Jamie is currently in a stage of having screaming meltdowns every time things don’t happen in quite the way he thinks they should (as, for example, if we play the song he just asked us for rather than the one he decided ten seconds later he really wanted). I mention this for the sake of completeness, because this post is about how he’s adapted to the arrival of a sister and would otherwise start out with "Jamie has taken the arrival of a sister entirely in his stride…" which I realised may not actually be true since, according to the parenting books, it’s quite possible that the hair-trigger tempers are some sort of indirect reaction to the stress of the changed situation. Of course, it is also quite possible that they’re just a reaction to being three years old. This behaviour did start before Katie was born, but I think it may be worse now. But, then, it may have got worse regardless. So, your guess is probably almost as good as mine as to whether or not there’s a connection.
Anyway, as I say, unless that is a reaction he does seem to have taken the new arrival in his stride. I’d anticipated that he probably wouldn’t regard a new baby as either a potential rival or a potential playmate but simply as a fact of life, and that seems to be pretty much what’s happening. He has, in fact, shown more interest in Katie than I would have expected him to show in anything that doesn’t have numbers, letters, buttons to press, or flashy lights, although still less than he shows in, say, his computer or garage. He’ll often ask what Katie Kaff’win’s doing (a nice solution to the nickname-vs.-name conundrum, incidentally). Sometimes, when he’s being put to bed, he’ll ask where Katie Kaff’win is and declare that he wants to see her (I think this has less to do with fraternal affection than with a desire to put off going to bed, but it’s still sweet).
He is particularly fascinated by the fact that she has no teeth. I explained to him that they were currently hiding in her gums, and he found this highly interesting as well and will now comment at completely random moments and with his usual great emphasis "She has no teeth! They’re hiding in her gums." The other point that fascinates him is the fact that she does poos and needs her nappy changed. In fact, news of a nappy change in the offing will get him away from his computer more quickly than anything else I’ve ever found. I’m sure Freud would have something to say about this, but I don’t want to know what it is.
Talking of which, it took longer than I would have expected for Jamie to notice that his sister is minus another body part apart from teeth, but the other day he did finally spot that the bits under the nappy are not quite what he’s used to seeing. "What’s that?" he enquired, pointing. "What’s what?" I asked – I wasn’t deliberately trying to stall, but it’s often not obvious what he’s pointing at and I didn’t want to make assumptions and become the equivalent of the apocryphal mother who came out with the complete sex talk in response to a "Where did I come from?" query only to find out that her daughter actually just wanted to know whether she came from Birmingham like her friend. However, since he did indeed seem to be pointing at the part in question, I explained briefly about what Katie had instead of what, due to being a girl (excuse my coyness, which I can assure you is not a reflection of real life – I have always given Jamie the correct words, it’s just that I really don’t want to know what kind of Google hits I might get if I start mentioning them on here. There are some weird people out there). Anyway, he showed some passing interest in that, though not nearly as much as he’s shown in her lack of teeth. It made me realise how much overemphasis adults end up putting on such issues compared to how much children actually care about them in practice.
Another thing which he seems to have taken entirely in his stride, despite my fears, was his inadvertent presence at the birth. So far as I can tell, he seems to have been entirely unfazed by the sound of his mother screaming in pain (I’m not entirely sure whether to be pleased or concerned about this…). I did worry in case he was suffering some secret trauma from the memory that he wasn’t making obvious – after all, Jamie hasn’t really as yet got the concept of discussing his feelings – and, accordingly, tried gently raising the issue for discussion the following night, when I got back from the birthing centre, to see whether there was anything he felt the need to talk about.
"Do you remember what happened yesterday?"
Jamie looked confused.
"The baby came out of Mummy’s tummy, didn’t she! We went to the hospital and the baby came out! Can you remember what happened when the baby came out?"
Jamie furrowed his brow in concentration, trying to figure it out; I waited patiently. Suddenly, his face cleared – aha! the brightening of his expression seemed to say, now I realise what Mummy’s talking about! "She has no teeth!" he announced triumphantly.