants come to expect parental attention and they expect it to have certain qualities.  Happy babies expect it to be plentiful, prompt, predictable and tender.  Finally, infants expect parental attention to be exclusive, or at least preferential.  The process of emotional development that evolves over a period of years is still not fully understood, but it is clear that a simple form of jealousy is established by the first birthday, even though infants have never met their future siblings and have never witnessed their parents attending to another child."

     All this information may sound burdensome and unnecessary.  In many ways it is just compiled data, interesting to some and uninteresting to others.  But there is one vital priority to raising one or a hundred children-that's Vigilance.  Vigilance is the goal of making a child feel good about himself or herself-the Vigilant Goal.  Its purpose is to remove the Fear of not being loved as other siblings, the Intimidation of other siblings, and the Complacency that besets a child when he or she resigns himself or herself to either a position of subservience or elevation over his or her brothers or sisters.

     I know my sweet lovely Sarah has to work through her feelings of thinking she's less important to her family.  She isn't less important; she's just not the baby anymore.  She's facing the ladder of maturity, where we all must leave a self-centered world into a world of compassion and care for others.  She will have to acknowledge at some point the fact and the truth that she has to share her importance with her siblings.  Just as Matt worked through it and now has moved on to toughing-out Sarah's temper tantrums and teasings, so will Sarah face having to work through her tears and impatience when mommy has to feed Angus or change him or any other task that "robs" Sarah of her role as "family baby."

       The Vigilant Family is a Happy Family, one that promotes the growth and healthiness of its members, including protecting their individuality and importance.  Such a family takes care to weed away weaknesses that decay its promise. Some of those include child favoritism, or berating a child unfairly, or not taking a deep breath to take time to kneel down and look the child face-to-face so it doesn't feel "threatened."

      Without exception, it takes, Courage, Conviction and Right Action to nurture the individual flowers to ensure all family members grow healthily in the garden of love.  All members must be considered important and necessary flowers in the Family Garden and loved for their special-ness as individuals, with their own personalities, their own Fears, Intimidations and Complacencies.  The goal is to insure, In my daughter's family the goal is to insure, that the three young tendrils are given the same nurturing care and loved for their own special-ness.

       That's why three is not a crowd - at least not when they are planted in the Garden of Vigilance, tended by Parents of Vigilance, Grandparents of Vigilance, Sisters of Vigilance, Aunts of Vigilance, and Cousins, Loved Ones and Uncles of Vigilance.

      Join the team, take the Pledge of Vigilance today.  Live well, grow and help nurture the Children's Children grow and thrive in a Garden of Vigilance.

                           GO TO SOPHIA 20 -"WATERS OF LIFE AND DEATH"


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