“What is it Like with Two?”
One of the main questions I get nowadays is ‘what is it like having two kids?’ or ‘how has life changed with the addition of the second child?’ or some rendition of that. It is a nice way to make small talk and it is easy to give a polite answer – ‘oh it’s a lot busier’ or ‘it is sometimes a challenge having to juggle them both’.
But what I really want to say is this – the primary difference is how often I exclaim the words “Don’t!”, “No!” and “Stop!”. Usually, I don’t just say them -the exclamation marks are a mandatory part of the word. It is often a cry, yell or bellow. Yes, I used to shout these words often enough when there was only one child. However, they now form the predominant part of any conversation I have with my ferocious toddler when he interacts with his baby sister.
To give him credit, Dylan absolutely adores Eloise. He has never displayed any jealousy, and like my husband and I, has effortlessly accepted her as part of the family. There was never any talk of giving her back (to where?) or that he doesn’t like her. Actually, it is the opposite – he ‘over-loves’ her like a stalker with a smothering infatuation. About 95% of the time, the interaction with Eloise is not malicious, but instead the workings of a curious, healthy toddler who does not realise his own strength.
And just so we are clear, we do not leave the two alone all that often, at least we didn’t in the first six months. Sometimes these things occur while I am in the same room with both of them. Sometimes they occur when they are both sitting on me.
Here are some examples of bellowed instructions and commands I have found myself barking since we brought Eloise home.
There are a lot of DON’T!’s that involve not poking, prodding, pinching or pulling.
- don’t poke her in the eye
- don’t pull her ears
- don’t squeeze her cheeks
- don’t pat her tummy in a way that turns into heavy karate chops
Then there are a bunch of DON’T!’s that shouldn’t really have to ever be said.
- don’t sit on her face
- don’t lick Eloise
- don’t wipe your nose on her
- don’t drive your toy car over her face
- don’t clap her feet together and say “eek eek” like she is a seal
As an alternative to all the DON’T!’s, sometimes I change it up a bit and instead find myself saying ‘NO!’. Some of these involve not using the baby or baby stuff as a toddler plaything.
- no pushing Eloise around in the bouncinette and pretending like its a lawnmower
- no getting into the bassinet
- no sitting on Eloise when she is crawling and pretending she is a horse and by saying “neigh”
And some of the NO!’s involve asking Dylan not to ‘help’ in a way that is not helping.
- no brushing her teeth with your toothbrush
- no feeding her your food and sticking the spoon down her throat
- no creating a make-shift slide for her to play on by leaning a cushion against the couch
There are plenty of actions involving Dylan’s or Eloise’s body parts that need a STOP! issued as soon as they start:
- stop putting her foot (hand, fingers, toes) in your mouth
- stop putting your foot (hand, fingers, toes) in her mouth
And then there are the flat out STOP! commandments that get blurted out when things look really dangerous. STOP! has been roared during these scenarios:
- placing a toy car in her mouth
- driving a ride-on toy bee over the baby
- jumping off the couch and over Eloise who is lying on the floor
- holding Eloise by her feet to get her to do a headstand
- bashing her on the head with a talking Minion toy to get it to talk (“banana”)
Why It Continues
The other night I was checking dinner in the kitchen so left Dylan and Eloise playing in the lounge. The next thing I notice, out of the corner of my eye, is Dylan walking slowly up the hallway, dragging something behind him. It was Eloise. Being dragged along the floor by one leg. And she was giggling.
The reason Dylan continues over-loving Eloise, despite being issued with copious NO!, DON’T! and STOP! requests, is because most of the time, Eloise absolutely loves it.
Lick her and its all smiles, sit on her and you get fits of giggles. She seemed almost disappointed when I placed her the right way up after Dylan had her in a headstand.
Much more significant to Dylan than any number of DON’T!’s, NO!’s and STOP!’s I can issue is Eloise’s adoration of her big brother and her love of any attention and interaction Dylan gives to her. So he will continue to be a boisterous big brother and I will continue with my repetitive shouting.