One of the biggest challenges in Little Bear’s growing world has been a struggle for the entire family: Getting along with his big brother.
Little Bear just turned two and his brother is three and a half. They’re eighteen months apart. Big Bear wasn’t a huge fan of getting a brother – he’d be perfectly content to be an only child forever – but I think by now he most likely doesn’t have many memories, if any, of being an only child. We wanted it that way. We wanted back to back newborns, back to back toddlers, back to back everything. We didn’t want to get over the no-sleep hump just to go back to square one.
The early days were surprisingly easy. It was nothing like everyone said it would be and I honestly didn’t regret our decision for even one second. Papi Bear and I were doing high fives all around over our brilliance and blowing raspberries at all the people who said 3 was the perfect age difference.
Then Little Bear became a toddler. A developmentally delayed toddler.
Holy freaking Christ.
So now I have a recently-turned terrible two year old with a limited vocabulary and ability to understand and a slightly developmentally delayed 3 year old who is bossy as hell and doesn’t understand that his brother doesn’t think the way he does.
Examples of their “brotherly love.”
Big Bear: Mama, Big Bear no quiere fishies.
Mama Bear: Daselos a Little Bear.
Big Bear: No. Quiero fishies.
Big Bear just randomly grabs Little Bear’s favorite puzzle and dumps it upside down. Even if he’s not playing with it. ESPECIALLY if he’s not playing with. This drives Little Bear into a rage because it’s his FAVORITE PUZZLE.
We just replaced all our bath toys for Little Bear’s birthday. Both of them want the new basketball net. Neither one wants the fishing rod. Little Bear pinches Big Bear for it. Big Bear screams and kicks Little Bear. More pinching. Big Bear elbows Little Bear in the face and cuts his lip.
I’m sure a lot of it is just what you would expect with the terrible twos and a three year old. Also, Big Bear was never a “terrible” two, but he’s definitely had his moments at 3. He’s also slightly delayed developmentally, though not nearly as much as his brother. Nobody has suspected autism, though we do plan to have him tested once everything has been done for Little Bear. Add into that the enormous amount of attention his brother has been receiving since his diagnosis. He only goes to school three days a week now and gets to hang out with mommy when he’s home. Mommy and Papi pay huge amounts of attention to him, trying to capture his gaze and keep it. Everything is “Little Bear, look! Little Bear, hello! Little Bear, I love you!” Lots of stories, lots of laps, lots of playtime, since that’s when he makes the most eye contact. Big Bear feels pushed aside at times.
We’ve tried to compensate. I give him extra long hugs and have long talks with him in the car. I let him help me cook, I ask him to help out with labeling the baby books when we’re reading together, and I do double pony rides. We bought annual passes for Disney World this year and plan to visit at least once a month while we can. Big Bear especially loves Animal Kingdom. He calls it “Alemanes” and it cracks us up every single time. But even at Disney, he feels like it’s more about his brother sometimes and we just don’t know what to do for him. Right now our plan of action is to tag team, but when my husband is traveling, that never works.
Hopefully things will improve after this year. Everything is a phase. That’s what I keep telling myself.