While Kris was getting Ani ready for bed last night, he told me to watch.
“High five,” he said to her. She smacked his open palm.
“Aww! I wonder when she learned that!”
Walking down the sidewalk to church, Kris imitated a chicken. “Bok, bok, bok,” Ani repeated.
“Ani is so cute,” Zoe says. Yes, she is.
It’s cute when her brothers call “Ani-BOO” and she runs to them to give a hug.
Cash let her sit in his lap the other night (I had danced her around to a song and then set her down and she was SO MAD). But then he laid down she kept flopping onto him and they both thought this was funny until one of her flops landed on his face, knocking his teeth into his lip so hard that the lip busted open.
Cash cried and Kris loved on him and Ani came over to place a hand on Cash. We all knew she hadn’t done it on purpose but yo, it still hurts. I joked that Ani’s head was like a boulder.
“Ani’s head is like a bowling ball,” Cash decided. And all was well.
The Time of the Playpen is coming to an end. (As did the Time of the Bottle.) This is a triumph.
I’ve been telling Ani for months things like “stay in here” or “come back where I can see you” and “you can have free reign of the house when I can trust you.”
But I couldn’t trust her. To not pull the lamp off the end table if I left the living room. To not chew on the bricks of the fireplace. Don’t touch! Don’t lick! No, no, no!
When we got home with her, we borrowed the playpen Kris’ parents still had. (We’d given ours away, thinking we’d be adopting past the playpen stage.) Patsy bought one at a rummage sale. I got another one at a yard sale to replace the one we’d taken from Kris’ parents. So there was a playpen at home and at both grands.
And if Ani couldn’t have an adult’s undivided attention, she had to go in the playpen. (And as you can imagine, as one of FOUR, she can’t always have an adult’s undivided attention.)
In the Grand Scheme of things, time in a playpen is fine. But she spent her first 21 months confined to a crib, y’know? And we never put the boys in a playpen except to like nap. So, big dose of Mom Guilt about the playpen.
Lately, we’ve been using the playpen mostly as a storage device. A toy goes in the playpen for time out if Ani refuses to use her hands. We throw the big red yoga ball in there to get it out of the way. Ani herself hasn’t spent much time in it for weeks.
She’ll play with toys now. She’ll play with her siblings. She’ll snack. She’ll hang out with her parents just observing.
So I can tell the big three “I’m getting in the shower — will you watch Ani?” and they know it means, stop her if she tries to climb the stairs or touch the television.
Sometimes while getting ready for school, one of the twins will put Ani’s shoes and jacket on for her. Zoe is usually the first to be all ready and a few times, she has bounced Ani on the yoga ball while the boys finish up.
I don’t have words for awesome it is to see the way they all love their little sister.
Babies add a wonderful dimension to family life for older children. I am the oldest of 8 kids, and have rich memories of carrying younger siblings around, doing their hair, dressing them, and enjoying the feeling of being a competent older sibling, complete with all the adoration that the little ones showered on me. Yeah, they get into your stuff and cause extra work. But it’s pretty darned hard to be a cranky teenager when you’ve got a tiny sibling patting your face and unabashedly loving you. ... I think of the friendships I treasure with my own siblings now as an adult. Each of my siblings blesses me uniquely, and irreplaceably. I am thankful for their friendship and love and support, and I look forward to seeing those kinds of bonds grow among my children as they move into adulthood as well. In a big family you’re never alone in the world. And that’s something to celebrate!