The stranger’s words rang in my head.
“My son doesn’t really like his little sister.”
“I don’t have her with me today because I wanted to have a nice day with him.”
His son was a little older than mine.
His daughter just turned one.
We were at the playground, our sons playing on a train.
This dad and I didn’t know each other.
But we were making small talk, in that way that parents of preschoolers do.
That awkward attempt by adults to chat while their children play.
To pass the time.
And to bond with someone who identifies with their situation, their life.
We discussed the boys.
He asked how old my baby was.
We talked about the transition from one child to two.
We both agreed it was harder than the adjustment with our first.
He told me how unhappy their son was.
During the past four months, my son has been challenging.
He’s confused, seeking clarification of his role in our family.
And the attention he has lost.
He’s also at a stage that is tough, developmentally.
He’s acted up. And out.
But I have never questioned whether he loves his sister.
He needs to hug her, hold her, kiss her.
If anything, I worry his affection may be too much for an infant.
But it is love, not dislike.
Tonight, as our family sat in his bed reading stories, he looked at his sister.
She smiled at him, as she does whenever she sees him.
And he handed his Lovey, a blanket toy, to her.
Lovey has been with him since he was six months old.
He cannot sleep without her. She goes to the pediatrician. He takes her every time he gets in the car.
She comforts him when he’s sad or tired or scared.
She is his constant.
And tonight, he handed his Lovey to his sister.
He watched as the baby gnawed on her.
Teethed on her.
Laughed as his baby sister drooled on his treasured toy.
For a two and half year old, sharing is hard.
Sharing his Lovey, the object most close to his heart, is nearly impossible.
Unless, apparently, it’s with his sister.