Sacrifices of the Second Sibling (or third or fourth or fifth)

Mr. Ornery dances around the kitchen floor. “I love my teacher. I love Miss P,” bubbles out over and over again. I sigh inside, knowing that the week, the season, of Miss P is coming to an end. Sometimes I let him dance. Sometimes I remind him that he’ll be leaving Miss P’s class and his friends. Sometimes I let him sit in the sadness of “I don’t want to leave Miss P” as he falls asleep at night.

Four months ago he left the day care center where he went almost every single weekday of the year since he was 6 months old. He entered a new school – new “authority figures,” new friends, new routines, new expectations. And believe me – it took him a LONG time to adjust. But he did. Because he’s strong, he’s bubbly, he’s the class clown, and he’s just so darn cute! – the girls swoon already, he asks “if you’re in love do you kiss a girl?,” and the little fairies gather around him when he enters a room.

But four weeks ago, I was asked to “transition” my eldest, Super Tall Guy, out of the school. He didn’t “fit,” they didn’t want to work with him anymore, they had a symphony “orchestra” to coordinate, he was an electric guitar. Mr. Ornery is the bystander. The one who gets uprooted almost before he has his feet under him. Just as he’s coming into his glory. Just as he’s figuring out who he is and who he’s becoming.

Star Student of the Week

Star Student of the Week

I mean, when you are 5 – what is huge in your life?  Your family – though he often says he needs to find a new one (you know, one that won’t ask him to pick up his clothes or put his dishes away). And his school. That’s it – that’s where life is when you’re five. And his world is about to be completely and totally changed….on behalf of the needs of a sibling.

So part of me hurts on behalf of Mr. Ornery, knowing that he is happy where he is and I have to make the decision to move him. In the larger scheme of life, I know there are many times a parent has to make decisions that dramatically alter their children’s lives – moves to new cities/houses/schools, arrival of new siblings (Super Tall Guy is still not too thrilled that boy #3 arrived and stayed), addition of a pet or loss of a pet. The list goes on. There are also more dramatic times of when the needs and happiness of siblings are affected by other sibling needs, especially if one sibling has chronic health problems. We had a small window of that when Super Tall Guy had to return to the hospital after his tonsillectomy and I thought about how unsettling it was for the younger boys to watch us rush out of the house late at night and not be home the next day. I am so thankful that our kids are generally healthy, yet having multiple kids does lead to multiple unpredictable situations.

The good thing is that the boys are young and they’re resilient. And they’re resilient because they are loved and they know they are loved and they still have a great support group around them. They have family, they have friends, they have neighbors, and a new church family. They are also resilient because they have had prior experiences of shifts in schedules and environments and have made it through them. They will likely handle this transition to a new school better than I am going through it.

Super Tall Guy’s teacher told me that she talked to him on his last day of school and explained that finding the right school was like trying on shoes. Sometimes you have to try on a few pairs before you find the right one. Well, we’ve tried four of them already – Montessori, daycare center kindergarten, cyber school kindergarten, and private

Frustrated second grader

Frustrated second grader

Christian school. We’re moving into the public school system – the one school that will not say, “I’m sorry, your child doesn’t fit here,” but that says, “All children fit here.” That’s where the boys need to be – where they will “fit” and thrive and grow.

It will be a big change for both boys, but hopefully it will be their last big change — at least for a few months 🙂 and I have high hopes for them that this New Year will bring some great new joys and friendships and happiness.






Glimpses of joy

As you might imagine, I “generally” try to only tell my boys the truth (for example, there is no Santa in our house, though Super Tall Guy still wants to believe in the Leprechaun due to the damage in his pre-k classroom thanks to a creative teacher). However, when I tuck them into bed and try to creep out of the room and they say, “stay.”  I reply, “I’ll come back in 5 minutes.”  They counter, “one minute.”  “Okay, one minute,” I’ll say….and nine out of ten times I do not come back and probably 99% of the time certainly don’t make it back within a minute. The other night, though, I tucked in Mr. Ornery, walked some dirty clothes downstairs and then came back up to “check on” the little guy. I bent over to his small form tucked into a sleeping bag and kissed his forehead.

A slow smile spread across his face as he acknowledged the warmth of my lips. And I thought – “joy” – that was it.

It could have been happiness, but I’m going to argue for joy. That at that very moment, Mr. Ornery knew of my indescribable intense love for him and he was filled with joy. (Or maybe he realized that his mother actually stuck to her word this time and that made him happy!)

These boys bring me joy. They bring me stuffy noses and colds. They bring me sleepy eyes and a tired body. They bring me incredible frustration and a wildly sharp temper. They bring me poopy diapers and Legos underfoot.  They bring me a range of emotions that I had no idea existed. And they bring me joy.

I have great joy in adopting The Little Guy this year and making him a permanent part of this wild family of boys. I see joy in the rare and yet incredibly touching ways in which IMG_3506the boys show each other brief moments of tender love.  I feel tremendous joy when the Little Guy whispers “I love you, Mommy” in the middle of the night when I tuck him in for the umpteenth time….melts my heart and makes me just a little less frustrated to have been called out of bed again and again.

And I know of just so much joy as we trim the Christmas tree, unwrapping porcelain ornaments of the boys over the years and we smile at “how cute” they were and how much The Little Guy looks just like Super Tall Guy when he was little.

We are not always a happy family….but we sure have many moments of “intense and ecstatic” joy.