Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Middle Child

Lily has been having a bit of a tough time adjusting to the new family dynamics. She's not the oldest, she's not the baby, and she's not the only boy - she's really the middle child.

We haven't seen any overt jealousy, especially not aimed at Elizabeth. But, as when Campbell was born, Lily has reacted by becoming even more whiny and clingy. She cries about EVERYTHING some days - her shoelaces are tied wrong, she doesn't like her cereal, she doesn't want to clear the table, she can't find the right color of marker. You get the idea.

She also wants to be in my lap or next to me all the time. And she begs me to pick her up in a baby voice that is like nails on a chalkboard. When Campbell was born, I figured she was begging for the extra hugs and snuggles because she needed reassurance, so every time she asked, I'd pick her up or put her in my lap, figuring that it would reassure her that I really do love her and the clingyness would dissipate. Turns out, not so much. It just made her clingier.

When we went through this after Campbell's birth, I discovered that the best thing to do when Lily said, "Me want to sit wif yooo," was to make her repeat the request in a big-girl voice and then give her a hug and kiss and send her on her way. I also learned that giving her unsolicited hugs and kisses and snuggles helped a lot too. I think my giving her love at unexpected times really helped her feel more secure.

We're working our way through her clingyness again, and I'm worried that I've permanently scarred my daughter by making her the middle child.

One thing that Lily really loves is to hold Elizabeth, and it turns out that she's really good at getting the baby to settle down and fall asleep. Lily pats her back and sings little songs, and Elizabeth conks right out. So now, when I'm making dinner or folding laundry or something and Elizabeth wants to be held, I give her to Lily, which makes Lily feel very special.

Lily held Elizabeth for me the other night while I made dinner, and the scene was just too sweet. I had to take pictures.

Elizabeth reached out in her sleep and grabbed Lily's nose, which Lily thought was very funny. After I took the picture Lily moved Elizabeth's hand so she could breathe.

Ella and Campbell have a pretty strong bond; she is definitely his favorite big sister, which upsets Lily from time to time. I'm hoping that Lily will be Elizabeth's favorite so that everyone is evenly matched.


The Kretzings said...

What a difficult thing for you, B, and Lily to go through, but it's a very sweet thing that Lily has the "power" to calm Elizabeth down. She SHOULD feel very important b/c she IS very important. Good work, Mama! Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Nah, not permanently scarred - just working up to extra negotiation skills.

I had a baby for each of my sisters - Emily completely latched onto my youngest sister from the word go, and Jacob bonded with my middle sister. It has all evened out now, both kids adore both sisters, but early on, there was a very clear preference for each.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure that's a real baby? ;)

Jessamine has been a bit like that too, but not too bad.

Unknown said...

oh that middle picture is priceless1

My husband is the middle gives them something to talk to their therapist about, bwaahaahaahaaa

Anonymous said...

I joke that Sunny and Little Man seem to be in a contest to see who can be the most Middle of the middle kids, but it's really pretty true. They fight constantly, and constantly act out for our attention. I'm hoping that as the little ones grow, they'll pair up boy/girl, or bigs/littles, but so far, not so good. Though Nemo adores Sunny, and he misses her tremendously when she's in preschool 3 days a week.

That's a great picture of them. She's such a good big sister.