“Rita, where is the baby?” I repeatedly ask on the hour. “Right here,” she asserts again self assured and with confidence as she points to herself. The gesture is not to be confused with the suggestion that she, like her mother, is carrying a baby within her own belly. Rather, she is sure to clarify with the statement, “I am the baby,” while staring directly into my eyes, without blinking or wavering, or even slightly acknowledging the imminent arrival of her younger sibling.
“What is in mommy’s belly?” I continue to jostle in a high pitched voice so as to indicate playful reassurance that all will be well as she continues to ignore in cold, staring, silence. Her reply is sometimes a shoulder shrug, sometimes a decision to face her back to my face, and most frequently a concentrated effort to change the subject as quickly as possible with the statement, “I pooped again.”
“Why don’t you feel my belly?” I offer, even more playfully, as her new little brother or sister threatens to bruise my ribs while their movement reveals the shape of knees, elbows, feet, and most especially noticeably, his or her bum through my skin and shirt.
I take her hand, place it on the moving limb, and she, stars again into my eyes, her bangs just over her eyelashes doing little to hide her insistence.
“Top it, Regina” she says, unaware of the hilarity of her silent ‘S,’ and no longer willing to refer to me by anything other than my legal name. Her tendency to refer to me not as mom when commanding me to “Clean this,” “Get this,” or “I want a marshmallow,” has taught me well that she does, in fact, mean it, and there will, upon my refusal to abide by her request, most likely, be consequences.
“Let’s feel the baby kick!” I insist again while tickling in a mother’s desperate attempt to prepare the inevitable shattering of her denial from causing potentially permanent psychological damage and/or a purposeful hockey stick to my newborn’s soft spot.
She smiles, lays on her back, and begins to kick me. “Baby kicking!” she exclaims happily as her foot slams into that of her unborn family member.
I really hope you like your new baby brother or sister. I hope even more that he or she doesn’t accidentally steal away your second birthday and ruin your life forever.