New Year’s Non-Resolutions

The end of the year tends to spur people into becoming reflective. I’d argue that I tend to be fairly reflective most of the time anyway but there is something about the end of a year and the start of the new one that makes me think on a slightly broader scale. I live much of my life focused on the present; what tasks need to be completed, why are the kids crying, how do I get from point A to point B, etc. There are so many small fires to be put out that I sometimes forget about finding ways to stop them from starting in the first place. That is what this time of year is for: taking stock of where we were and what we’ve done and making decisions and plans for the coming year.

To that end, I thought of a few things I have in mind for the coming year. I’m not going to call them resolutions; I find that word has become too closely associated with fixing the pieces of ourselves that are “broken” and that’s not how I see myself. I have my share of flaws, to be sure, but there is a major difference between being imperfect and being broken. In that vein, I was looking for ways to build on the foundation that already exists, rather than making sweeping changes or starting from scratch. To use computing terminology, I want to upgrade the current software instead of repairing faulty wiring or installing an entirely new operating system.

One more thing: the tweaks I mention below vary in their degrees of importance. (There’s a reason I’m calling them tweaks.) It’s much easier to maintain slight adjustments over the long term than it is to keep up with large scale changes. I’d rather commit to smaller shifts that are more realistic than come up with loftier goals that set me up for disappointment.

And so, without further ado, I present my 2018 Non-Resolutions.

1. Stop the Hoarding

Let’s be clear: I’m not a hoarder. I don’t obsess with acquiring new things and I have no problem getting rid of garbage and junk mail that come into my apartment every day. Show me something I haven’t used in three years and I’ll throw it out without batting an eye (usually). What I do have a problem with is that I make piles. Piles of receipts, piles of electronics chargers, piles of papers that I may need but I’m not entirely sure. I make these piles because I don’t know where something should go immediately or because I’m just putting it down and intending to put it away later (which, of course, I never do).

2018 Non-Resolution: no more piles. If something is out, I’m going to put it away immediately. No more putting things down and “coming back to it.” I’ll have a specific spot for things I’m not ready for yet and make sure that it’s empty before I go to bed each evening.

2. Better Quality Family Time

A few nights ago, Trudy and I were watching television,1 which is not exactly a rare occurrence for us. Most of our evenings end up with the two of us sitting on the couch and watching a show while also scanning through social media feeds on our phones or doing work on the computer. This particular evening, though, ended differently. We had put away our phones and were actually sitting right next to each other, as opposed to near each other. We were both fully present in the moment2 and we were only focused on the show and each other. It was just… nice.

2018 Non-Resolution: focus on one thing at a time. Watch the show and nothing else. Be with Trudy and nowhere else. Play with my kids and be present with them. Leave the phone aside and keep my attention on the people I’m with so I can get more done and enjoy being with the people closest to me.

3. Keep on Writing

This is a harder one than it may seem. There are times when the words just flow out, when I have the entire post formulated in my head before I even start typing. Then there are other times, though, where I start and stop numerous times before finding an opening that seems to stick. I’ll be the first to admit that some posts are “better” than others – more creative, more heartfelt, more meaningful. It depends heavily on the subject matter of the post. But, no matter how the post turns out, I know that I feel better about myself when I can publish new posts consistently.

2018 Non-Resolution: keep the streak going. I’ve published a new blog post in nine of the last ten weeks (I took Thanksgiving week off) after having gone through a four-month dry spell. I’ve been feeling more confident about my work and my ability to find the words to describe my experiences. I need to make sure I continue my progress.

These are a few of my non-resolutions. Feel free to leave some of your own in the comments section, whether they’re significant life-altering moves or little adjustments to make your daily routines go more smoothly. Either way, I wish all of you a happy and healthy new year. May 2018 bring all of us more laughter than tears, more successes than setbacks and more love than heartbreak. Oh, and of course, plenty of writing material.

Happy new year.

 


1. For the record, we were watching The West Wing. We never watched the show when it was airing and we started binge-watching it around Christmas when our current shows were on winter break.

