Getting older is something no one seems to like. I’ve met senior citizens who were stressed out about getting older, I’ve watched middle aged people have crises over aging, and I’ve listened to young people cry their eyes out over turning thirty (in fact, no one seems to whine about aging as much as those turning thirty). The crazy thing, though, is that while I’ve known people of all ages fear aging, I never thought in a million years that someone Annie’s age would have that fear.
A few nights ago I put Annie down to sleep in her big girl bed, but instead of falling asleep she grew restless and whiny. I came back into the room and tried to soothe her.
“Go to sleep,” I said in my sweetest voice.
“Close your eyes,” I whispered as I patted her back.
But no matter what I said or did Annie continued to be unhappy. Eventually, she sat up, crying, and said, “I don’t like my big girl bed!” This struck me as very bizarre because the kid loves her big girl bed. In fact, she asks every visitor who comes to our house (even the UPS guy!) if they’d like to check out the awesomeness that is her big girl bed.
“Don’t be silly,” I said. “You love your big girl bed.”
“No! I don’t like it! I want my crib!”
Before I could wrap my head around Annie’s wanting to be back in her crib she yelled “I don’t want to be a big girl! I want to be a baby!” Annie’s face was red and tears were streaming down her face. She was really worked up, and kept shouting that she wanted to be a baby over and over.
Not quite baby Annie in her crib
I have to tell you, seeing her like this was both heartbreaking and a little unsettling. Was she actually feeling nostalgia over being a baby? Was she angst-ridden over getting older and growing into something other than what she was?
Another possibility, I suppose, is that she could be reacting to the fact a baby is coming and doesn’t want to give up being the baby of the family (though she should know she’ll always be my baby). Whatever it is, though, I hope it was just a one time thing and not something that comes up again. I much prefer it when she is happy and carefree, like today, when visions of Princess Sofia danced in her head.
Before I even got to your last paragraph, the first thought that came into my head, is that she is reacting to the prospect of a new baby. I shouldn’t worry too much about it. The fact that you are preparing her so far in advance, it’s better for her to show her fears now, so that you and Heather can deal with them now, and reassure her, so that by the time the baby arrives she’ll be used to the idea, and once she sees the baby, she’ll just fall in love with him/her. I guarantee you this will happen!!
Attack of the jealous toddler! I spent 3 months when my mum was having my brother refusing to wear ‘pitty dresses’ which I had loved and saying I was a boy, took my mum ages to work out it was because people had been saying how nice it would be if she had a boy this time and I heard ‘mum wants a boy!’.
Have a little chat with Annie about how being a big girl is super exciting and she’ll be fine!
Total jealousy! I have been there and done that (several times) and I think it is important to make sure she knows that as a big girl she can do so much more than the baby. Every time you do something fun or that she loves mention how since she is the big girl she can do it and babies can’t. It is probably wrong according to every child psychologist but when you are in the trenches it is patch it and move on.
It can also work with potty training. Make a deal about how the diaper smells so bad but since she is a big girl she gets to wear underpants and smell nice. Also don’t make a big deal about changing the baby when she is around. I found that if I paid tons of attention and cooed and made a deal over the baby my son wanted the same so he started pooping in his pants. I shut it right down but I just made sure that diaper changes were all business when he was around.
She will be fine and so won’t you.
Yes – I agree that she is very likely reacting to the new baby. I also wonder if it’s complicated by Maddie who, to Annie, is always a baby in the pictures she sees. Maybe it’s hard for her to process that, and the new baby has triggered everything. Again, it’s so terribly unfair that sweet Maddie doesn’t get to grow up like her siblings – and any other fall-out is even more unfair.
yep…definitely over the new baby coming…..I would not expect this to be the last of it!!! Hang in there…
I don’t know if it’s jealousy or not. My girls have both gone through this at different times–and that’s without adding a new baby to the mix. There are huge turning points where they want to be older and younger at the same time–the transition from baby to “big girl,” the transition from toddler to preschooler, preschooler to school-age kid. Right now my girls are in 6th and 7th grade, and on a recent day home from school they both spent hours curled up on the couch watching preschool shows on tv. The younger one even got out a sippy cup and her favorite lovey. And this without a touch of irony. Sometimes you just feel nostalgic–even when you’re a little kid.
