When Mazzy was a baby, she had no competition. She was the center of attention, the only occupant of the nursery, the focus of every meal, the owner of all the toys, the sole passenger in the stroller, etc.
With everything in our lives so Mazzy-centric, we spent a lot of energy trying to protect her from everything that could effect her negatively— germs, sharp edges, the evils of television.
Did you know children shouldn't be exposed to television before the age of two?
That's what they say.
"They" being people who don't mind singing The Wheels on the Bus fifty times in a row, I guess.
We would never shout around Mazzy. Not at eachother. Not at her. Even if we got frustrated with her (which we did, of course), it's not like we would ever yell at a baby. It's a baby! Her poor ears would be compromised! Her sense of self would be deflated! Surely, screaming at a baby would have an adverse effect on her psyche long term. These were the formative years, after all!
If that's the case, then POOR POOR HARLOW.
Harlow gets yelled at all the time. She gets her toys taken away, her seat stolen on the couch, her efforts to show affection rebuffed.
Not by us, mind you!
By her big sister.
Mazzy is a great sister. Most of the time. But she can also be really territorial, overly aggressive and kinda mean.
When Harlow is annoying her, Mazzy says something. When Harlow touches her stuff, she yells at her. When Harlow wants to play, Mazzy often tests the limits of how physical she can be until Harlow gets hurt. Even if Harlow starts to play with something on her own, Mazzy will swoop in with sudden interest and grab it away.
It's like Harlow has a bully who she has to live with full-time!
I think this is all normal older sibling behavior, but it's funny how much we thought Mazzy would have been ruined forever if exposed to the very same things.
I have to believe second children still stand a chance of growing up to be well-adjusted fully functioning adults, right?
Mazzy and Harlow share a room. Usually, we put Mazzy to bed a good hour after Harlow, so she's already sound asleep. But the other night Harlow was having trouble sleeping and was still wide awake when Mazzy got into bed.
"Ba bab ababa baba baba abababa!"
From the next room, I could hear Harlow cheerfully trying to converse, clearly excited she now had company.
"Bababa daddaddad bab baba!"
Mazzy ignored her.
"Bab dad bebe be dadad be!"
"Ba bababba bababa babababa."
This went on for the next fifteen minutes until finally, Mazzy had enough.
"GO TO SLEEP, HARLOW!!!!!!!"
Oh my god, Mike and I laughed and laughed.
But poor, Harlow. Getting a taste of rejection way earlier than Mazzy ever did.
Harlow must wrestle with her sister to get what she wants at every turn. Every effort is marred in conflict. Every toy she wants to play with needs to be negotiated.
When Mazzy was little, we didn't own toys that she wasn't allowed to play with. Why torture a child with shiny objects she can't have? Now, there are so many things Harlow is interested in— Mazzy's dollhouse, her Elsa and Anna dolls, certain books, jewelry— that are off-limits.
It doesn't seem fair.
I've never seen someone cry as pathetically as Harlow when I denied her access to Mazzy's gummy bear vitamins. I imagine her thought process went something like this…
But they are colorful little bears that you are willingly giving my big sister. All I want is one of them to see if they taste as good as Mazzy's delighted expression suggests. Why are you saying no? Do you love Mazzy more than me? Have I done something wrong? I DON'T UNDERSTAND!!!!
It's a rough life, to be the one-year-old sister to a four-year-old, I think.
Also, when Mazzy was little she had tons of playdates with friends her own age. Harlow gets shuttled around to Mazzy's activities and never gets to do things centered around her.
For the past year, I have assumed that Harlow is not nearly as social as Mazzy, but recently I discovered it's because she never has the opportunity.
I took Harlow to a music class over the weekend and she ran around the class like she owned it. Chatting up all the adults, giving gentle pets to the babies, standing in the center of the circle, clapping like a crazy person to the music.
It's like she was saying— Finally! This is for me!!!!!
The class was at a book store and Harlow took particular interest in one of the books. I bought it for her. It's her first book that isn't a hand-me-down from her big sister.
Do you know what Harlow did with that book when we got home?
She handed it to Mazzy.
As if the whole thing was a ruse to ingratiate herself with the Queen Bee.
Well, maybe being second fiddle has some long term positive effects as well.
Maybe Harlow will grow up with a more realistic world outlook. Knowing things aren't always designed to work to her benefit but also knowing exactly who's ass she has to kiss to swing them back in her favor.
Work the system, Harlow.
It will get you far.
Unless, "they" are right about the no television thing. Then Harlow is totally screwed.