2. I mean, as much as one can be when watching television.

Coming Back to a Changing Reality

We’re back.

My family and I went on vacation for nine days to Boulder, Colorado and we came home this week. The flights were fairly easy and our car service trips to and from the airports went off with only minor hitches. When we got home, we flew through the unpacking process in record time; we were in the door around 7:00 PM and were fully unpacked by 8:45. After baths, dinner and one major tantrum involving silverware being thrown by one of our children (I won’t say which), both kids were asleep around 9:15. It was obviously later than their usual bedtime but that’s how things go when you’re dealing with airline flights and changing time zones.

I should say, before I go any further: I’m not going to write about the trip itself. I’m not going to go into detail about the party with the cats, dogs, goats and chickens where we somehow met someone who knew us (the second time that happened while we were away). I’m not going to write about the car trip through the winding Rocky Mountains, praying that Eitan would be able to hold his bowels until we reached a clean bathroom. I’m not going to write about the pool or the zoo or the hiking or the sunsets; you can follow me on Instagram for all that. I will write about family, but I have a specific angle in mind which deserves its own post, rather than being forced in here. Oh, and I also won’t write about Eitan shooing me off the ice rink so he could skate by himself (although I may at a later date).

I will, however, write about the fact that there was something about this trip that really seemed to affect Eitan and Shayna.

It’s often difficult for me to put my finger on the exact changes I see in my kids over time. Some of these were pretty obvious, though. Shayna has been walking and running for months already but she really took off while we were away. I saw her climbing into chairs, onto ledges and, of course, up many flights of stairs. Our walks through the zoo and around the lake took a bit longer because we had to wait for Shayna but there is nothing like watching her laugh while she’s running, especially if she thinks she is being chased.

Shayna was talking more, as well. She could already say the names of objects like shoes, fork, spoon, Mimi (her pacifier) and almost all of the Sesame Street characters. Then, on the trip, she began using the word “no.” Trudy and I laughed at first because it was cute to watch her little mouth sound out the word; it was much less cute by the end of the trip when Shayna would scream, “No! No! No!” any time she didn’t get her way. But even if Shayna didn’t add any other specific words to her repertoire on the trip, she still seemed to be communicating more directly and purposefully than she had before.

Eitan also seemed to go through a change, though his was a bit more subtle than Shayna’s. His speech patterns were already well established since he’s older and we were hardly shocked when he was able to jet off on the bicycle we borrowed from our relatives’ neighbors . The shift we saw with Eitan was more closely related to his mannerisms and the way he carried himself. He seemed more self-aware, more confident and… older. He described the concepts he has been learning in school matter-of-factly and was eager to demonstrate his reading, writing and math abilities. He engaged in real conversations and was able to laugh at jokes. Even his posture seemed straighter.

Eitan’s kindergarten teacher told Trudy and me at Meet the Teacher Night that kindergarten brings about the most significant changes in children. She said that kids coming into kindergarten are usually insecure and need considerable guidance as they figure out their next steps. By the end of the year, though, they have developed so many skills, both academically and socially, that they are practically different children. There have been countless times since September when Eitan has done or said things that have stopped us in our tracks. Shayna has had plenty of her own stop-short moments, too, although the situations are obviously different. Each time, Trudy and I just look at each other and ask, “Where did these kids come from?”

I’m not sure if the shifts I saw in our kids during our trip actually happened during the nine days we were in Colorado or if they just seemed starker to me because I finally had enough uninterrupted time to actually be with my family. Trudy seems to be slightly less shocked by our children’s ongoing emotional growth, although I’m not sure if that is really the case or if that’s just what I tell myself since she is around our kids more often than I am. Either way, I’m actually able to spend more time with my family on an ongoing basis than many other working parents with more rigid schedules and less accommodating employers. The problem is that, even if that’s the case, it feels sometimes like my interactions with Eitan and Shayna are happening with different kids from one weekend to the next.

The changes keep on coming; I just have to try to keep up.

Sleep Like a Baby? Yeah, Right.

