Making Nice- Sibling Rivalry

In the early days of my life as a mother of two, I found that I had to be on the watch to protect my infant from the antics of her big sister. On the one hand, I knew my daughter loved her new baby sister, but on the other hand, jealousy was a normal emotion for her to experience in relation to gaining a new sibling. My childcare books all stated that jealousy would, at one point or another, out its ugly head. Better it come out earlier rather than stay inside her, all repressed, like some kind of hideous tumor.


If I remained watchful, my daughter could express her jealousy without any harm befalling the baby. Or so I thought. Whenever my daughter grabbed her infant sister's rattle away from her or put her face too close to the baby's face and made her nuts, I'd take my big girl on my lap and cuddle her. I'd tell her she'd always be my first baby girl and I'd give her a treat or read her a story.


One day, I went into the kitchen to begin making dinner. My husband was bringing home an old friend to dine with us that evening. It was nice to think about socializing again, after those final bloated months of pregnancy. I turned up the volume on the radio and hummed along to an old Jazz standard, wondering if I had slimmed down enough to wear my little black dress. Better wear the caftan, instead, I thought to myself. Why push it? Life was good.

Was that a gagging sound?


Except. Was that a gagging sound? I dropped my wooden spoon, splattering chili all over the whitewashed walls of my kitchen and raced into the living room. My little girl was sitting on her haunches, head cocked to one side, observing the baby as she choked.

"I feed da baby."

I held the baby upside down and lucky for all of us, a raisin fell out of her mouth. My toddler said with pride, "I feed da baby."


Deep breaths are supposed to be calming, I thought. I cradle my infant in one arm and beckon to my toddler to come into the crook of the other. I hug them both and take many, deep, calming breaths. My toddler looks at me, trying to gauge my reaction to her near sororicide. I smile and tell her in my firmest voice, "You must not feed the baby. That is Mommy's job."


The look of relief on her face was a sight to behold. She was grateful that I had control of the situation. Inhale. Exhale. Life was good.

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