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Wednesday, August 9

It's a 9 year difference

Ever since I started telling people about my pregnancy and how my daughters will have a 9 year age difference, a common reply is, "Oh, so you have a built in babysitter!" I don't know about you, but I would never trust a nine year old to babysit a baby. Now, maybe when my first born is *15* and my second is *6*, but right off the bat? No. And after hearing people suggest it enough, Darian has asked, in all truth, will she have to babysit at such a young age? I assured her that it is illegal for me to allow this.

My husband's family has experienced a wide span of ages between brothers and sisters. It is pretty common to hear how the oldest of one parent or grandparent helped raise the other kids in the family. And when they talk about having to do so, their voices express a slight undertone of resentment. (Not that they would ever admit to feeling that way! No!) Since the age gaps are so typical, it is assumed that Darian will feel that she, as most of the other women on that side have, were like a second mother. And they have told her this in so much as, "Oh, one day when you are grown up, you will feel like you have raised Piper!" I always come back and say that Darian's role in the family is to be a child and she is never to assume the role of a parent. Scott and I swore that we will NEVER do anything to make her feel like she has anything to do with parenting Piper. NEVER. That said, this morning at breakfast, Darian informed us that she will not be changing any poopy diapers. That's fine by us! We would much rather take that on than chase after the barking dog with the water bottle. Let her parent the dogs! Kids love that kind of stuff! How many movies have you seen where the 8-10 year old adopts or finds a puppy and has it trained to be the envy of all the dog owners in the neighborhood? I bet there isn't a warm and fuzzy movie about a 9 year old raising her sister. Can you think of one?

Today a colleague asked me why one would burden their kid with even mentioning the whole 'second mother' thing. I said I really don't know since I have been married to it for 13 years and it tends to fall on deaf ears. She, too, feels that, even though there is an older sibling in the house, it is not the child's obligation or burden to do any 'parenting' of the new babies or little ones. She then told me this anecdote about her children who are 5 years apart:

"My baby boy was crying and I was occupied for a second. I looked at my daughter who was 5 at the time and asked her to go in the baby's room and try to calm him down. She then put her hands on her hips and said, 'Excuse me, but I am not the mom here.' Well, that was my quick reality check!"

While I do expect my first born to show a bit more responsibility around the house- being proactive with the dogs and her laundry, preparing dinner for her weary parents, making 3am runs to the 24 hour Walgreens to get diapers, and mowing the lawn- I have absolutey no expectations for her with regard to the care, nuturing, and upbringing of our second.

Darian has graciously informed us that she will *play* with her sister. And that's about it.

Thanks, darlin'. You really do know how to listen to your mommy.

4 Comments:

  • At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Karyl said…

    You *may* have a "built-in" babysitter when Darian is 16 and Piper is 7, and you and your husband go out for your anniversary, though. I am 10 years older than my brother, and I was used for occasional babysitting duties. I actually enjoyed helping out with him when he was a baby (though we adopted him when he was 5 months old), but my parents never did *expect* me to do anything with him. It was great fun to push him round the block in his carriage, I remember. But now, even with our age diffence AND the gender difference, my brother and I are closer than my sister and I (four years apart) are. He really is one of my best friends.

     
  • At 4:49 AM, Blogger Vajana said…

    i am so right on with you on this one! SO many people have told me I have a 'built-in babysitter' since my girls are 6 and 9. What is this, 1930? Uh,no. And I will also not be that person who automatically requires the eldest to babysit at my whim. I know parents who go out all the time and expect their oldest daughter to watch the others CONSTANTLY. I won't do that.

    My neighbors were a good Catholic family of 12 growing up, and I always felt sorry for the older ones who were more or less required to take care of the younger ones. But on the other hand, they also now seem to have a stronger bond than other families do.

     
  • At 11:42 AM, Blogger SoozieQ said…

    My SIL has a son from a previous marriage, he's 9 years old. My Niece is *almost* 1 year old (next month). I do not see my Brother or SIL *EVER* expecting him to do anything other than be nice and play with his baby sister. Personally I don't think they'd trust him to babysit because he'd probably get too wrapped up in a video game and forget about her....but that's a whole 'nother story ;-)

     
  • At 11:39 PM, Blogger Lora said…

    I'm 8 years older then my brother and I love our age gap. Yes, I babysat. I had a single mom so she needed mre to help her out. I've never resented it, but I think it made me grow up a little to quickly at times. I admit that I tend to be a little overly protective of him to this day.

    Notice that if the eldest is a boy people never make the same assumptions.

     

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