Tuesday, 6 October 2009

"How old are you?"

"Too old."
"No, really how old are you?"
"As old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth."
"You do not ask a lady how old she is."
"You're not a lady. You're a girl. Anyway, I am going to have a brother. He's coming today."
"Yes, I know. Aren't you lucky?"
"Well he will only be one day old and that's too little to play with. I want a brother you can already play with. I didn't want to but I got my trucks and my football all ready for him. Daddy said I have to share. I don't want to share!"
"It's good to share but you can go on playing with them by yourself for a while yet. He will grow up you know, like you are growing up. It will be different when he has grown up. You will like playing with him then."
"That's too slow. If I have to have a brother he has to be grown up now."
"It's too fast, believe me, it is too fast."
"But just a day takes forever and ever. Anyway he's really and truly coming today isn't he?"
"Yes. They will be here soon."
"I still don't think I like it very much. Cat, will you read ME that story?"
We sit cosily together in the biggest chair. It's a tight squeeze. He cuddles in even tighter. We read Katie Morag and the Tiresome Ted again. (Mairi Hedderwick) It is the fourth time I have read the story that morning. It is the perfect book while waiting for your father to bring your mother and the new baby home.
At last there is the noise of a car door. He looks at me in alarm and excitement. I check out the window. Yes, the car is safely in our driveway. He cannot come to any harm. I nod and he throws himself out the front door yelling, "Can I see? Can I see him now?"
I put Katie Morag and the Tiresome Ted back in the bookshelf. I was not expecting to spend the morning doing this. Other arrangements fell through for people I scarcely know. They have no family here. They will leave again in about nine weeks and go back to family and friends in their own country.
I go out to the car slowly. He is kneeling on the seat looking in at the baby capsule in awe. His mother gives me a small tired, shaky smile. There were problems with the birth and there may still be some problems. There were other problems too. His father thanks me. "He didn't want the baby to come at all. What did you say?"
"I didn't say anything. Katie Morag told him four times." Such is the power of a good picture book.


Rachel Fenton said...

I have to say, as someone with an 8yr old who didn't want their 1yr old sibling, a year has not made a huge difference to my daughter's feelings! I had to write her a story about it just for herself!

I hope the baby and family make a recovery together.

catdownunder said...

I think he has decided he really does want his brother - he is just uncertain about it.
You've done the story? Get her to write one too! Then write another one about her writing it.

Adelaide Dupont said...

Now this is bibliotherapy at its finest.

A lot of people of my acquaintance seem to adopt out of birth order. There are already so many children in the world and each one is so very unique.

And also there is Antonia Forest's "The Readymade family".

catdownunder said...

Yes, I wish I could get hold of a copy of that one too! His father has just rung, laughing, "He says he thinks he will come back to you. He told me "Babies are boring. All they do is sleep!"

Adelaide Dupont said...

Yes, they do sleep a lot, don't they! (And eat, and poop!)

Another good book about a baby sister is probably one from the Ramona series. It's called Ramona Forever and she is about nine years old when the new baby comes. They joke about calling the baby Algie after the bear.

(the bear is a bit like the 'tiresome ted').

At the end Ramona is excited to go to school and spread the news about her little sister Roberta. There is also a subplot about Howie and the rich uncle.

(Ramona the Brave is probably my favourite if I think about it).