Having a two-year-old and a newborn is great, most of the time. Abby is old enough that she wants to be my helper. She enjoys fetching burp rags, throwing away diapers, and other small tasks. Other times, it can be an exercise in seeing how long I can keep my cool. Sometimes I swear Abby tries to find as many ways as possible to do the opposite of what I say.
Picture this: the baby is sleeping, Abby is quietly coloring at her small table while watching a cartoon, and I finally get a moment to have breakfast and a hot cup of coffee three hours after everyone else. Immediately, Abby is drawn to the noisiest toy in the room.
“Do not touch that rattle,” I say, “your brother is sleeping.” Her life’s purpose becomes to get that toy, make as much noise as possible, wake the baby, and deny me a much needed moment of peace, quiet, hot coffee, and a moment to myself. When my attention has turned elsewhere she picks up the rattle, shakes it in front of the baby’s face, gives him kisses, trips on a toy, and knocks over a bunch of other toys. “Leave your brother alone!” I hiss. Keep calm, she loves the baby, she wants to help.
“Why?” She asks innocently, although we have had this same conversation probably about five hundred times. She knows the answer.
“Oscar is sleeping, sweetie. You can play with him later, after he has woken up. Babies need a lot of sleep. I need you to be quiet for a while and leave him alone.” I get up to deposit my cereal bowl in the kitchen sink and come back to find her jiggling his bouncy seat and shaking a different rattle in his face. Ugh!
“Oscar, I love you. Oscar! Here’s your toy! Oscar!” She sings in a loud voice. He blinks and squints and squishes up his face before falling back asleep. “Mom, I see him?”
“Abby, please go sit down, away from your brother, and be quiet!” For about three minutes she complies, but then as if someone hit the reset button she is right next to him again. The color book and episode of PJ Masks forgotten.
“Mommy, me give him hugs?” She piles baby toys onto his lap. “Oscar, hi Oscar!” She yells. Luckily, he turned his head to the side and kept sleeping.
I drop the towel I was folding and pick her up. “Please, let him sleep.” I give her a squeeze and a kiss on the top of her head. “He needs sleep. I know you want to play with him, but I need you to let him be. You find something else to play with for a few minutes. I will finish my coffee and finish folding towels. He will wake up on his own when he is ready.”
I fold all of the laundry and walk around the loveseat to the linen closet, literally five feet away. When I glance at Abby she is focused on the TV and sitting on the couch. While my back is turned, for all of twenty seconds placing towels on the shelf, she has scrambled to his side, is rubbing his head with one hand, and is trying to unzip his sleeper with the other.
“Mom, he needs new clothes. I help.”
“Abby-” aaaaand cue the baby crying.
“Just chill out!” I say, not sure if it is to her, the baby, or myself.
OK, it was mostly to myself.