I’ve been sleeping on the couch for almost a week. Not only that, another man has taken my spot in the bed.

I’m not in the proverbial doghouse; I haven’t done anything to make Trudy upset with me, although one of our doormen seems to think I have.1 There’s also nothing wrong with my bed; I’m not on the couch because the mattress has a spring sticking out or anything. The couch is just where I’ve been sleeping recently. It’s actually really comfortable, but, of course, I’d rather be in my bed.

As with so many parenting situations, I have to sleep on the couch because of my children.

Shayna was terribly sick two weeks ago. She was congested, coughed up a storm and had a fever for over a week, which occasionally rose as high as 103 degrees. She saw doctors on four straight days at one point to monitor her temperature, get an x-ray to check for pneumonia and to make sure the rash that suddenly broke out all over her body wasn’t an allergic reaction. The doctors concluded, after ruling out the more serious and terrifying diseases, that she had fallen victim to approximately seventy-five viruses all at once.2

Shayna is fine now. Her fever finally broke (on day eight!) and the rash that made her look like a mutant faded after a couple of days. Her sleep schedule, though, had been thrown completely out of whack because she kept waking up from the coughing. The quickest way to get Shayna back to sleep is usually for Trudy to nurse her, which makes sense when Shayna’s sick and needs the comfort, but is sort of annoying when she’s healthy. Shayna knows how to sleep through the night, so Trudy and I would rather not wake up if we don’t have to. Sometimes Shayna’s sleep patterns get altered, though, so we need to remind her how to go back to sleep without nursing.

That’s where I come in.

I usually get up with Trudy anytime she nurses Shayna at night, in case Eitan starts stirring while we’re in the room or Shayna finishes nursing but doesn’t fall asleep right away. Whenever we’re sleep training her, though, I have to be the only person Shayna sees in the middle of the night. If I come in and close the door behind me then Shayna knows she won’t be nursing. This leads her to start protesting, usually fairly loudly. We would rather not take the chance that Eitan get woken up by her crying so he sleeps on my side of the bed for a few days and I sleep on the couch. That way, Eitan and Trudy don’t get woken up whenever Shayna’s whimpering starts coming through the baby monitor and Trudy saves up a little more energy for dealing with a sick child3 the next day.

The time it takes for Shayna to fall back to sleep varies. It helps that Shayna actually understands instructions now because I can come in to her standing in the crib, tell her to lie down and she usually does it. Or, if I’ve picked her up and she points to the door to say that she wants me to bring her to Mommy, I can say, “No, we’re not going out,” and she leans her head down on my shoulder. Sometimes she puts her head down right away and sometimes she keeps crying for a bit. I was up with Shayna for close to two hours for the first two nights but it was less time after that. She slept straight through last night so we’ll probably give her at least one more night just to make sure. My fingers are crossed.

This is one of those processes that new parents don’t find out about until they’re faced with it. Everyone knows that parents of young children are deprived of sleep, but it usually gets discussed in terms of newborns waking up three or four times each night to eat. Afterward, the discussion becomes all about training the baby to fall asleep (and stay asleep) on his or her own. Countless methods have been developed on the subject, all of which claim to be effective, even though many of them contradict each other. Even with all of that research, however, I don’t remember reading any references to the effects of baby sleep training on the trainers. It seems that the real message here, outside of describing what it’s like to have a sick child and the teamwork needed to survive it, is a tip for expecting parents:

Invest in a comfortable couch. You never know when it’s going to come in handy.


1. I walked in with flowers last Friday and he gave me a wink and a smile. “Flowers for the lady, eh? What’d you do wrong?”

2. Okay, fine, they said it was three or four viruses. But they definitely all came at once and that rash was freaking scary so, for Trudy and me, it might as well have been seventy-five.

3. Or sick children, as things usually work out.

“Daddy, I Don’t Love You!”

Well, I finally got mine this week.

