A great many parents told me that Annie would more than likely go through an adjustment period after her baby brother came home. Well, its now been eight days since James became a resident of Casa Spohr, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that Annie is smack dab in the middle of her adjustment period. That, of course, was to be expected. What wasn’t expected, though, was how she would act during this adjustment.
If you’d asked me a few weeks ago what I expected this adjustment would look like, I probably would have told you I was worried that Annie was going to resent her brother. That seemed to make the most sense to me. Annie, after being the only kid in our home for three and a half years, would rebel against having to share her parents and throw a tantrum.
“I don’t want him here!”
“I hate him!”
“Why did you do this to me?”
“You don’t love me anymore!”
Yep, the Annie in my imagination was even more dramatic than the real Annie, and that’s saying something. The thing is, Annie didn’t react that way at all. She LOVES James. Every morning she runs up to me and asks if she can see her baby brother. She begs her mother to let her hold him dozens of times a day, and when she gets to she coos, “Ooh. So cute!” She pleads with me to let her change his diapers. She even bursts into impromptu songs in his honor out the blue:
“JAAAAAAAMMMMES! I LOVE MY BABY BROTHER! JAAAAAAMMMMMES! HE’S MY BEST FRIEEEEEEEEND!”
Clearly, my fears of Annie rejecting James were way off the mark. But… that’s not to say she’s been unaffected by the changes in our home. All of a sudden she needs someone to play with her all day long. I wonder where my little girl who would play by herself went. She’s also been defiant at times, but then bursts into tears and reaches out for hugs when she sees Heather and I are unhappy with her.
I’ve sat Annie down and tried to have a heart to heart, asking her if she has any questions about things or if she’s feeling sad or nervous, but since she’s three these conversations never develop in the meaningful way I hoped, and usually devolve into a conversation about Wreck It Ralph in less than a minute.
I think it’s safe to say that, despite being over the moon about having a brother, Annie is nevertheless feeling a bit anxious about things. Heather and I recognize that this is a difficult adjustment for a little girl to make and try to give her lots of reassurance in the form of kisses, hugs, and attention, but so far she still hasn’t been quite herself. Of course, it’s only been a little over a week so far, so this all still pretty new to her.
So, uh, how long do these adjustment periods last? Two weeks? Three?