Sunday, July 13, 2008

Don't Kick the Baby

"Don't kick the baby!"
Paul and I used to laugh at poor Ike, the little baby on South Park who was tortured by his big brother.
Now I find myself yelling at Abby, "Don't kick the baby."
Yes, she did.
Poor Max.
Poor Abby.
Poor Mommy.
Up until this point, Abby was the sweetest big sister. She didn't exhibit any jealousy or resentment. Mark the date in Max's baby book; it has happened.
Yesterday I turned my back for one second to put away a pair of earrings (a pair that I had just pried out of Abby's hands) when Max let out a wail. I spun around in time to see Abby withdraw her turquoise Croc from Max's tiny head.
"Did you kick him?" I asked horrified.
"Yep," she said.
"Why did you do that?" I screamed, scooping Max up into my protective arms, seething with anger.
"Because I wanted you."
My heart stopped.
My first instinct was to be fiercely protective of my baby. Like a mama bear protecting her cub, I wanted to lash out with my big paw at this person who hurt him.
Then it hit me -- this person who hurt my baby was my other baby.
Psychobabble aside, I knew why she did it. It's a classic case of sibling jealousy. More than that, she misses me. She wants my attention. She loves her brother, this I know. Her actions came from a place of frustration, sad, neglected feelings that I subjected her to by having another child.

It happens to the best of us. According to my mom, even I subject my own brother to sibling abuse. I was 3 and was left alone with him for just one minute. In that fleeting moment, I sank my teeth into his chubby little leg. Why. Because. My mom bit me back to show me how much it hurt. Of course, I don't remember this, but I have heard the story many times. My mom assures me that she felt the same way when the incident occurred. I take great comfort in knowing that we (including the victim, my brother) can now laugh about this debacle.
Back to the current drama -- While my initial instinct was to kick HER in the head (I swear I would NEVER), my anger gave way to sadness. I felt guilty that I got pregnant, just awful that I changed her perfect little world. I wanted to hug her, but I knew I needed to stay in the moment.
Stay strong. Stay stern. Be the mean mommy.
I grabbed her arm and put her in her room. Closing the door on my sobbing little princess, my first born baby, I said sternly, "That was not o.k.! I am am very disappointed in your behavior."
As the door closed (slammed closed for emphasis on my anger), she wimpered, "But mommy, I love you."
Ugh! I hate being the mean mommy! This wasn't supposed to be part of the gig.
Poor Max.
Poor Abby.
Poor Mommy.
No, this isn't easy. Nobody wins. This is an especially difficult concept for a perfectionist, type-A personality to wrap her hands around.
Some day Max will read this. He will be 13, Abby 16. He will be bigger than her. He will kick her back.
Then, we can laugh about it.

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