I’ve heard that it happens to every parent. It’s really just a matter of time and there really isn’t anything you can do to stop it. You can set up the circumstances and plan as best you can, but even the most skilled veteran parents are going to get it at some point or another. I’ll admit, I don’t know that I expected it this early – is four years of parenthood even considered early? – but I figured it was coming sooner or later.

Last week, Eitan told me he didn’t love me.

Well, he didn’t exactly say it as much as he screamed it at my face. I was sitting at the foot of his bed and he was near the head. He was in the middle of a gigantic tantrum that involved him not getting what he wanted (more about that later). His face had gotten red and he had been yelling so loudly that he started coughing and dry heaving at one point. I tried to talk to him calmly to help him come down a bit but he ramped right back up and threw out the line like a 100 mile an hour fastball.

“Daddy, I don’t love you anymore! I love Mommy and Shayna but not you!”

I barely acknowledged it in the moment. I think I said, “That’s fine” and kept trying to calm him down. I didn’t show any anger or sadness; I really just tried to keep from rolling my eyes. As angry as Eitan was and as much as he was obviously trying to hurt my feelings, I would have hated to think that he would have felt even more invalidated by an outright dismissal of what he thought was a silver bullet. At least “That’s fine” shows that I heard him make the comment, even if I didn’t respond or throw back a return volley.

There were a few reasons I didn’t want to make a big deal about the comment. For one thing, I knew he didn’t mean it (at least, as much as one can “know” what another person is feeling). My interpretation was that Eitan was just really angry and that he was looking for a way to express his extreme displeasure with me and with the situation. I also knew that Eitan hadn’t quite matured to the point where he could differentiate between the feelings “like” and “love.” He said he didn’t love me but what I heard was, “I don’t like you right now because I’m angry with you.” Granted, hearing something different than what is said can be quite dangerous, especially in relationships, but I think it’s usually fairly safe in certain situations with young children. Plus, even if Eitan really did mean what he was saying in the moment, I was fairly confident that he and I would be able to move past the argument in time and that he would “love me again” later on.

Second, as I said earlier, I figured it was just a matter of time until Eitan told me he didn’t love me as part of an argument. Kids use these kinds of comments – I don’t love you, you don’t love me, you’re ruining my life, you’re a horrible parent, etc. – as tactics to deflect from the issue at hand and to elicit a reaction that will make their parent question their actions and, hopefully (from the child’s point of view), change their mind to give the child what they want. As a social worker with experience watching families throw all kinds of emotional barbs at each other, this was probably one of the lighter remarks I’d ever heard. Of course, it was different because it was a younger child and it was my son saying it to me, but it was still hardly the most awful thing I had ever heard a child say to a parent.

The last – and probably the most important – reason why I didn’t want to make too big a deal about Eitan’s comment is that the tantrum started largely because of my own mistakes as a parent. Eitan had wanted to look at pictures of toys on my phone and I said yes initially. Then he went to get his tablet to look at some YouTube videos of those toys on there instead and I said no. The videos he wanted to watch weren’t harmful or inappropriate for his age, but there was also no real value to them.1 So I said that he could not watch the videos and suggested that we play with his actual toys instead.

That moment where I said no, after having originally said yes, was the critical mistake. Part of the point of childhood is looking for an understanding of the world and structure is what helps kids do that. When the structure is inconsistent or unpredictable children react accordingly because they cannot figure out what is expected of them. If something is allowed at first but then immediately revoked, it is understandable that a child would get upset. Had I said no from the very start, Eitan might have still thrown a tantrum but I could have explained my reasoning more clearly at that point. It’s also possible that he might have allowed me to redirect him towards a different activity instead.

When I got home later that evening, Eitan was fine. He didn’t seem angry at all and didn’t bring up the argument from that morning. I brought it up to him before bed, though. I apologized for my part2 and also reminded him that he would not be watching those videos anymore, whether he was using a phone or a tablet or the computer. Eitan said that he understood, gave me a hug and a kiss and said that he loved me before falling asleep. And so we both moved on, at least until the next time Eitan decides that I’m ruining his life.

