From what I can tell, pretty much every kid who is the youngest in the family asks, at some point, for a baby brother or sister. I know I did.
I even stacked the question: when I was about five, I declared that if Santa was REAL, he could bring me a baby sister for Christmas. That one sure sent my parents scrambling...!
Monkey has now reached the age where babies are super-cute and fascinating and she's been thinking lately that maybe she might want one around. Preferably a sister, but whatever. So she's asked a few times.
My response, each time: "Go ask Dad."
Quite a few of her preschool classmates have younger siblings. A couple of them actually just got new baby brothers or sisters within this school year. As the oldest, and biggest, kid in her class, I think Monkey sees herself as much more highly qualified for the "big" sister role, and might be growing tired of the constant stigma of being the "little" sister...I can certainly relate.
But, from the looks of things (like, oh, our bank account, and the date on both MDD's and my birth certificates), we are probably not headed down that path.
Thus, it's fortunate that in my small office of eight staff members, THREE of them had babies this fall. In fact, there were four babies total born (if you are doing the math on that, yes-- there's a set of twins in the roll call).
One of the new mommies is a friend I've gotten close with at work. She often joins me for lunch at the university cafeteria, which I usually try to arrange to be on days that Monkey's class is also eating there. End result being: Monkey got to see my friend's belly grow, and was very, very excited to meet the new baby girl.
My friend (I will call her "J" for ease of reference) was out on maternity leave for a while, and returned last month. Monkey has been non-stop peppering me with questions of when she can have a play date with "Miss J's baby" because she really, REALLY wants to meet her! We've passed along a few items to Baby, which seems to have Monkey feeling really invested in her upbringing.
J and her hubby live in the city, and we Doodles are out in the 'burbs, so it's not like it's a stroll down the street to get these two little ones in the same room. However, it just so happened to work out that the new daddy was coming to pick up J (with the wee one in tow, of course) a few weeks ago. Thus, Monkey finally got her chance.
It was so beyond adorable. Thinking about it still makes my ovaries hurt.
New Dad is easygoing and fun, and was excited to have Monkey meet this sweet little baby she's been hearing about for months and months and months. He clearly had absolute confidence in Monkey's ability to just, uh, take hold of her.
Meanwhile, *I* nearly had a heart attack when he nonchalantly plopped Baby in my equally nonchalant five-year-old's lap. Mommy J was a little bug-eyed too, so I moved within easy reach of (hopefully) grabbing a hold of said floppy-ish infant before anything bad happened while under my dear, sweet, somewhat clumsy child's care.
I WAS impressed though-- Monkey actually did sit still in the chair, and took her responsibility of holding such a small little person very seriously. I was still afraid, mind you--but she did focus really well.
Baby, for what it's worth, just sat there and cooed and gurgled and looked ridiculously cute. Cuz that's pretty much her deal, right now. ;)
Monk was fascinated by Baby's tiny hands and feet, and her very soft skin. It was so neat to see her looking in wonder at this sweet baby girl-- much like others did when Monkey was the snuggly little baby everyone oohed and aahed over.
The true highlight of the visit: New Dad sweetly proclaimed that Monkey could be Baby's "honorary big sister."
Monkey's pride was VISIBLE. She just puffed up and held her head up and was so, SO proud.
We explained that "honorary" means even though she's not REALLY Baby's sister, she kind of gets to be called that. It's an "honor" and not unlike how we have "family" members Monkey refers to as "Aunt" or "Uncle" who are not technically relatives., but friends with whom we're close, so they're LIKE family.
We stayed for a little bit, letting the kids hang out, until it was time for us to head our separate directions, towards dinner and the weekend before us.
Monkey did not stop talking about Baby for the entire half hour ride home.
Nor did she stop once we got home.
She wanted to go through her stuff to find more toys and clothes to give to her "new little sister." I reminded her about "honorary" and that we are saving some stuff for Baby in our garage.
The funniest part was when MDDaddy came in the door with Big Sis (who's with us on the weekends). Big Sis was not even fully IN the door yet when Monkey went running up to her.
Monkey: "GUESS WHAT?!?!! Guess WHAT?!?!! I have a NEW BABY SISTER!!!!!"
Big Sis: (Eyebrows to the ceiling) Uh... what?????????????????
Funniest part? She stopped taking off her coat. As in, potentially reconsidering whether or not to run for the hills...
I quickly interjected. "HONORARY. She has an HONORARY little sister. Who is NOT here. And will not BE here. As in, she is not actually OURS... Fear not."
Big Sis breathed, finally, and continued taking off her coat. Slowly. With one eyebrow cocked at me, accusingly.
For the rest of that weekend, Baby was forefront in my little daughter's mind. We went shopping, and she wanted to pick out stuff for Baby. She actually chose to spend some of her on money earned from chores on some cute hair bows for her.
Some pretty tense moments ensued that weekend between Monkey and Big Sis, due to Monkey's incessant rattling off about how cute Baby is, and all that. It was clear to see that Big Sis felt a little put-off by this new "addition" and none too pleased that her own "sister" status seemed less important. There was a lot of mediation that left MDD and I pretty worn out.
A couple of Fridays later, we got to see Baby again-- New Dad and Mommy J were meeting up for dinner after getting Baby's ears pierced, so we got to hang out a little bit with them after work. Baby was very sleepy and snuggly, so J and I were once again vigilantly keeping watch as the "big sister" held a now SLEEPING, sort-of-floppy infant. No bumps or bruises, yay!
Concerned about how it had played out at home previously, this time I reminded Monkey (as Big Sis was headed into our house) that Baby is "honorary"...but she does have an ACTUAL sister, who was about to come inside--and that Monkey needs to make sure she isn't making Big Sis feel less important than Baby...because that seemed to hurt her sister's feelings. As we had seen, when Big Sis feels hurt, she can sometimes say and do things that hurt.
My adorable, loving, empathetic five-year-old took that in, and thought about it for a good, long minute.
Then, she asked whether she should maybe just not tell Big Sis that we got to see Baby again.
I don't want her to lie. She shouldn't have to, IMHO.
So I told her no, she could tell her Big Sis the truth...just, maybe not make such a big, huge deal about it.
Monkey nodded, and seemed deep in thought.
When Big Sis came inside, Monkey ran up to her for a big hug.
Then I heard this:
"I wanted to tell you that I saw Baby again today, and she was really cute... But I also know she's an honorary little sister-- but YOU are my REAL sister, and I love you."
Sealed with a hug, the balance restored, we went on to have a good weekend.