Yesterday my cousin sister left her three and a half year old daughter with me in the evening as she had to go to her doctor for a tetanus shot. She is in the eight month of her pregnancy. I took little Neetu for a walk in the evening. She comes over regularly after playschool and her mom picks her up in the afternoon. As we walked she asked me very casually if I would love her the same way as now after the new baby comes. I have seen this situation many times. So I answered equally casually that I don’t care about the new baby as I care only about her. Then she asked the same about my mom and I replied that my Mom, Dad and brothers, sister in law and dogs all love her and we are not taking some new baby we don’t even know and replacing her. She smiled slowly, a satisfied smile and then skipped ahead happily.
It looked like the conversation had taken away some worry that was eating into her for some time. I could not help feel a stab of anger against the parents. It didn’t look like they had prepared her for the arrival of the new baby. It was evident that the child had a lot of fears that were not addressed. Over dinner my Mom told them about the conversation and advised them that they should sit with her and talk to her about it. Neetu was evidently thinking that she was going to be replaced by a new baby. She didn’t look at the arrival of the new baby as a natural event as she was too small to understand it.
My Mom told them of a similar situation when I was born. My second brother apparently took it really hard and our neighbor, a child counselor helped a lot in repairing the damage caused by the fact that my parents didn’t prepare him for the event. They naturally assumed that like my eldest brother my second brother too would accept the new arrival without much ado. Anyways things turned out for the best as he realized that he had a little fan following er….crawling and the fan was quite harmless (:p)and his parents loved him the same.
Neetu’s parents were a bit taken aback by the conversation. As they left for home I hoped they would talk to Neetu and allay her fears.
Today Neetu’s Dad called up and thanked my Mom and me. Apparently the little tyke had an enormous amount of doubts, fears and some false notions about the impending arrival of the sibling and the parents were amazed at the fact that beneath the calm exterior lay a bubbling volcano of insecurity betrayed only by temper tantrums now and then.
I have decided that I am not even looking at the new baby…and I know from experience that the new baby wouldn’t care, at least not now. At present Neetu has our undivided attention :)