 


1. I know, on the one hand, it shouldn’t really matter. Eitan had just woken up a little while ago, he likes the videos and he was keeping himself occupied, so what’s the big deal? On the other hand, considering all of the things he could be watching, like actual television shows that provide educational content, for instance, I would rather not have him sit and use exactly zero brain power to watch other people play with children’s toys. It would be even better if he would actually play with his own toys in the first place, but that’s a different issue. The bottom line is that, if he’s going to be watching something to begin with, I want it to have some sort of value beyond just occupying my child’s time.

2. Eitan likely heard me say that the whole argument was my fault; that’s obviously not what I said, but remember what I said before about hearing something different than what people are saying? It happens all the time. It’s also important for Eitan to hear me apologize when I’ve made a mistake and to see me change the behavior in the future. That’s part of parenting too.

A Trip to Wonderland

I’ve always been a big fan of driving trips. My family and I never went on any huge vacations when I was a kid but we did go on different driving trips. When we lived in Chicago, we drove up to Wisconsin on a few different occasions, plus Indianapolis and Detroit. My parents made a vacation out of our move to New York, stopping at various landmarks along the way, and we made a number of trips after we had moved, as well, including a tour of battlefields from the Revolutionary War in Pennsylvania and a longer trip through Virginia to see Civil War sites. We drove up to Maine to see family friends and then to Ohio, after they moved, plus shorter trips to Connecticut, Boston and countless trips to Philadelphia to see my grandparents.

Trudy had gone on a number of trips with her parents through her childhood, as well, and we’ve continued the tradition with our family. When Eitan was three months old, we drove to Mystic, Connecticut, and we’ve explored a few different tourist sites in New Jersey and eastern Long Island. Last summer, we made our first longer driving excursion with Eitan out to Amish Country in western Pennsylvania. We took a horse and buggy ride and ate some “authentic” Amish food, but the highlight of the trip was a stop at Dutch Wonderland.

The thing I loved most about Dutch Wonderland is that the park did a fantastic job of bridging the gap between older and younger kids. A lot of other parks I’ve seen include a section of rides designed for younger kids, but there are usually no more than a few rides and they all follow the same generic formula of a small train going in a circle or a carousel. At Dutch Wonderland, the entire park is designed for families with young kids, which means that all but two or three of the rides – the ones he deemed “too fast” – were perfect for him.

IMG_3388

Sure, there was a carousel there too, but it wouldn’t be an amusement park without one.

Eitan had a blast. He was a little hesitant about getting on rides by himself, at first, but he warmed up quickly and enjoyed himself immensely. It wasn’t even so bad for me; the rides that had space for adults didn’t commit murder on my knees or my back, although the frog ride (pictured above) made me want to throw up a bit. The bottom line, though, was that Eitan loved all of the rides and other attractions at the park. He even got in his skeeball fix and “milked” a cow, which was particularly funny for us, since Trudy’s parents have a picture of her “milking” the same cow when she was little.1

We’ve already told Eitan that we’re planning on returning to Dutch Wonderland this summer and he can’t wait. He remembered the gems in the mine on the train, the monorail ride and the gigantic slide that he and I rode down on a potato sack. We’re also all looking forward to getting back to Duke’s Lagoon, the sprinkler park and playground where Eitan enjoyed every minute of getting soaked head to toe.2

There’s more for you in this blog post, though, than just seeing how much we loved our visit to the park and looking at the pictures of a smiling Eitan. Since you’re reading this blog, you get access to a discount code for tickets for you and your family to visit Dutch Wonderland, as well! All you have to do is click the link below to be forwarded to the Dutch Wonderland site to get the discounted rate.

Here’s the link:
https://www.dutchwonderland.com/Blogger16?promocode=SleepingOnTheEdgeBlog16
You can also just type in the promo code SleepingOnTheEdgeBlog16 at checkout.

I hope you’ll be able to make it out to the park because I know you’ll have just as much fun as we did. The code is valid for visits anytime between today and September 2, 2016. Enjoy!

I was not compensated financially for this post, but I did receive free admission to Dutch Wonderland for my family later this summer. The opinions included here are fully my own.


