The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

May 17, 2013

LEVINE: Preparing for another child

By Scott Levine
Herald Associate Editor

---- — With a little more than a month before another child occupies my home, it’s becoming more apparent every day that my daughter is ready for her first sibling.

My wife and I aren’t near as prepared this time around (sorry son), considering the majority of our lives are devoted to entertaining an energetic toddler. By this time before our daughter was born, we had already set up the crib, read dozens of articles and had baby-proofed the home.

This time, we’re barely able to stop for a moment and think before crashing into bed at night. I’m sure that feeling of constantly being active will only multiply in a month. These last three years have taught me an important lesson — that “tired” is a relative term. I’m sure I thought I was “tired” before my daughter was born, but for some reason I can’t remember those days.

But this time, we know what to expect, at least from what we remember. And our secret weapon is our daughter, who keeps evolving into motherhood at the ripe age of 3.

Discipline

We won’t have to worry about discipline when our new boy enters the world. Our daughter has already started her reign of authority.

Like any healthy baby, our boy kicks my wife regularly. But, in my daughter’s world, kicking leads right to the time-out chair. With all the kicking that has happened in these last few months, my son has multiple days worth of punishment that my daughter is ready to dish out.

“When my baby brother kicks me, I’m sending him to time out, and then he will cry, and then he will say sorry, OK?” my daughter said as I was driving her home Thursday.

“But babies don’t talk,” I said. “And you weren’t punished as a baby, so why should he?”

“He will cry,” she said.

I can’t mess with that logic. She then proceeded to show me how he would cry, considering I don’t know how (hopefully she doesn’t talk to Grandma or Grandpa about that).

Punishment won’t be necessary for awhile, so she will likely focus her talents on things that happen quite frequently with new babies.

Changing diapers

I’m not looking forward to this one near as much as my daughter. It’s been almost two years since I had to change diapers regularly, and that’s not something I particularly enjoy as a father.

Luckily, I’ll have my daughter helping, and she’s been training for this since she was born.

Her dolls dirty so many fake diapers that it’s a miracle there’s not something wrong with them. One second after she’s changed her doll, there’s another mess to clean up. Maybe it’s the food she serves from her kitchen or maybe she’s one of those highly-sensitive moms concerned about having a clean diaper every second. Either way, those dolls have digestive problems.

She will have to battle the occasional kick and squirming with an actual human, but I figure after a few times working with her brother, I can sit back, grab an ice-cold drink, and hand that chore off to my daughter. We’ll see how well that suggestion goes with my wife.

Feeding

Giving babies a bottle is one of my daughter’s favorite past-times. Sure, she’s not around too many newborns, but when she is, she wants control of that feeding time. Unfortunately for her, my wife will breast feed, but I’m not going to be the bad guy and let that secret out of the bag. I’ll let my wife handle that one.

But, occasionally, I’m sure some bottles will be needed, and lately, my daughter has practiced her technique on me. She starts by holding a toy bottle to my mouth, and after a few moments, she tells me to hold it, because she has other items to care of around the house.

Eventually, she asks me if I’m finished, and I say, “sure,” which is immediately rebuked, since “babies don’t talk, Dad.” I tell her 100 times not to stand on her chair at the dinner table, but I only need to tell her once that babies don’t talk, and she grabs on to that.

Even though my wife and I might not have the whole house baby-proofed yet, we’re confident our extra set of eyes will make the transition to two children seamless.

Or maybe I will have yet again another new definition of “tired.”

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at scottlevine@clintonherald.com.