“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Needing a Sister

Since a lot of people we know have been having babies, Joey and Noah have "decided" they should have a sister. They're not being terribly pushy about it, but remarks are made at least five times a day. It's usually a casual, "We should really have a sister next," or a breezy, "So, Mom. When are you going to get another baby in your belly?" Each time I smile, sigh, and say, "We're probably not going to have a sister in our family. It's probably going to stay just us." As children who are used to getting what they want (because they only ever make reasonable requests, of course), they are irritated by instant shoot-down. Why am I not even considering their reasonable request? Why don't I want a darling little angel to add the verve and pizzazz to our family that's so clearly missing? And the biggest question of all: Why don't I want another girl to hang out with?

None of my answers ever appease them. I don't really think it's appropriate to discuss adult decisions with children, but this one is a little bit their business and certainly affects them. This leads me to give small inadequate responses since a simple "No" isn't quite fair.

"I just love you two so much, I don't need anyone else."

"Why do I need a girl when you boys are so much fun?"

"Babies cost lots and lots of money, and we don't have any of that." (This helps me out later, when they make unreasonable requests at Target.)

Or Joe's stand-by: "Mommy likes being the only girl. Another one would only steal her thunder." This one, though partly true, doesn't really satisfy Joey and Noah at all. They don't think I have much thunder. They think I'm pretty lame.

But today I decided to give Noah a little more. I wasn't going to get into the whole, "Joey would be eight years older than the baby," or, "How would Mommy handle having been home with you but returning to work with a new baby since she used all her time up and then changed her mind about how many kids she wanted?" No, that's the stuff that I think they don't need to know or be concerned with. But again--there is a lot that would change in their lives, and it seemed safe to share what some of that would be.

"Mommy, when are we going to have a sister? I really want one."

"Well, I'm not sure a sister would make you very happy. Babies are a big deal. Even bigger than a bicycle."

Noah made a face, looking at the bicycle he was perched on, one foot on the ground, one hand on his knee. His Buzz Lightyear helmet was slightly askance and his shaggy blond hair, in need of a cut, stuck out from the front over his forehead.

"Do you know that if we had a baby girl, she would need her own bedroom?"

"That would be okay," said Noah. He furrowed his brow, nodding his approval. Of course that seemed fair. At first.

"Well, that means you'd have to share a room with Joey. You'd have to give your bedroom to the baby."


"We'd need to get rid of your Toy Story bed so we could fit the crib in the room, too."

"My Toy Story bed?" he repeated, his voice getting panicky. "But I love it."

"Well, yes. But you'd sleep in Joey's bunk bed, and the new baby would have the crib."

"But what about my toys? And my clothes?"

"All that would have to go in Joey's room. You'd have to move all your clothes in his closet and share the space."

Noah scratched the back of his neck and glanced from side to side as he processed this. But he wasn't done.

"Joey's bunk bed is awfully high. I know how to use the ladder, I guess. But I sure love my Toy Story room. When would I get it back?"

"Well, never," I said. By now I was seriously fighting a smile. "If you have a sister, that would make her a girl. And she would need her privacy. Just like Mommy needs privacy."

"But you share with Daddy!"

"I do, because we're grownups and we're married."

"What if my sister wants to share with Daddy?"

"She can't. He shares with me because we're married. It's something you get to decide when you're a grownup. You get your own house, and decide if you want to share it with someone you marry."

"Get my own house??" he screeched. "I can't live with you forever?!"

"Well, no. When you're a grownup you don't live with your Mommy anymore." In my head I muttered, "God willing."

"And I'll...I'll never see you again?" His little voice was shaky.

"No, you will. We'll see each other all the time, just like we see Grandma Judy all the time."

Noah considered this a moment, then brightened. "Okay. I don't need a sister, and I will grow up and have my own house. And I will have a pool."

He hopped on his bike, shoved off the pavement, and pedaled off at a hundred miles per hour.
Mr. Thoughtful

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