I’m usually pretty quick with comebacks to almost everyone, including my children. But I was stunned speechless when my 5 year-old son asked for another sibling.
‘Mommy? Can I have a baby brother?’ he asked in his oh-so-cute five year-old voice. His question came out of the blue and I couldn’t help but burst into (perhaps, nervous?) laughter. One thing was for certain. This time, Mommy did not have a witty comeback. I think I laughed for about ten minutes though. I laughed so hard that my stomach muscles ached.
Trust me, I know exactly why my son asked for a baby brother and it’s not because he’s an only child and has no one to play with. My son already has three sisters, all of whom adore him, and who will play fight with him and build pillow forts and take him to Canada’s Wonderland and play soccer with him and share their beds with him if he wants to sleep with them on occasion.
“You may not know precisely why your child is asking or how serious the longing is. Nonetheless, ‘I want a sibling’ can be disconcerting and catch a parent off guard,” writes Susan Newman in this article on why your child may be asking for a sibling.
Yes, it was indeed disconcerting…but, that being said, I really needed that laugh after a long, stressful, day at work. When my daughter was an only child, for almost a decade before my son came along, she never once asked for a sibling. Not once! So this was new territory for me. Although I was completely taken off guard by his question, I knew immediately why he asked for a baby brother.
My son and I had been binge watching hilarious YouTube videos of siblings basically tormenting each other by pushing their younger siblings down, bashing each other, grabbing toys away, even knocking siblings over into snowbanks, and stealing cake from younger hands. Even I’ll admit the videos were pretty damn funny and my son thought so too. Together, hunched over his iPad, we giggled like, well, five year-olds, talking about poo and farts (five year-old boys just LOVE to talk about poo and farts.) Basically, I knew my son was asking for a baby brother so he could torture someone younger than him, just like in the videos.
A weird thing happened after I wiped away the tears of laughter at my son’s request for a younger sibling. I kind of felt…bad. Or maybe…sad. ‘Dude! You have it pretty good,’ I wanted to tell him. ‘Not only are you the only boy, but you are totally adored by three sisters and your parents are too old and tired, so we pretty much let you get away with anything and you pretty much get anything you ask for because your parents are always too tired to not give in to your demands.’
But he’s five and doesn’t really understand how lucky he has it.
For my son, I think putting an (imaginary) younger sibling in a huge cardboard box to push him over, as seen in one video, far outweighed the fact that he already has siblings who love him. And I think I felt bad because there are just so many females around him, and maybe he wanted another penis in the house. Plus, his eldest sister is heading off to University. His second eldest sister is going into grade 11. And the sister closest in age to him is heading into senior school.
In many ways, he’s treated like an only child, because of the age differences, and maybe he just wants another baby boy because, frankly, with all of us females we could open a clothing store as large as Nordstrom and have enough hair products and hair dryers to open a hair salon.
My son is not into makeup, that’s for sure, nor is he into hair straighteners. He just wants to play fight all the time. I think it made me sad, not because, scarily, at least to me, that I could still technically pop out another if I wanted to. It made me feel maybe a little blue because I couldn’t give him what he wanted and I couldn’t explain why. Or I didn’t want to tell him the truth. Truthfully, I have been having baby cravings, which is insane. But not so insane that the rational side of me knows there are many reasons why he’ll never have the chance to be a big brother to someone other than the dog or his pet fish.
How do you explain to your youngest (and last) that he has taken everything out of you? How do you explain that kids are expensive, and that if he wants to take hockey and soccer and have nice things, that another baby may take away everything he wants to do. How do you explain to a five year-old that I actually have a PLAN for the rest of my life and if I had another baby would set me back at least another thousand years and would completely ruin my plan of running away to a house on the beach, after all the kids leave the house?
Also, I’m so tired. So, yeah, generally speaking, I believe that you should be honest with your children, but this is a tricky one.
I thought about saying, ‘Where would the baby sleep?’ since there are so many people in my house. But he’s five and his answer would probably be something like, ‘He can sleep in my room!.’ Or, ‘He can sleep on the trampoline outside,’ Or, ‘’He can sleep in the bathtub.’ So what did I do? I asked my son, point blank, ‘Do you want a baby brother so you can push him into a snowbank like we saw on those funny videos?’ His answer was, ‘YES!’ (See? I know my son!)
“Some parents feel compelled to offer an explanation. If it makes you (and your child) feel better, then you should. Responses ride a fine line between wanting to share your thoughts — and possibly your disappointment if you and your partner did indeed wish to have more children — and making sure your child doesn’t feel as if he or she is not enough,” Newman also writes.
For me, my answer to my son, after I managed to stop laughing, was very simple. “Not gonna happen dude.’
What would you have said?
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