1. For the record, the cow doesn’t look that old. They’ve clearly updated it since she was a kid.
2. My apologies for the lack of pictures; I’d been too worried about my phone getting wet. I’ll try to do better during the next trip.

A Letter to My Unborn Child

Dear… umm… Baby (I guess),

Well, that was an awkward start. 

I wasn’t quite sure what to write there, as I’m sure you could tell. We have names picked out for you but we’re saving them for when we actually get to meet you. It also would have been just as awkward for me to write Dear Boy Name/Girl Name. I even considered writing Dear PTBNL, the acronym that Major League Baseball uses for a Player To Be Named Later, but it’s unwieldy and most people probably wouldn’t have recognized it right away anyway.1 In any event, I just went with Baby. That’s what you are, at this point anyway, so that’s what seems to fit the best.

I’m writing because there are a few things you should know before you actually are born. You’ll figure out most of the really important things on your own, like who I am, who your mother is and who your older brother, Eitan, is. We’ll be pretty easy to identify: your mom and I will be the ones holding you, feeding you, changing you and just taking care of you in general. Don’t worry if we look like zombies; we’re going to be a little short on sleep for a little while as we get used to having you around (and you get used to being around) but we know what we’re doing with you, for the most part. We went through it with your brother so we’ve already worked out a lot of the kinks. I know it took me some time to get the hang of changing diapers with your brother but I assume it’s like riding a bike – you never really forget. It may take me a time or five to refresh my memory but I’ll get there. And your mom was a pro from day one, so you’re in really good hands with her.

Eitan, as I mentioned, is your brother. He’ll be the much smaller person that you see on a regular basis. Most of the time he’s going to want to talk with you, play with you and help us with taking care of you. He’s a great kid; he loves having fun and helping others and he’s so excited to meet you. In fact, here’s what he told your mom just yesterday:

“Mommy, when the baby comes home, I’m going to sit on the rocker and you can put my lunch on the feet thing and then you can bring me the baby and I’ll hold her and I can rock her in the rocking chair.

It’s a girl. I know that.

I just wanted you to know that now.”

I don’t know if he’s right about you being a girl, but I do know he can’t wait for you to join our family. He may have some trouble here and there because your mom and I can’t give him 100% of our attention anymore, but you don’t have to worry abou that; he’ll figure things out.

The attention thing is actually the biggest reason why I wanted to write to you. I haven’t had many opportunities to really connect with you so far. Before Eitan was born, your mom and I could lie in bed on Saturday mornings and we could talk to him while he was in your mom’s belly. We played music for him, told him about our plans for him and talked about what we thought he would grow up to be.2

And with you, I haven’t quite felt the same connection.

A big reason is that I’m working so often so that your mom can stay home with you and your brother, so I’m not around to be able to take a minute and talk to you. But I want you to know that I’ll be taking some time off after you are born so you and I can get to know each other a bit. Research shows that spending time together after a child’s birth is just as important for the parents than for the baby, which is something I didn’t take enough advantage of when Eitan was born. I won’t be making that mistake again. I know my time will be split between you and Eitan but I want you to know that I’m going to try my absolute hardest to build as strong a relationship with you as I’ve built with Eitan.

I’m not perfect, by any means. I’m going to make mistakes at times and there will be points where you’re going to think to yourself, “Ugh, how did I get stuck with this guy?” But whenever that happens, I just want you to remember that, no matter how I mess up, I’m doing my best and I’ll figure things out. Your mom and your brother have been fantastic teachers for me and I’m sure you’re going to follow right in their footsteps.

The most important thing is that I’m always going to do my best to protect you, care for you and love you. I can’t wait to teach you all of the things I’ve learned about relationships, sports and life, in general, and I can’t wait to learn new lessons from you as we grow together. I know I’m biased, but I’m pretty confident in saying that you’re coming into a great family.

We can’t wait to meet you.

Love,

Daddy

 


1. Your uncles, I’m sure, protested immediately that they recognized it.
2. For one thing, we thought he was going to be a girl, so things changed a bit when he was born.

