As Cherise was giving Iris a bath, Robyn and I settled in for a
leisurely bedtime reading of "Larry Gets Lost In San Francisco" when
Robyn puts her hand over to me and says "here you go, Daddy!". I took
what she offered out of her hand and it was small and sticky. "What’s
this, Robyn?" Robyn looks at me and says "It’s a booger, daddy." I
looked at this disgusting sticky ejection from my daughter’s nose and
asked "why are you giving me this?" She looks deep into my eyes and
says "I love you, Daddy."
Wow, it was the most rewarding mucous-related gift I’ve ever
received. And proof that we’ve got yet another charmer.
It’s been two years since Cherise and I officially entered the
world of multiple kids. Needless to say, this was a big transition for
everyone involved. Instead of acting like the world revolved around
Iris, we now had to split our time across the two kids. Instead of one
parent handling bath while the other relaxed, we had to become the tag
team. Twice as much stuff to pack. Twice as many bedtimes. Twice as
many names to remember (people with 0 or 1 kids think I’m joking, but the
other parents know what I’m talking about). Yep, it was quite the
transition. But the transition felt mostly logistical in 2008 after the
birth. Now, two years later, it’s become far more mental as we take on
a new personality. As Cherise pointed out in the last blog post, Robyn
is a chatterbox and communicates in eloquent sentences that truly
express herself. We’ve escaped that Helen Keller communications barrier
and entered a world where you can actually have a conversation with
her, which I’ve always found far more rewarding. And she doesn’t say
the sentences. She provides inflections in her voice that are accurate,
but still comical on how much of an inflection she provides. She
sounds like a hammy stage actor that overplays every line. For example,
one of our nighttime rituals is to play music and dance. But when
Robyn, she doesn’t just say "Can we dance, please?" She emphatically
announces "I want to DANCE!". My daughter the diva. Nightmares of her
growing up to be Lady Gaga are sure to ensue.
A great by-product of this development is that we can really
begin to pinpoint her personality now. Instead of interpreting her
behavior, we can actually hear her tell us how she feels and what she
thinks. We’ve entered the next stage of parenting with Robyn and
helping foster her development. However, something is a little
different this time and I don’t mean that we know what we’re doing a
little more (though that is true). You see, with Iris, I spent a lot of
time thinking about my influence on her and how Cherise and I could
help cultivate her behavior. With Robyn, Cherise and I are no longer
the biggest beacons of influence. No, that job belongs to Iris. This
makes having multiple kids soooo worth it.
Robyn intensely studies every move her sister makes. From saying
"please" and "thank you" to telling jokes to meltdowns when things
don’t go according to plan (well, I didn’t say it was ALL good). What
makes their relationship even more fascinating is that it is a
combination of worship and rivalry. When Iris tells a joke or says
something funny, Robyn gets excited and repeats it verbatim. It’s like
having a constant echo chamber. Meanwhile, if Iris wants something,
Robyn wants it too. What makes this so bizarre is how intensely
different the two girls are. While Robyn has done a great job evolving
her own set of personal quirks and preferences, she still keeps a close
eye on Iris and tries to learn from how she does things.
Of course, this doesn’t come as a complete surprise. From the
day Robyn arrived home from the hospital, we tried to impress upon Iris
that this was going to happen. Any time Iris behaves improperly, part
of my conversation with her is around her responsibility to serve as a
role model for her sister. Most of the time, you can see the wheels in
her head turning when I bring this up. Being a good big sister is
really important to her and, despite the rivalry, she really does love
Robyn. What’s great is to see how early Iris is taking to the role.
While she occasionally attempt to reject the role because it limits her
freedom to be a pain in the butt to her parents, there are days when she
really tries to teach Robyn. Of course, Robyn takes to the subtle,
implicit lessons far better than the hard core explicit lessons, which
led to this conversation:
IRIS: (exasperated) Daddy, I give up.
ME: Give up with what?
IRIS: Robyn. I just can’t get through to her.
ME: What are you talking about?
IRIS: I try and try, but she just doesn’t listen. So I give up.
ME: Oh, I don’t think you should give up. Someday, she’s going to end
up being your best friend. She is going to learn a lot from you, just
like I learned from your Uncle Ricky, and Mommy learned from Uncle Sean,
and Dula Pehi learned from Barna Pehi. Having brothers and sisters are
a wonderful thing. I’m really lucky Uncle Ricky didn’t give up on me,
although I’m sure he probably wanted to at some point.
IRIS: I don’t know.
ME: Trust me. Stick with it and you’ll be glad you did.
I never knew a four-year old could suffer from exasperation, but I
am amazed by how she has listened to us enough to make this conscious
effort to help her little sister. Plus it’s fun to paint this picture
of them in the future–as hard as it is for Iris to buy into it. But as
they grow and get more comfortable in their role, I have no doubt that
Iris will truly manage to be an amazing big sister. And then she’ll
probably start a blog about it that puts ours to shame. I can’t wait.