Look closely. What do you see? A birthday boy tearing into his gifts with the unbridled glee of a brand new four year old? Yes. But look closer. Who else is in this picture? Left hand side in the back...
He doesn't look too happy now, does he? Why ever not? He certainly had his share of Cheetos and juice boxes at the party. What's got his swim diaper all in a bunch?
When I uploaded these photos last night, I burst out laughing because this picture says more than 1,000 words about what's been happening at our house lately. (Just in case those 1,000 words aren't clear, let me explain in roughly 300 or so.)
I've managed to dodge this bullet for years. My first child was a boy. Then I had a girl, then another boy. Nobody argued much over toys. My oldest showed no interest in his little sister’s Groovy Girls and My Little Ponies. She left his medieval castles and knights alone. By the time our second son was old enough to play with toys, our oldest had moved on to bigger boy stuff like Legos and chapter novels. Petty toy squabbles were minimal.
Then I had another boy. That made two boys back-to-back. Dean, the baby, is fast approaching the ripe old age of two and is no longer mesmerized by rattles and cloth books. He's into toys. His brother’s toys, to be specific. He's bypassing the Little People and wooden puzzles stage and going straight to Star Wars and all things “cool.”
Whatever his brother has in his hands, that's what Baby Dean wants. Right now. He screams and screams until I just can't take it anymore and I beg his brother to hand it over.
"Please! He'll take a nap soon!" I promise like a polished politician. "You can play with it then!" Or, "Just let him play with it and he'll get bored and drop it in less than five minutes. Please! Please!”
Of course, I feel awful making my four-year-old hand over his new precious birthday presents into such small sticky hands. I've read parenting books that say to never "make" a child share. It only fuels resentful feelings and it's more akin to stealing than sharing. Sharing, in its truest sense, is a benevolent act of free will and now I'm stealing his opportunities to be genuinely generous.
To make matters worse, I realize I'm creating a typical youngest child in Baby Dean. He can get whatever he wants by screaming loudly, and I'm ashamed to say, his tactic is working. (Before my baby-of-the-family readers get too upset, I'm a baby-of-the-family myself. I know from whence I speak.)
Whenever Big Brother strikes back and takes a toy away from The Baby, I, of course, side with the innocent cherub with the blue eyes the size of Play-Dough lids. (Or as my sister-in-law once put it, "He looks like that cat from Shrek.") Who wouldn't?
But this photo tells all. For the first time Baby Dean's baby blues don't look so blue. They look green.
I believe my tot needs to leave the snuggly world of "my baby can do no wrong," and enter the harsh realm of "this boy needs some discipline."
It's either discipline… or buy two of everything.
(The key is to purchase exact duplicates. No color variations, no size differences. Exact.)