He's just a jealous guy

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People always ask how our little boy is coping with the addition of his baby sister.

"How is your little boy coping with the addition of his baby sister?" they ask.

I can answer in two words: "not well."

The boy, who turns three in a couple of weeks, has been extremely jealous since the little girl showed up seven weeks ago.

He's given her quite a welcoming.

He constantly picks, pokes and prods at his sister.

He grabs her by a limb, grinds his teeth and bounces up and down like an out of control hip-hop dancer.

And he loves walking up to her and YELLING IN HER EAR.

Sometimes he can be a little angel though, like when he sits next to her, says a welcoming "I'm your big brother" and kisses her gently on the head.

When he does that, we think he's becoming more accepting and we start easing our scrutiny of his actions.

But really, he's just giving us a false sense of security, because the minute we turn our head, he's YELLING IN HER EAR again.

That's how he reacts around his baby sister (things would undoubtedly escalate if we didn't watch him like a hawk).

Then there's his reaction when he feels Mommy, Daddy, Nanny, Poppy, visitors, etc., are giving our new arrival more attention than he's getting.

The second he senses that, the boy does things to change the tide, like lying in the middle of the road, throwing a temper tantrum and refusing to move.

Or like hurling footwear towards his little sister.

Or like opening the patio door and making a beeline for the road.

Or like singing "Wheels on the Bus" at Motorhead-like decibels when someone is talking to his sister.

More experienced parents assure us this panic-filled phase is normal and will pass. I hope it's soon because it is pretty challenging stuff that makes for long days and short nights.

We actually thought the boy had turned the corner recently because he seemed to have cooled his jealousy jets a little.

But then we held a christening for the baby.

It was a private church service with a handful of family members and we thought he'd sit contently with his grandparents, uncle, aunt or cousins.

We were wrong.

Minutes into the service, the boy began crying to the point where, to avoid the outbreak of another conflict on an already conflicted planet, he had to sit with us.

Sobbing, he climbed into my arms and stayed there during the prayers, readings and songs.

Throughout all of it, given his track record of jealousy, I worried how he would deal with the actual baptism.

The minister motioned us to the font. I tried getting him to park in the pew behind us with his cousins, but he'd have none of it. He clamped on and wasn't letting go.

When the reverend started pouring the water over the baby's head, she cried with the first few drops.

Seeing what was going on, my son sought to get in on the action.

"I want to do it, too," he said loudly. "I want to do it, too."

Everyone there laughed, but they weren't holding him as he tried to wiggle away and soak his sibling.

The moment was funny and touching, but also trying.

It was also his most public display of jealousy - or not wanting her to be the centre of attention - yet.

I shouldn't be surprised though. It's been baptism by fire since we brought her home.


Steve Bartlett has never read so much parenting literature as he has lately. Email him at sbartlett@thetelegram.com or follow his tweets at @SteveBartlett_.

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