March 28, 2013 7:15 pm The Growing Heart
Alexa and Will Morgan were excited about the imminent arrival of their second child. Their three-year old daughter, Sunny was happy to become a big sister too. She was thrilled to think that she would soon be dressing the baby and carrying her around. Plans of sleeping in the same room and walking to school holding hands were already in her head. “I can’t wait to take our baby to the beach and eat some ice cream,” she told Alexa.
Alexa worried that Sunny had no idea of what was really in store for her. She knew that in spite of her every effort, the attention shift would be sizeable. Schedule adjustments would be necessary and their familiar little life as a trio would change.
That morning, as Sunny and Alexa walked through the park holding hands, Sunny asked, “Mommy, if the baby is a boy, will he like being my brother?”
Alexa smiled as she looked down at her daughter’s dark shiny hair. “Who wouldn’t love to be your little brother? Of course he will. And if we have a baby girl, she will be lucky to have you to teach her how to draw hearts and to do puppy imitations and all the things you do. You will be a perfect big sister.”
Letting go of her mother’s hand, Sunny ran to their favorite bench. While Alexa set out their picnic, Sunny looked at the pond where ducks were swimming slowly and plunging their heads down to find bits of plants to eat. Alexa pointed out to Sunny that the male duck had brighter feathers than the mother. Sunny felt both ducks looked nice, as did their babies. “It is funny that the babies all look like the mommy, and the mommy and daddy ducks look so different. I wonder if they really can tell those baby ducks apart.”
“I’m sure they can. Each of the ducklings is special to the parents.”
Sunny looked at the duck family for a long time. “Mommy, are the babies all girls, because they all have brown feathers on?”
“They get their permanent feathers later. They could all be girls, but probably not.”
“If you have a baby girl, will she look just like me? Will she be just like me?” Sunny asked with trepidation in her voice.
“Well, our baby might look like you and we’d be so lucky to have her be like you, but she will never be exactly the same. There is one Sunny Morgan and you are ours.”
Sunny seemed enormously relieved. Alexa realized that although life together felt smooth and happy, there were obvious three-year-old feelings stirring which needed almost invisible and yet deliberate attention.
Alexa found a buttercup and held it under Sunny’s chin. “Let’s see if it knows you love butter. Sure enough, the buttercup knows you do.”
Sunny smiled and said, “I will do that to our baby. I bet the baby will love butter too.”
As they passed the entrance to the beach, Alexa wondered if the concession stand had opened. She drove in to check and there it was, getting ready for business. They got out of the car and went to the snack counter. Sam, the owner was working on the stove.
“Hi, Sam,” smiled Alexa.
“Hi, Sam” said Sunny.
“So nice to see you,” he exclaimed. “We don’t have too much yet, but I do have two ice cream sandwiches.”
Sunny said, “Mommy, he remembered!”
“How could I forget? There is only one little girl who smiles so sweetly. Sunny, the winter was long, but not long enough to make me forget you.”
Sam handed them the ice cream sandwiches and a few napkins.
“Guess what, Sam? We are having a baby soon. Maybe a boy or maybe a girl!”
Sam said, “Great! Don’t forget to come see me after that baby comes.”
“I’ll bring the baby for ice cream the minute it gets born,” Sunny promised.
On the ride home, Alexa felt overwhelmed with love for Sunny. She promised herself to do anything she could to ease the shock Sunny would feel when the baby arrived and began to take up her parents’ time and attention. Alexa decided she would talk to Will that evening about planning some nice excursions with Sunny when the baby came.
Alexa knew she would grow more love for the new child without diminishing the enormous love she already had for Sunny. She hoped Sunny would always know what a giant and one of a kind place she held in Alexa’s heart.
Written by: Anne Martine Cook, Managing Partner & Mom, with 35+ years experience teaching nursery school children.
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