Whatever you call it in your house, I call it a big ol' pain in the ass in mine.
I'm beginning to understand why some people choose to have their children close together -- because when your oldest kid is in the throes of Three, a nearly defensless, newly-minted toddler is just fuel for the fire. It's like Violet is walking around with a sign on her forehead that says "Trip me!" or "Someone, please, take this cookie!"
I feel for Hazel, I really do. For 2 1/2 years, she was our one and only: a star on the family stage. How dare this little baby, this interloper, come along and try to steal the spotlight?! Who does she think she is, walking around here with her cuteness, and her new words, and her demands for attention, for love, for Mama?
It seems like the older Violet gets, the more fun, the more human, the more Hazel resents her. She has moments in which she is deeply besotted with Violet, to be sure -- usually when Violet is in her highchair, or nursing first thing in the morning, or just waking up from a nap in her crib. The moments in which Hazel genuinely dotes on and cares for Violet are those in which Violet is contained and subdued. More like the baby she was, less like the girl she is.
Last night as he was putting Hazel to bed, Mike heard Haze say, to no one in particular and apropos of nothing, "I don't care that much about having a baby sister. I'd like to share her. I would like to give her to a family that doesn't have a baby, but wants a baby."
While being kind of funny in a way, this makes me sad, for many reasons. I'm sad for Hazel, because I know she feels genuinely threatened by Violet, despite all the love, attention and one-on-one time we give her. I'm sad for Violet, because she thinks Hazel is an absolute goddess, and is always shocked and upset when she pops her one out of nowhere. It's just sad-making, to see one's two babies at odds so often, not to mention completely annoying. I know she can't help herself -- Hazel just knows that she wants my attention, and that she wants Violet out of the picture. She'd like to be able to put her away, up on a shelf, and take her down on her own terms. I know that her feelings are normal, and healthy, even -- hell, I feel like that about Hazel, sometimes! I know - but it's still it's so frustrating!
Hence, The House Rules.
Hazel and I brainstormed this morning at the breakfast table, and this is what we came up with, together. All four of us signed our names at the bottom of the list, Violet keeping the marker out of her mouth long enough for me to help her with her "V." Violations of the established House Rules result in time-outs, on a stool in the little enclave across from the House Rules poster. Time-outs that are not repected on the stool in the little enclave across from the House Rules poster are moved to the bedroom.
So far today, no time-outs have been needed. Considering that it's already almost 4:00, we've had a pretty freakin' good day. I'm happy for that. Know what else would make me happy? Hearing from you. How do you keep sibling rivalry at bay? What's your secret to happy kids? What are your House Rules?