Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Brothers for a month

Today Owen turned one month old. Will thinks that should count as a birthday. We’re celebrating with an unusually peaceful day at home (and a nice visit from a friend who has a new daughter just 15 days older than Owen and an older daughter just one day older than Will).

I’ve been waiting for Will to get resentful of all the time and attention Owen sucks out of us. My former teacher shared a funny story of her older son asking after a few weeks with his new little brother, "It's not much fun. Can we sell him back?" (at which she promptly arranged for her husband to come home so she could play with her older son in the snow). Another mother of two once told me that her oldest son liked to call his newborn sister “yucky baby” for the first few weeks of her life.
But Will’s still hanging in there as the proud big brother of “baby Owen” for now. He smothers him with kisses and likes to lie down beside him and contemplate his face whenever Owen’s hanging out on the bed, in my lap or on a quilt on the floor. When I change Owen’s diaper, Wll stands on a chair beside the changing table and pats his little brother’s chest, “Good job, baby Owen,” he says, “I’m proud of you.”

Will still throws his share of mini-tantrums (there was one this morning when he decided he didn’t ever want to wash his hands after using the potty again – luckily he’s since forgotten that vow). But they’re never directed at Owen. Only once has Will admitted, “Sometimes Owen makes me mad.” But when I probed further he wound up deciding that really it was just that “Sometimes mommy and daddy make me mad.” I think Will may appreciate having at least one member of the household who never tries to tell him what to do.

I know it’s coming. Just wait until little Owen is up and crawling and able to mess with some elaborate play scene Will has created with his toys. But for now I’m enjoying these two little boys who are learning to love each other. Just this week I think I’ve begun to notice a little more interest in Will in Owen’s eyes. And Will is almost always happy to have Owen in his company. He likes to check in on Owen when he’s napping, peering (sometimes quietly and sometimes much too vocally) into his bassinet. And he loves to discover his brother opening his eyes. He shouts with joy in the morning, “Daddy, Owen is awake!! Owen is awake!!”

Postscript: Of course after writing the above draft of this post but before I’d actually gotten around to posting I had these slightly less benign Owen, Will and mama encounters:

First: Will (to Owen in my arms): Roooaaar!!! I’m a lion. I’m going to eat you up. ( He does a refrain of the roar and the threat to me. ) He’s in good spirits, obviously just having fun, but you can’t help but want to psycho-analyze the moment.

Later as I’m unloading laundry from the dryer, I watch Will hold his large paperback copy of “Make Way for Ducklings” over his head as he stands in front of Owen lounging on a reclining mini-mattress in our kitchen. He gets a glimmer in his eye, looks at me and says “I’m going to hit Owen with this book.”
I’m pretty sure it’s his idea of a joke, he’s not really intending harm, just interested in my reaction. But I am there instantly talking about fragile baby Owen. And soon all three of us are reading the book, Owen agitated by it all, me thinking I’ve probably just taught Will a great way to scare me out of housework and into engaging with him. But here we are – and what’s a mom to do?

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