I'm just back from another week of babysitting nephews - ages 3 and just-5 months. My sister and her husband were taking a just-vacation trip to Paris (lucky! their first actual no-work vacation together, just the two of them, since the 3-year-old was born), so I offered to come babysit again. This time my mom came to help too. It was a godsend, really, to have an extra pair of hands. I'm always so impressed with my bro-in-law - the primary caretaker - when I spend a week in charge of the household that he runs so smoothly. How does he do it?? My forte is not in keeping the house clean, or keeping up on the laundry - but my mom was great at keeping track of all that. At least one of us was good at that.
It's just two months since I babysat the two of them most recently. Last time, there was still some tension for the older one (I thought), in having a new addition to the family. This time though, the tension had dissipated - almost completely, it seemed. Across the country, there are three-year-olds adjusting to new family additions... these tiny miracles of adaptation are taking place in households all around us... it doesn't make it any easier, though, to know that it happens everywhere. So I marveled at the change that I was privileged to witness. These two boys truly have become brothers.
The three-year-old has always said how the baby is cute. "He's so cute!" The older one says periodically throughout the day. As the baby has gotten bigger (and he is big - a little Kahuna, my friend says), he has gotten more like a little person, and the two boys have been able to start interacting. In fact, there is nothing more fascinating to the baby than to watch his brother whirl around the room with his toy cars, or a ball, or whatever. If the baby was fussing, we'd ask the older one to play in front of him. It would calm him right down, so distracted he would be by his fascination with his older brother, reaching out towards him (just out of reach).
At one point, my mom suggested to my older nephew that he stand close to the baby and let the baby touch him. So he bowed his head towards the baby, who grabbed at it - and then grabbed at his ears, got his nose, his eye... not so much that it hurt (or so I imagine). We all laughed. It started a trend that lasted off and on all week. So much fun.
There was no sleep for the weary, as there are still middle-of-the-night feedings. At one point, as I got up at about 2 a.m. in response to the baby's cry, I looked into the bassinet where he was lying. He saw me and smiled, and cooed a little. "It's a good thing you're cute," I told him. (They must make them cute to make sure we'll take good care of them, my mom said at one point.)
One high point for me was watching football with the three-year-old. I explained to him that his hometown team is the Bears, but that he should feel free to root secretly for the Eagles at all times. He may have taken that to heart, because after the Eagles won Sunday night (they beat Dallas - always a nice achievement), he started carrying around a stuffed Eagle toy with him. Every so often he'd show me the toy, and I'd spell out the team name: "E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!" I'd say. He so loves to spell.
I got home late Wednesday night. I miss them already! But I'm glad to be home too, if only so I can sleep the whole night through.