"Mom, I'm glad Patrick was born because now Eva's not special anymore," said Maia.
"What do you mean? Eva's still special, only now she's special in a new way because she's a big sister!" I answered, quoting Joann Cole's book I'm a Big Sister.
"No, Mom, you know what I mean. Eva's not special anymore, and I'm glad about that."
In case you're wondering, Eva hasn't noticed that she's not special anymore. She's not so gentle with Patrick, but I have not seen any signs of jealousy. She's had to share attention her whole life, so she seems to be taking Patrick's appearance in stride. Maia, however, was an only child for almost her first three years of life, and she's clearly still recovering from that.
Maia has been celebrating Eva's not being special by antagonizing Eva non-stop. This has become Maia's number one favorite activity - whether it's telling Eva that there are monsters in the basement or taking away whatever toy Eva has or chasing Eva or insulting Eva or, well, you get the picture. Her behavior has been so poor that Jeff and I have really been at a loss for what we could do - send her to Grandma's for a week? It's too hard to spend all day punishing her, and neither of us seems to have the time that she seems to require in terms of attention.
I was at the park today with Eva and Patrick while Maia was at school and a mom there asked me how far apart the kids were, and when I said 22 months, she smiled kindly and said that her kids were 17 months apart: "It gets easier," she said sympathetically. I was thinking to myself, "Easier than this?" Patrick was sleeping in the stroller and Eva was running around happily, playing on the park equipment. If all I had to deal with all day was Patrick and Eva, my life would be pretty easy.
But as someone (I forget who) recently said to me, the challenging, strong-willed kids are much more interesting to raise, and much more rewarding in the end. I still have high hopes that a difficult early childhood will be followed by an easy teenage time period. But anyway, I think parents get their parenthood points by dealing with kids when they're being difficult - not just when they are sleeping in a carseat all day.