Sibling rivalry, delayed bonding and growing up quickly

Dada and Little Buddha

I’VE GOT A CONFESSION. I’ve fallen for another. She loves me too. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.

If Boy Wonder could read this, he’d probably grudgingly accept my apology but remind me that ‘he came first’.

Sibling rivalry started earlier than I expected. He’s been waging psychological warfare on me since the day he arrived at the hospital a year ago to find me cradling his new sister. Interloper. Hijacker. Thief.

He loves her very much – and she adores him – but he hasn’t always liked to see me getting too close to her.

My Daddy’ is one of his favourite phrases at the moment. I give him The Look and he quickly adds ‘[Little Buddha’s] Daddy as well’ but the smile looks forced and I can almost hear his brain whirring.

His other techniques include:

  • Commenting on ways we look like one another and his Mummy and sister look the same
  • Telling people his sister came from his Mummy’s tummy and he came from his Daddy’s – one or two people have looked at my paunch and wondered, just for a moment
  • Pointing out that Fireman Sam is a man and the nurse, Penny, is a girl; the doctors, police officers and music teachers he also meets are all male – ‘Got it Daddy, we’re the dominant half of this species!’

‘Who is that man?’

As ever, beware one of the greatest parenting problems: the Law of Unintended Consequences. When we brought Little Buddha back home this time last year, I had three weeks off – aye, I work in the pubic (sic) sector – and I spent a lot of the time with Boy Wonder.

I got him up for breakfast while the ladies slept, we had our own day trips, and I presented him with ‘gifts from his baby sister’. Thanks Daddy, he replied.

Maybe I over compensated in my efforts to Keep Everything Normal but for the first months, he really didn’t like it if I held my daughter. She’d start crying and want the Duchess and I’d feel guilty and find Boy Wonder looking hurt and confused.

Months of propaganda from the Duchess and I seem to have worked. Or he’s less obvious now: if I’m laid next to Little Buddha on our lounge floor he’ll use his little (sometimes smelly) booty to force his way between us. ‘I just want to play with my baby sister, Daddy,’ he’ll tell me, before blocking my every attempt to tickle her, pass her toys, play with her too. He’s like the human equivalent of a barbed wire fence.

Slow bonding

I think its fair to say Little Buddha and I didn’t really bond until the Duchess returned to weekend night shifts last autumn and I started collecting, feeding, entertaining and putting our daughter to bed on a more regular basis.

And relax…

She’s still a Mummy’s Girl but we have our own games, cuddle routines and occasionally she’s only got eyes for me. And when she’s tired of late, she crawls up to me, rests her head on my lap and invites me to stroke her hair. It’s the best thing since Worcester Sauce crisps and melts my heart just a bit more.

She turned one year old today and I can’t believe our night-time dash to the hospital was a full year ago. Time moved far more slowly when we had just the one child. At this rate, before I know it she’ll be a young woman.

Maybe one day around then, she’ll have a certain glint in her eye. Maybe she’ll be distracted and coy. And I’ll know. I’ll bloody know.

She loves another.


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