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Jun 04

When there’s isn’t another baby…

My daughter has been a wreck as of late.   We had a brief flirtations, as a family, with a stomach bug and cough – both the older kids were down for a day or so with it.  Julie was sick Saturday night, but by Sunday, the fever was gone.  There were no other symptoms – other than the grouchiness.  She insists that she’s NOT sick, she feels FINE and she’s probably right.  She’s sleeping fine, eating well, and not complaining of any physical ailments.

Except that she’s too tired to walk.  Anywhere.  Unless she wants to go, in which case, she’ll run.  She has taken to screaming.  All the time.  Literally, all the time.  She cried for ten minutes the other day, sobbing that she needed me.  And when I pointed out that there was no reason to cry, I was, after all, right next to her, she cried harder.   She sobbed because Marc sits on the couch in what she thinks of as her spot.  She sobs because I make her brush her teeth, and breaks down entirely because Sam won’t let her sit on his head when he’s lying on the floor.

It’s a stage.  I know that.  Although I did seriously consider getting a squirt bottle and just giving her a quick spritz when she screams – I know that we just have to wait this one out.  She’s not a baby anymore.  She hasn’t been for a while, but she’s REALLY not a baby anymore.

(I think I still tend to think of her like this)

And as frustrating as it is (and believe me, it’s unbelievably frustrating sometimes), I know that I have contributed to her frustration.   She’s aching for more control, desperate for a bigger say in her life.   When I step back and look at things, I see how much independence the other two have, and how little she does.  They can turn on the television themselves, pour their own drinks, and get themselves dressed.  I still do most of that for my girl.

It’s because she’s my first last child.  If that makes sense.   While she’s not my first four year old – she is my first four year old without a tiny baby as a younger sibling.  By the time Jessie and Sam were four years old, I had another baby.  They were automatically elevated from the youngest to the big kid.  There was an unspoken shift in the way that they were regarded, in terms of their placement in the family.  More responsibility, more independence.  I couldn’t carry them as much any more.  If they were thirsty, they learned to wait until I was done nursing or to get it themselves.

Julie’s my last baby.   While my other two naturally outgrew that status, because another one came along behind them – Julie’s got a different path.  In the same way that Jessie is my first child and Sam is my son, Julie is my last.  I’m learning as I go along.   I have to try harder to give her what the two others got with no effort on my part (in fact, there was a lot of guilt over pushing them out of the “baby” role that, in retrospect, was totally unnecessary).  So this morning, instead of turning on the television for her and asking what she wanted, I handed her the kindle and told her I knew she could do it herself.   I’m going to fix her dresser drawers so that she can easily find her own clothes and pick them out and put them on herself.   Little things… but I’m hoping that recognizing, officially, that she’s a big kid now and capable of a lot more than I’ve been giving her will go a long way to turning my crabby, angry little girl into a self-confident, sunshiney Julie once again.

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