You’re lucky that Annie is verbal enough to EXPRESS IT, which really is a blessing. I suspect a lot of kids her age just have those frustrated moments and their parents never have any idea what’s going on in their heads. . .
I tend to agree with the girls….she is reacting to the baby. The one thing that struck me in your post was when you said “though she should know she’ll always be my baby”. Don’t take for granted she should know this b/c as much as you tell her, when she feels insecure or unsettled about this new arrival, she is going to need to be reminded of this constantly. I’ll never forget when I had my daughter. I was taken so off guard how angry my son was at ME!!! He LOVED his sister but boy was he upset at us!!! Me the most!!! Just remember just as you and Heather are adjusting to Heather being pregnant, so is Annie. Only she has no other experience to relate it too so it is even More stressful and I’m sure overwhelming at times for her. I’m sure EVERYTHING will be GREAT but you will have your moments….it’s natural. Hold on tight Dada cuz you’re in for quit the ride…but it will be well worth it!!!!
My almost 4 year tells me often that she doesn’t want to get big. Usually I’ll ask why and it always has something to do with still wanting to play with her toys. But in the next breath she will tell me she’s not a baby. I would love to actually get in thier minds.
Agree with the others, but also wonder ( as another commented) about images of Maddie, who is well loved and will always be a baby, but somehow the “big sister,” too. Is it confusing to Annie? She is unaware of the meaning of death, so to Annie is Maddie a phantom character who never does anything she shouldn’t, never grows older and never has to go through childhood transitions? It could be that this is a difficult position for Annie – she is neither the first-born nor the baby.
I also would guess jealousy of the new baby. When my son went through this, I just told him babies can’t have ice cream (or other liked foods) and isn’t it much better to be a big kid.
Ah poor kid! My oldest daughter went through this too. We had to explain many times the benefit of being a big sister. Once she met the new baby, all anxiety was gone and she was thrilled. Annie will be fine. This is pretty normal behavior.
My guess is you and Heather were talking about getting the crib set up for the baby, or something along those lines. and it stuck with her that that’s HER crib, and she was just in it. It’s becoming real to her now that someone else will be in the house who is little…and a BABY! good luck, i’m sure it’s natural!
Definitely something to think about!!!
I would definitely suggest a new/different colored crib for the new baby, then! LOL
Besides, isn’t Annie using the crib-turned-into-big-girl-bed?
It’s all natural. She’ll be fine. Although she sees Maddie as the baby, and the baby that is coming so that’s why she’s saying she wants to be a baby herself. Kind of confusing for a toddler, but I’m sure once the baby is here she will be a little helper to the both of you and she’ll be just fine. Annie is so smart.
My 5 year old went through this also. We have done a lot of remodeling in our house since we’ve lived in it, and when she sees pictures of herself when she was younger and the house (particularly her room and the kitchen) look different, she starts crying and says, “I just want everything back the way it was!” It is equally parts baffling and heartbreaking.
I’m sure it’s related to the baby coming. But I think that some kids also just get nostalgic and are aware of existential anxiety sometimes. One of my five year olds, in particular, cries sometimes about missing her preschool and tells me that she “misses the old days.” When she and her sister were four, we had a few tearful nights when they got sad thinking about growing up, “because then we will move away from you, and I will miss you!” I told them they can live with me forever if they want. But really, some kids just think about these things. All growing up is a mixed bag, right? She’s just aware of how bittersweet it is.
My girl is the same age as Grace. A month ago we had a baby cousin stay and all of a sudden my big independent girl wanted to be babied. We played along and made it a game – pretending to swaddle her and rocking her and before long she was back to being a big girl. It’s unsettling for Annie knowing a new baby is coming but keep reassuring her and praising her big girl behavior when it happens.
Annie is very popular in my house – I tend to use her as a teaching tool! Look Grace Annie is doing gym with no nappy! Lol
Yep. It’s the new baby. See, Annie is reasoning that with a new baby around, she won’t get any chances to be babied anymore.
Give her a heads up from me: I’m 36, and my mom confessed as recently as a year ago that a lot of times when she sees me, she doesn’t see the “mom of one toddler” me, but her own little toddler instead. I might as well be playing mommy with dolls, in her book. I dub this “mom-vision”. I think I will only stop being a “baby girl” when my mom is no longer in the realm of the living.
Tell Annie that while she might no longer be the littlest baby in the house, insofar as you and Heather are concerned, she will always be your baby (and trust me, she’ll get through her teenage years wishing very much it wasn’t the case ;)).
