Monday, March 15, 2010

He ain't heavy

Miles turned one on the first of March.

We just had a little family party with my Mom and us. Cupcakes, balloons, presents and all that, but pretty low key overall.

While his presence in our lives has had effects, both joyful and not-so-much, on all of us, I think it's fair to say that the person most impacted by Miles's arrival has been Nolan.

Nolan loves his brother, of this I am certain, but I also know that a lot of the time, Nolan hates his brother. Or rather, he hates that all of my attention and love is not focused solely on him any longer.

I suppose this is quite natural and something that happens with all siblings, and indeed must have happened to my brothers and I growing up, but there are times when I am blown away by the sheer force of his rage. Thankfully, he mostly directs that rage at me, rather than Miles. There are occasional "Oops, I didn't realize that spinning him so hard in his jumper would cause his head to crash into the door frame" moments, of course, but they seem to be genuinely accidental for the most part.

It is only recently that it's dawned on me and KB that this is the reason for Nolan's rather precipitous slide into violent behavior in the last few months. (We're a bit slow on the uptake sometimes - this whole two kids thing is new to us.) Over just the last couple weeks I have been bitten, punched, kicked, pinched, screamed at and more, as Nolan seems to be saying, "Damn you, woman! Damn you for bringing that other baby into this house!" (The conflict at hand is never about Miles, of course - it's usually about why I won't let him watch more TV or how come I cleaned up his super-cool train track before he had a chance to take a picture of it. Perhaps that's why it took us so long to figure it out - he can't come right out and say he's pissed at us for having another baby, so he expresses it in other ways.) It wasn't so bad at the beginning, when Miles was just a little podling, but now that he's a full-fledged one-year-old (he hasn't quite qualified for official "toddler" status, yet) Nolan is having a very hard time.

I suppose we should have known the jig was up last fall, when Nolan wrote a play at his school. (His school, if I haven't mentioned it before, is a kick-ass Reggio Emilia-inspired preschool that really lets the kids expend their creative energies in a variety of ways. Check out the atelierista's blog. You'll get to see pics of Nolan in action at school.)
The play was basically just a cast of characters and some pictures illustrating the action (no dialogue or stage directions just yet), but the cast of characters was as follows:

The Only Baby.......................Nolan
The Mother............................Caroline
The Father.............................Kevin
The Dog..................................Miles

(There was also a special guest appearance by a boy from another classroom as Santa Claus.) Now, if that doesn't tell you that Nolan is having some adjustment issues, I don't know what would. But we just laughed about it and told our parents and friends in an "Isn't this cute?" kind of way, and I think we failed to really take seriously Nolan's deep ambivalence toward his brother.

So we'll be trying harder. I'm going to make a special effort to carve out some Nolan-and-Mommy time, and I won't make the mistake of sending him to (or, actually, picking him up and forcing him into) his room when he gets angry and violent. That just makes him more angry - probably because he doesn't want to be separated from me. Sigh. Poor Noney.

Thanks for reading.