Dealing with a not-quite-three-year-old’s discovery that he is no longer the center of our little universe was not something I expected to go very smoothly. I hoped, of course, the same way one hopes to win the lottery (despite never purchasing a ticket) or that one’s car will last forever (even though it’s pushing 200,000 miles and making a horrible grinding sound when you turn left).
The regression back to diapers was kind of inevitable, given how closely to the baby’s arrival he finally managed to figure out the potty-training thing. The constant clamor for attention, any kind of attention at all, was actually something we were used to. The sudden willingness to do anything to get attention was a little alarming; he used to be afraid of our displeasure, but now openly defies us on the chance that one of us will chase him down. I’m pretty sure I saw blueprints of some sort pasted to the inside of the adventure tent he’s claimed as his bed and hidey-hole. I know they were blueprints, because they were in blue crayon. (Name that BESM game.)
The cure for this very natural jealousy is, of course, to give him plenty of positive attention and praise him liberally for being a Big Boy. Occasionally, I’ll stop feeding the baby and go do something quick for him, like getting him a glass of milk or changing the channel on the TV, while dramatically admonishing the baby that “it’s your big brother’s turn, you’ll have to wait a moment.” After doing that just once, he suddenly remembered how to do some of his business in the toilet again. I’m still patting myself on the back for that.
During one of our family-time cuddlefests, Nyte held the Podling in his arms like a baby and talked about all his Big Boy achievements of the day, and how happy it made us for him to act his age.
“It makes us very happy when you do things for yourself,” Nyte explained. “We like when you go potty in the potty chair.”
The Podling, made up primarily of enormous blue eyes, dark blond hair, and arms and legs powered by springs, happily curled up on his daddy’s lap all folded up into a dense ball of calculating intelligence. “It makes you happy?” he asked, knowing the answer full well but delighting in making us repeat ourselves.
“Yes,” Nyte said, nodding theatrically. “And we like it when you eat your food and have a happy belly, too.”
“It makes you happy too?” asked the Podling, his eyes possibly growing bigger and even more adorable.
“Yes, it makes us happy,” said Nyte, squeezing him until he grunted, because that’s what dads do.
“Yes,” I chimed in, since I hadn’t spoken in five minutes and it was killing me. “And when you listen to us, and do what we tell you to do, it makes us really REALLY happy.”
“Oh yes, really happy. We like that you’re a big boy now. You’re a lot more fun as a big boy.”
The Podling watched us both with the simpering smile of one who knows he is being pandered to, and happens to be enjoying himself. He has a knack for making his eyes even bigger and blinking slowly and pointedly, like a cartoon damsel from the 1950’s who just dropped her hankie to lure in an unsuspecting, bow-tied gent.
“We can’t wait for your sister to be a big girl. Then we can all play together! She isn’t very much fun as a baby. She can’t sit up, or talk, or run like you can. And she can’t go potty on the big potty like you can.” I hoped to hammer home this particular point. “It makes us really happy when you go potty on the potty chair like a big boy.”
Nyte squeezed the Podling again and ruffled his short hair. “You’re a good helper, too. The Peanut can’t help, she’s a baby. Aren’t you glad you’re a big boy and not a baby?” That’s right, slather some more butter on this baby – really sweeten the deal.
The Podling looked up at his father with a deadpan expression that is quickly becoming his trademark. “I need you to burp me.”