One of the greatest joys of parenting five mini-humans is to watch as they transform into older siblings. Even if they spent years being an older sibling, the new life brings out a different part of their being.
Our four-year-old is getting to be a big sister for the first time and there is certainly a lot to keep an eye on as she takes on this new role. In the first couple of days, it became apparent that we needed to stop for a minute and talk about how we pet dogs and cats, but we don’t pet little sisters. Many times over the past five weeks, we have had to discuss the importance of letting a baby rest when their eyes are closed and that babies do actually need a lot of sleep.
But something we didn’t teach her was how to talk to her baby sister. Very naturally when baby sister came home from the hospital, she soothed, “It’s ok. Don’t be afraid. I’m right here.” How did she know how shocking being in the world is for a new soul? How did she know that perhaps the best comfort she could provide is to say it’s going to be ok and that there was nothing to be afraid of? Where did those words come from? How did she know that the scariest aspect of being in this strange new world was the fear that she was alone and there was no one to take care of her?
We watch in awe as she decides that she will share some of her beloved stuffies with her new baby sister. We marvel at the depth of her connection to care and comfort her sister. And she is teaching us something, too. Perhaps the best parenting we can do is actually not what we do, but what we say as life changes all around our five mini-humans: “It’s ok. Don’t be afraid. I’m right here.”