Babies and Big Brothers: two year old greetings for a new sister
“I just want to see my sister!” proclaimed Roy, my two year old grandson, when he learned yesterday morning that his mom,Natalie, had gone to the hospital to give birth to his baby sister. I explained that he would see her later that day. I had his backpack, snack, and instructions for delivering him to his pre-school program, but some other instinct made me dawdle as we fixed his breakfast and my morning tea. By the time we’d completed 3rd breakfast (he’s tiny as a Hobbit but has not yet read either Tolkien or Mann’s "Magic Mountain") school opening was past and his dad called to share the news that his sister had arrived. Arrived is a genteel word for it. They pulled into the hospital parking lot at 8:08 am and she was born at 8:29 am. This baby wanted to be born. And her older brother, insistent once more, declared, “I want to see her! I need to see her.” How many times does a brother get to see her sister on her first day of life? Pre-school could definitely wait.
Once we arrived at the hospital, Roy kept up a steady stream of chatter. “Is that big red building the hospital? Is that where my mommy and baby sister are? Can we take an escalator to go see them?” Yes, yes and no. He was elated to see his mommy whom he’d last seen 7 hours before but instantly dismayed to learn that his sister was still in the nursery. The nurse was bringing her to us shortly. “But this is not the right room! This iswrong. I have to find my sister!” and burst into tears. “I want to see her."
I reached for his hand. “Let’s go find your sister, Roy. We need to go look for the nursery. OK, daddy?” We quickly became an entourage—Roy, daddy and four grandparents in tow. The two sets of grandparents immediately hugged and kissed each other and exchanged a “Mazel tov” upon arrival at the hospital . There is no greater blessing, few things better to celebrate than a new grandchild in the world. We were able to divert Roy’s escalator disappointment with a brief tour of the build a bear shop while waiting for our visitor’s badges a second time (at this hospital you don’t get on the labor or maternity ward without surrendering an identity card in exchange for a temporary badge). And after two more turns, we were suddenly staring through the gridded glass trying to locate our baby who was RIGHT there parked in front of our faces. As we pointed to this delicate creature with rosy pink coloring and pursed lips just like her brother’s, Roy squealed, “There she is, there’s my sister! Why, she’s a little baby.“ And then without a beat, making his first naked calculation as a sibling from the midst of toddler-hood, he proclaimed,“I want to be a baby.”
Alex patiently responded, “You once were a baby, just like Alana. In this same hospital. But now you’re bigger. Big enough to be a big brother.”
“She’s such a little baby.” (Maybe I’ll have to cede some ground here). “I want to be the big brother. Why is she wearing that little pink hat?” And off we went on a discussion of babies, thermal heat loss and how tiny they are. He returned to give his mommy a good bye kiss before leaving and as I buckled him into his car-seat for the ride back home he said, “I saw my baby sister at the hospital. I'm so happy.That was a good adventure.” (We refer to all of our outings as adventures) “Right, Gromzy?” Oh, baby, you have no idea. The adventure has just begun. But if this first day is any indication, Alana Lenore is very lucky to have Roy as her big brother. He taught a group of adults to stop waiting for the most important blessing in our lives and to go see it for ourselves rather than settle for digital substitutes and wait. Some things in life are just too special to wait for. I wonder how many of us have stories that celebrate us and the way our siblings greeted our arrival into the world? And if we don’t, shouldn't we try to get them?