There were always so many things about Nadi’s personality that mad me feel he would be an awesome elder brother to have. He is sensitive, loving, warm and hilarious. Just the kind of older brother I wished for half my life to have (until of course I realized that the 2 sister deal I got wasn’t half bad either!)
With the way things worked out, we probably hadn’t prepared him enough for the oncoming changes. He knew very clearly that he would be getting a sibling (or two) and with my sisters baby due a month before mine, it was going to be a babyful month anyways. He knew that the babies would be pointless- as in they would not have any teeth, speech, or physical skills that would enable him to immediately recruit them mfor his beloved football games or drama and theatre performances. He would tell us time and again in utter exasperation how the babies will simply lie there and cry and drink milk until they were “grown upped” and big like him.
My sudden disappareance, the madness the ensued and then Leilas homecoming all must have taken a toll on him- but hes been mashallah such a trooper. He has tried to rationalize everything- I can hear the wheels actually turn in his head as he tried to take stock of each new situaion and adapt it to his own logic and understanding. When I saw him at the hospital after 3 days of no contact, I was taken aback at how suddenly grown up and mature he seemed in his behaviour and speech. I felt like a stranger and it broke my heart. Praise be the ephemeral nature of all things children because he was back to normal with me in a matter of hours- atleast phycially. Emotionally it took longer.
Given all this, I was both excited and hesitant about the introduction to Leila once we were home; he had seen them both in the incubator of course but what sense he made of that is still something I wonder about. I wanted him to love her, of course, but I also wanted him to take his time being himself – and accept her as something that was his to take care of.
As a friend very aptly put it, watching your kids interact makes it right up there in huge experiences to live for. Its a combination of having a truck sized lump lodged in your heart and throat and the overwhelming feeling of watching live, love at its best. Perhaps the sense of loss heightens what you have- at least temporarily- perhaps sibling love is actually one of those amazing loves- but literally every single time Nadi goes near her, I see a softening in his stance, his voice becomes melodious as he talks to his “Leila jaani” telling her all manner of random wisdom that will enable her to tackle the world with the same enthusiasm he does. He is infinitely gentle with his little paws which look gigantic next to her dainty smallness. He exudes this sense of pride and ownership as he talks about “his baby” and pokes fun at how she doesn’t do much other than sleep and poop all day whereas he has such a full agenda.
People have been warning me about sibling rivalry and how Nadi will feel neglected and ignored soon enough as Leila starts to demand more attention. I have read articles and blogs sent my way by “well meaners” on how to ease your much loved first born into the role where everything from toys to attention has to be shared. Having been part of a 2 plus 1 sibling/sister ratio forever, I am fairly familiar with the concept of rivalry. For the best part of our lives, my sisters and I have been embroiled in some kind of war- over ideals, clothes, attention from mom, life paths and sometimes actually nothing. The peace and friendship that we love and have now is a fairly recent phenomenon, something that came into play when we started moving out and into our own spaces. Now all the years spent together have acquired the rose coloured tint and we love each other and thanks to selective memory, always have! I guess what I am trying to say is that I anticipate many wars over the next many years inshallah- wars which will test my patience, which will make me threaten putting either myself or them up for adoption, which will bring forth tears and hurts- but at the end of the day, my little Thumbelina and my little Gentle Giant are a team. Perhaps an unlikely team, but a team of the best kind.