My parents came by last night to meet Jack and see the Big Girl Bed.
We were eating takeout when Ray came home from work, and amidst the flurry of hellos and congratulations, he asked, “So, who does he look like? Amy or me?”
It is true, Jack is like a third child — in more ways than I’d like. (Some involving excrement, others more significant things.) I felt a pang. Ray would love nothing more than a real, human son.
This presents a conundrum involving my age, my previous fertility issues, my lack of comfort as a pregnant person, and my fear about finances, space, attention for the girls and having another kid — a less healthy one — with Down syndrome.
Note the “my” in all that. Ray has no such concerns. I like to say, “Hey, shoot it out your butt and I’ll help raise it.”
That’s practically what happened with Jack. So now I’m helping to raise the black, furry son Ray never had. And I can see some sibling rivalry emerging, although it’s not really rivalry, and hasn’t really taken the form I thought it would.
From the start, Sophie has liked the thought of Jack, but she’s not been obsessed. He’s cute, she’ll say hello and pet him for a moment — then move on. Annabelle’s different. She sobbed when we couldn’t take him home immediately, talks about him constantly — in the abstract. Turns out, she’s not so sure what to do with the puppy in the moment.
Each morning since he’s been home, Annabelle’s gotten out of bed and instead of coming to the kitchen to see Jack, she’s parked herself on the couch in the living room (outside of pet territory) to watch TV. I’ve had to coax her to say hello.
I know how she feels. She’s tired, she’s just waking up. I’m not good for anything (or anyone) til I’ve had my first Diet Coke and a Claritin. I’ve had to adjust. You can’t tell Sophie to hold on half an hour.
Or Jack, which is how I’ve found myself in the kitchen so much. (To be fair, Ray’s doing the bulk of the puppy raising.)
Last night, something really funny happened. To back up, I’ll say that Annabelle’s pretty darn good about playing with her little sister. But if she’s got a distraction — particularly in the form of a new toy like an American Girl doll or a Nintendo DS, or, I’d assumed, a puppy — she’d rather do that.
But last night, Annabelle chose Sophie over Jack, and it wasn’t even a contest. After Gaga and Papa left, the girls disappeared into Sophie’s room, emerging with several bottles of nail polish (kept on a shelf I used to think was high enough for neither to reach) and a plan for Annabelle to give Sophie a mani/pedi.
“What about Jack? You haven’t played with him,” I scolded Annabelle — where normally I might have gently admonished her to play with her sister.
There was some eye rolling and whining and ultimately, compromise: The mani/pedi took place at the kitchen table, with Jack asleep at their feet, like a baby brother in his bassinet.