Big Brother Short Stories

A friend of ours came over one evening last week. She is a long time friend of Trudy’s and mine from our college days and she’s always had a sort of special relationship with each of us. As Eitan has gotten older, he’s grown to love her as well. She can match his energy and enthusiasm on a consistent basis, which us a big reason for his affection for her. The other reason is that she’s never afraid to get down to his level, whether they’re doing puzzles or dancing or fighting with light-sabers.

As we sat down to eat dinner, Eitan started telling the three of us something that I can’t remember, although it was clearly very important to him at the time. It might have been about his day or about his friends or about the television show he wanted to watch with us later that evening.1 Either way, he was articulate and thoughtful as he spoke. He had a clear message that he wanted to convey and he did so perfectly. When he finished, Trudy voiced the exact words that I had been thinking.

“God, when did he get so old?

Our friend laughed and said, “Honey, he’s been old for a while now.”

*****

We hosted the second Passover Seder at our apartment. There were twenty of us, so it was a little tight, but everyone was mostly comfortable and had a good time. Three of our guests were two other college friends of ours and their 8-month-old son. Eitan spent most of the night playing with his older cousins but there was a span of a half hour or so where he was in his room with our college friend and her baby. Our friend had gone into the room to nurse and to try to get her son to fall asleep. Eitan apparently read a few of his books to the baby, helped to rock the baby to sleep and covered the baby with a blanket. Eventually, our friend had to ask Eitan to leave because, as helpful as he was, her son was so captivated by him that he wouldn’t fall asleep.

*****

Trudy and I have been trying to take advantage of opportunities to spend time with Eitan as often as we can because we know everything is going to be changing soon. I think we’ve prepared Eitan pretty well for the upcoming addition to our family but we’ve still been trying to find ways to help Eitan feel valued as an individual, not just as “the big brother” or as our helper once the baby comes. It’s why Trudy made such efforts to spend one-on-one time with him while he was off from school last week and why he and I went miniature golfing on Saturday.2Despite the lengths to which we’ve gone to help ensure that Eitan is aware that our love for him as a person will never be diminished, no matter how much our family changes, he has taken on the mantle of big brother with barely any hesitation. He knows there is a baby coming and he’s excited. “Mommy,” he says, “when the baby comes I’m going to share my toys with her and help to feed her and take her into the backyard and play soccer with her.”3 When Trudy told him that the baby probably wouldn’t be able to play much at the beginning, Eitan said, “That’s okay, I’ll just hold her then.”

Then, this past Sunday, Eitan, Trudy and I were getting ready to go out for a family dinner to close out our long weekend. Eitan was going to be back at school the next morning after his week off and Trudy and I had gotten our apartment about as ready as possible for the new baby, so dinner out was going to be sort of a last chance to spend some time together in our current family structure. Which is why, when Eitan asked me if the four of us were going to dinner together, I said, “What do you mean? There are only three of us.”

Eitan gave me a look like I was the dumbest person alive (the first of many, I’m sure).

“No, Daddy. You and me and Mommy and the baby. That makes four.”

Silly me.

*****

Eitan is extremely proud of his big brother shirts and brags about his plans to show the baby how to play with toys. We’ve been talking about how things will change and reading books about kids becoming big brothers, but I would bet that the biggest help has been that a few of his classmates and other friends have gotten new siblings over the past few months. Eitan has gotten to meet the new babies and he seems to understand more of what to expect every day. We may have been worried about how Eitan will adjust to having a new person invading his territory but, if his recent behavior is any indication, he’s going to be just fine.


1. Chopped Junior. Eitan loves all of the cooking shows with kids as contestants.
2. Related: Eitan made a legitimate hole in one on the 13th hole of the course. Add golf to the list of sports for which he’s going to get college scholarship offers.
3. We haven’t found out the sex of the baby but Eitan has said it will be a girl from the very beginning. Even when he’s acknowledged that it might be a boy, he’s always used female pronouns.