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Making Time: “Let me help, Daddy!” 
Smiles, giggles and the forming of a special brother bond

We had just come downstairs to start the day and it was time to prepare Adam’s morning bottle. My little helper, Brandon, was ready. He brought his step stool over to the counter and told me to fill the water so he could scoop in the formula. Brandon carefully made sure to get each scoop in, trying hard not to spill any powder, before putting the bottle stem and lid together and shaking everything up.

“Daddy, it’s ready for Adam.” That’s the signal from Brandon that it’s time to feed his little brother. As I give the bottle a final shake, Brandon leans down to try to calm the fussy baby and says, “Don’t worry, Daddy is bringing your bottle now.”

When we found out my wife Sarah was pregnant with Adam and told Brandon he was going to be a big brother, our toddler was overjoyed and could hardly wait for the arrival of his new sibling. After Adam was born, I wrote in this column about what that first meeting was like, and how excited Brandon had been to see his little brother for the first time.

And while we always hoped and imagined Brandon would be an amazing big brother, we didn’t really know how it would play out when Brandon realized he was no longer the only child in the house. We had heard all the stories of siblings struggling with a new addition to a family. We were prepared for some jealousy and pushback.

But so far what we’ve experienced is an older sibling that I regularly joke is the “guard brother” because he wants to know where Adam is, what he’s doing and that he’s safe at all times. Brandon is always willing to help and is extremely curious about what is going on with his little brother. He’s regularly asking questions ranging from “Why can’t Adam sit up yet?” to “Where are his teeth, Daddy?”

 

 

If Adam is resting in his swing in the family room, Brandon goes over to check and see if he is awake or asleep before returning with a status report. If Adam is awake, he is often contently staring at his big brother, watching his every move until Brandon comes up to him and smiles and giggles, which leads to chuckles and giggles from Adam. The happiness on both of their faces, the sound of their excitement, and watching the relationship between them grow each day is one of the more special experiences I’ve had as a parent.

On the other hand, if Adam is awake and unhappy, Brandon is quick to report that Adam is fussy and “wants uppy Daddy!” And if you do not respond immediately, Brandon is quick to remind you again the baby is unhappy and needs attention. Brandon does not stand for his little brother being upset. I did once suggest he try giving Adam a toy to make him happy. I looked over a minute later and saw Adam in his swing with two bouncy balls, a taggie blanket, a pacifier and a book. Options are always helpful, I suppose.

Since Adam sleeps in his own room, Brandon will check the monitor to make sure things are okay during nap times. When Adam wakes up, it’s often Brandon who is by my side helping get his little brother out of his crib while reminding me to change his diaper before we come downstairs because, “we don’t want his tushy to get red, Daddy.” It’s funny to hear things I once thought Brandon wasn’t hearing me say now repeated back to his younger brother. (I guess he was listening after all.)

Brandon’s watchful eye isn’t limited to just the morning and afternoon – it extends to bedtime as well. The last thing we do each and every night before we head up for bedtime is stop to give his little brother a hug and kiss, and say “night, night, Adam,” to which Adam looks back at his big brother in awe with a smile on his face. Those smiles and giggles of two brothers bonding serenade us into the night as we end another fun but exhausting day together.

September 2020
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