Roman is three days old, and we’ve only been home for one of them, so we are definitely in a transitional stage. The hardest part is managing the relationship between Elena and Roman. She loves him much more than any of her toys, but she thinks that she can play with him as if he’s one of them. Jenny and I are sleep deprived and still adjusting to Roman ourselves, which means that our reactions to Elena have lacked the nuance that they might have at other times.
This afternoon Elena would not leave the baby alone in his chair. Jenny tried something clever: she made a buffer zone by laying a blanket between her chair and his, and instructed Elena not to cross into the neutral zone. Elena controlled herself while Jenny was in the room, but then Jenny stepped into the kitchen for a glass of water. When she returned, not ten seconds later, Elena had already draped herself over her brother, trying to give him a hug.
Feeding time is the hardest. Mother and newborn need some peace and quiet to establish that interaction, and that doesn’t happen when big sister wants to get up close and personal. It’s the perfect time for her favorite question: “Mommy, what doing?” I thought that we had a good balance between enforcing rules and allowing choice, but we are sure to test that framework in the next few weeks.
I run interference as well as I can, but she is quick and persistent. At one point I looked over to see her standing on the edge of the chair with Jenny and Roman. I called out in a sharp voice “Elena, get down!” She did, but then came over to me and responded “Daddy, no yell at me!” I tried to explain that I didn’t yell because I was angry, but because I needed her to change what she was doing. I also promised that I will always make such requests in a nice voice at least once before using harsher tones. She may not have understood this time, but I think she is capable of understanding if I’m consistent.
Even though this first day has been hard, there are many positive indicators. Elena loves her brother, and treats him as gently as she can. She and I spent some good alone time together when we went for a run this evening. I have confidence that we will be able to adapt and find balance.