Saturday, June 02, 2007

Miss Independent

I keep hearing/reading that, with a second child on the way, I should be paying special attention to my first-born. I'm told that making an unusual fuss over her will help stave off jealousy issues and decrease the likelihood of her feeding the baby to the dog while we're drinking mojitos on the front porch. And so far, I've bought into it. Literally. All of my nesting has been focused on Miss M's room, and has involved the purchase of a couple storage units and a new mattress, along with a total rearrangement of her furniture. Since then, she's developed a new interest in her space, actually playing with her own toys in her own room for relatively long periods of time. Assuming we're playing with her, of course. And because everyone says we should right now, we have been.

But now I'm starting to wonder. I mean, is it a good idea to get her used to this? I've spent the last 3+ years trying to slowly adjust her expectations so that she no longer believes that "mama" and "oxygen" are synonymous. It's taken a lot of time for me to be able to get enough distance between us so that I can read half a New Yorker article while she puts a puzzle together. In my lap. I was sort of hoping we'd get to the point when she might not notice that the thing I'm holding so possessively is a newborn instead of a weekly magazine. How much ruder will her awakening be if she goes into this sisterhood thing accustomed to us paying attention to her every need, indulging her every play-related whim, acknowledging every word that falls from her very active mouth? Will she just resent her baby brother because he has robbed the comedic value from her repertoire of jokes involving chicken butts?

Perhaps its best if we return to our regular course of action, best described as "benign neglect." Or, "as benignly neglectful as possible with a 3-year-old affixed to one's ankle." It will make the transition so much easier, and speed up her accumulation of important skills for independence. Like mixing mojitos.

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