Ittybit loves her brother.
Sometimes she loves him a little too much.
Sometimes I have to exile her to her room for a little while so she can do a little reflecting on pushing him with her feet (until he falls).
"I was just trying to tickle him."
Sometimes I have to break up their hugs (before she squeezes the last breath from his little body) ...
"I was just trying to kiss him."
Often I have to ask her to lower her voice when she sings his praises.
“I was just trying to tell him I love him.”
All this loving comes with lots of admonitions:
“Please don't hold him back. Please don't take ALL his toys. Please don't try and pick him up. Please don't crawl on top of him. Please stop yelling at him. Please don't pull on his clothes. Please stop grabbing at him. ...”
"I was just wanting to play with him."
I've tried explaining to her that he won't be little for long. One day he may even be taller and bigger than she is. She doesn't believe me. She puts growing older and growing bigger in the same category.
"How old are you going to be on your next birthday? ... I bet when that birthday comes you won't even be able to fit in your car!"
She can’t comprehend that he could ever be bigger than she is since he will never be older.
She can't imagine (the way I can) that her brother may some day wrestle her to the ground and hold a droplet of spittle an inch from her nose until she screams for mercy and he sucks it back into his mouth like a strand of spaghetti.
All she knows is that when he pulls her hair or scratches her arm, in addition to reminding her that he's just a baby – a toddling baby but still a baby – that he’s getting a little admonition, too.
“Champ, Please don’t pull the dog’s tail. We use gentle hands. Uh oh; no climbing on the table … no throwing food … we don’t throw toys into the toilet.”
She beams with delight whenever he is told to be easy on his sister or to hand back the toy he ferreted from her grasp. She wants to know all the particulars about when he’s removed to another room for a little time away from the most recent trouble.
“I told him not to jump on the couch. He’s getting a time out, isn’t he?”
“Never you mind about that, Eddie Haskel.”
“Who’s Eddie Haskel?”
I suppose I was ready for the rivalry.
I was ready for the hair pulling and the complaints about pilfered toys and overstepped borders. I was aware that entire battles would be waged over the perception of one more teaspoon of ice cream in the other’s bowls.
But I wasn’t ready for the shock of that other thing that happens, too: sibling camaraderie.
I was stunned into silence when he first clawed his way past me to wrap his arms around her in a bear hug. I was almost moved to tears when she smiled and hugged him back; gently this time.
I still kind of stand in the background with my head cocked a little like Nipper, the RCA dog, when she’s barreling down the hallway on her Plasmacar yelling, “Let’s head ’em off at the pass,” and he follows along behind, pushing his own car with his tiny legs, happily yelling something just like it in unison.
It’s a joyful noise.