I think it’s pretty typical of kids this age to have conflicting emotions about growing up. When my son was this age I used to say he had the “want to be a baby/want to be a big boy” syndrome. He had some meltdowns like you described. I remember playing baby a lot, where he would want to be held and carried and swaddled, even drink from a bottle. I always played along. There was no new baby in our case, but it might be the reason for you why it’s suddenly on Annie’s mind.
My daughter was freaking out about turning 4. Cried her eyes out, shouting, “I don’t want to turn 4! I don’t want it to be my birthday!” We were totally confused (what little kid doesn’t like birthdays?) Turned out, she was afraid that when she turned 4, should wouldn’t fit in her favorite princess dresses anymore (which she lived in.) Nothing we said could convince her, either. When she woke up the morning of her bday as a 4 year old, she immediately had to try on her dresses, and was SO relieved they all still fit, haha. Then she was able to enjoy her birthday.
I agree with other comments though, the new baby on the way might have something to do with Annie’s “I want to be a baby” outburst. She’s so cute.
I’ve been worried about my niece who is turning 4 in Feb & hasn’t wanted to turn 4 for several months now– she begs us to NOT let her turn 4, as though we can prevent it!
From what I’m reading, I guess this is more normal than I’d realized! Thank God! LOL
One of my daughters said the same thing when she turned four. (Along with, “But I WASN’T DONE WITH THREE YET!”) It still comes up from time to time — like when we got rid of the sippy cups, or she graduated from pre-k, etc.
This is good to hear, because my niece is turning 4 in Feb & hasn’t wanted to turn 4 for several months now–like it seriously bugs her & she begs us to NOT let her turn 4, as though we can prevent it! LOL I guess this is normal???
I think it’s a normal phase, and might be part of a reaction to the thought of a new baby. There’s no chance of a new baby in this household, but my almost 5yo will waiver between ‘I don’t want to grow up’ and ‘I want to be an adult and watch TV all night like you and Daddy.’ I think she’s just making sure we’re still paying attention *G*
Our twins did not want to turn 5 but on the day of their party they were as happy as ever. They have also said that they would like to be babies again. I am not sure if it is because of their brothers (who both died as babies.
Annie could be reacted to the new baby, Maddie or just going through a stage. I am sure that it will keep changing as she grows up. Little people always seem to come up with something new – maybe just to keep their parents guessing. . . .Take care.
As there are 22 comments prior to mine, I will admitt to not reading them all…though I’m sure many mention Annie coping with expecting a new baby & the concept of growing up.
I swear that Annie & my niece, Teagan, would get along fabulously! They both have wonderful imaginations & love princesses & have games they are slightly obsessed with (you have Pandas, we have Monkeys!). They are also both very mature & tall for their ages. And, of course, both are gorgeous!
My niece will be 4 in Feb. Since she was about 2 1/2 she had anxiously looked forward to being 4 “like Caillou” until about 5 months ago. This is a child who loves parties of any kind about as much as Annie & especially loves celebrating birthdays. But suddenly Teagan no longer wants to be 4…she begs us to let her NOT turn 4. It’s the strangest thing. She knows her birthday is coming up in Feb. She knows 3 comes after 4. But she keeps begging us to not let her be 4 yet. It’s crazy. We’ve all kept listing all the many wonderful things that come prior to her turning 4: but the list is getting shorting, several aunties, uncles, & cousins & grandmas have had their birthdays, even daddy has had his birthday; now we’ve had Halloween & Thanksgiving…Christmas is coming upon us fast, with a few more birthdays thrown in before hers. Oy vey! What’s a girl to do?!?
I truly hope that Annie’s “I want to be a baby still” phase is short lived (I think it is something most toddlers go through, especially those who are about to become big sisters/brothers)…
If anyone has any advice on how to convince an almost-4-year-old that turning 4 will be great, especially as it cannot be avoided, that would be awesome!
By the way–kudos, once again, to you & Heather as parents, that while Annie may not be able to identify WHY she wants to remain a baby, she still feels safe & comfortable turning to you & crying out that she DOES want to remain a baby!
I’m so glad she was able to express to you what was wrong, that she was sad, that she missed her crib, missed being a baby, didn’t want to be a big girl: that is a beautiful parent/child relationship right there!