Koala update: Five years

Koala,

We’ve been alluding to and celebrating your turning five for so long that, today, you were kinda over it. So we had a chill family day and I had a few minutes alone with you to really… see you.

Hilarious, hilarious you.

As much as the year before four was rough, something clicked soon after your last birthday. Within a few months I was pregnant, and even before we told you, you were suddenly beaming with a new-found affection. Hugs, kisses, caresses, soft secrets whispered in our ears. Even your questions, your curiosity, came from a rich source of love.

If that’s all I had gotten with a four-year-old boy, I’d have happily gobbled it up. But there was so much more this year.

You’ve gone from being an awesome older brother to continuing to be an awesome older brother, only you and your sister are kind of actually… also really good friends.

We’ve worked on you listening to her, and it’s a work in progress, but when you do I think you know you really benefit. She might have had a small role in nudging you into the world of pretend play. You’ve taken it on naturally, whether your the abba to her ima, the Moses to her Pharoah, or the dog to her… well… not so much loving you as a dog.

Here’s something I’ve confided in you this year; that I always wanted an older brother. I wonder what would have been different if my brother and I switched places. Would it be like you, where even though you’re older, you’re happy to try new things with your sister? Enjoy the things she likes just for the sake of feeling connected? Being inspired by her?

You are taking on responsibility yourself – priding yourself on your ability to help out. I think a lot of that was the evolution you underwent during this pregnancy; you really took in my subtle and not-so-subtle pep talks about life after baby and your new role.

A fun highlight this year: I’ll never forget that breathless moment when you showed me a drawing and I saw your freakin’ name scrawled across the top. Four big, block Hebrew letters that made my heart skip a beat and text your dad right away.

And, moving on, moving up and away… Then there’s my eternal personal conflict, which, I guess is not so personal anymore. You have become undoubtedly aware of our delicate, er, international situation. Family across one ocean, family across a hemisphere, and you have become painfully aware of it. How many times in the last few months have you asked me if we can go to America soon?

We’re lucky that we’ve had all your grandparents and uncles here at some point or another in the last year or so, and you absolutely adore each of them. And we so appreciate how quickly you fall in love… and likewise, that you feel the pain when it’s time for them to go. I wish it didn’t have to be that way. I haven’t figured that one out yet. I’m pretty sure, unfortunately, we just never will.

You are really really thinking things through. You’re definitely an analyzer; that’s been apparent for years. But now it’s that we know you’ll figure out a few steps ahead. And ask deeper questions, more at a time. And call us out on what doesn’t make sense…

About god, for example.

And it’s forcing me to come to terms with the disparity between what I believe or don’t believe, and how I live my life.

And how I choose to explain that to you.

Koala, you are someone I genuinely love to talk to. When we’re together, there are times and subjects I get to explore which I never did when I was a kid, whether because I was uninterested back then or not given the chance.

Thanks for that.

 

Koala update: Big brother edition.

One the of most common things I was told before ‘the bebe’ was born was: Brace for impact from your two-year-old.

With that, we prepped him as best we could, giving him a bebe of his own to ‘practice’ with and reciting daily the list of family members’ names over and over, with a fourth addition. Also, believe it or not, teaching him the number ‘four’ helped, using the classic family scenario on the backs of most cereal boxes.

And, my dear squishable Koala, you have rocked it. You are, for the last ten weeks, the ideal big brother for a baby girl: loving her when convenient, ignoring her when boring, and trying to help when dressing, changing and crying.

Things I love:

  • The ‘tova’ you so generously dole out.
  • The questions you ask about her. Mostly ‘bebe?’, but, I know what you mean.
  • The 2-year-old softly shhhing the newborn.
  • Your insistence, at bedtime, to kiss the bebe on the cheek when saying goodnight.

And, luckily, we’re able to use this older sibling status to delineate between babies and big boys; one of those groups uses a motzetz, and the other doesn’t. Someone is getting a big boy bed next week, and someone else will stay in a crib. And one of you is too small to help mama around the house, but one of you is totally awesome at it.

I know that when Bebe starts drooling on your shoes, grabbing for your toys, ripping up your drawings, you will get upset. The hitting will start. The tattle-taling. Part of life, Koala. But just remember that you’re an older brother and that’s an awesome responsibility, one that I hope you will always cherish.

And it hasn’t ceased to make me smile that when you see a cereal box with four family members on it, you still recite our family members’ names just like I showed you all those months.