It started out well. Miles had eagerly awaited his little brother and now he was here. Hundreds of little kisses for his new baby brother, Jack, given at all times of the day, upon request and without prompting. Everyone was excited.
We had a few weeks of Miles giving his little brother every courtesy. The novelty, however, wore off as Miles realized this change in our family was permanent. His mother, especially his mother, was not going to be there for him like she used to be.
The end of the little brother honeymoon has not been easy. There have been more tantrums. Things he had learned have disappeared — important things, like knowing when to use the potty. The understandable frustrations of a three-year-old have manifested themselves in hundreds of small ways over the past month.
Happily, this change has not brought animosity towards his brother. Now that Jack is starting to get a little older, he’s beginning to smile and interact with us. Miles has now made it his mission to get his little brother to laugh, and I believe it has made the prospect of growing interactions between the two of them exciting for him.
Eventually both relationships will reach an equilibrium. Miles will realize that his parents are not intentionally ignoring him or taking him for granted. But his brother will also grow into a being with opinions and desires of his own. He won’t be a sedentary object that occasionally smiles; he’ll be the moving target that likes to play with Miles’s toys. Sometime soon, Jack will become a playmate and a threat, a confidant and the competition. Brothers are natural familial “frenemies.”
Of course, Jack won’t see it this way until he’s much older. Miles will be his idol, and he will follow him from the moment he has the ability to do so. Jack is going to look to Miles to teach him everything (especially how to get things by us). I look forward to seeing how naturally Miles falls into the role of teacher.
Most of the way we have approached parenting up to this point has involved being very intentional about everything we do. But something tells me there isn’t much we can do to facilitate the relationship between these two except get out of the way and watch it happen. I look forward to seeing how it all unfolds.
Were you hands off with the relationship between your kids? What bumps did you encounter along the way?