It’s hard being the middle child, I know, there is an older sibling bossing you around and a younger sibling getting all of the attention that you used to get. It irritated me the other day when our neighbors looked at and talked to the Baby for a long time, and didn’t even look at you. You sat there next to me smiling so sweetly and I hoped you wouldn’t notice that they were ignoring you. I realized it was a good time to give you some attention and so you and I smiled at each other and gave hugs and kisses while they were distracting the Baby.
I’ve relaxed my expectations of you more than I should have the past week or so. I’ve been so tired from late nights with Baby that I just ignored it on occasion when I told you to do something and you ran off to play instead. I’m sorry about that, it doesn’t help you to learn when I’m not consistent, and I’m sure that is a contributing factor in the way you have started to crumble and cry at the drop of a hat, especially whenever we say “No” to you. It's also harder to re-learn the boundaries when you got used to having them relaxed. Is there anyway I can help you understand that just because we don’t give you everything you want doesn’t mean we don’t love you, or are in any way rejecting you? It’s exactly the opposite actually. There have been a few good moments on my part, like the way I let you fully experience the disappointment caused by one of your choices. You were angry that I told you to let your brother have a turn riding the horse next to the grocery store. You were so angry that just to spite us all you refused to ride it when it was your turn. Only it didn’t bother us that much, but it made you very sad. I gave you one last chance and you refused to respond, so we walked away. You waited until we were 2 blocks away before you suddenly realized that you still wanted to ride it. I wanted so badly to take you back and let you, but I didn’t. I let you cry, and I let you realize how you had hurt yourself by holding onto your anger. That was a hard day for you. It was hard for me too, because I just want to give you everything you want, all of the time, even that real horse you want so you can ride on it.
You know all of those times when you just start to scream when I walk away from you to do something? I love you then too. Even though you are shrieking and clawing at me and pulling on me or the Baby and sobbing, I love you, and I would love to just sit and hold you all day and read to you, but sometimes I need to pee. And you know what, when you ask me for something to eat I can’t hug you and make food at the same time. I’ve tried but it’s just not possible. I know you are tired and I know you feel sad and insecure sometimes, that’s why my every free moment has been spent with you and the house is a disaster and the laundry still needs doing. You matter more to me than these things. Have you noticed yet that I give you hugs all the time except when you shriek and pull and yell and have a tantrum over them? Have you noticed that as soon as you calm down I am there to hold, and to listen? Have you noticed that when you stop your screaming to listen to me I often have a satisfactory solution to the dilemma that saves you from all of that crying?
I know it’s hard when your brother is bossy. And he is a lot lately, something I’m trying to help him to stop. I know it irritates you when he talks to you in his superior 5-year-old voice and tells you that you’re wrong. I’m actually impressed with how much patience you have for him, the way he tells you what to do when you’re playing together, the way he just stands in your way and makes it hard to do something, or tells you how to do it, or takes over completely. It’s interesting that he’s started to tell you to hurry up or we will leave without you, which isn’t true by the way, and I don’t know where he got it because I don’t remember ever saying that. Sometimes though it makes you downright angry to have him pestering you, and I don’t blame you. I’d like to punch him sometimes myself, but that doesn’t mean I do, and that doesn’t mean I’m going to let you get away with it either. Though privately I think it would help him learn to not be like that if he got hit a few more times. I’m not going to let you become one of those people who think that violence is an okay choice if you are provoked enough. So he will have to learn a different way.
It makes me really happy that you genuinely love your sister, and that even though you have regressed a bit and become more clingy and needy you don’t consider any of it her fault at all. I like the way you are the first to tell me that she’s awake and demand that I go to pick her up. I like that way I catch you smiling at her when she’s looking at you. I like the way you always want to see her, to look at her and to touch her. I’m sorry for the times when I have spoken a little too sharply to you when you get carried away in your exuberant interactions with her. I know you don’t mean any harm, but she’s very tiny and I get nervous. Sometimes I have to stop you in order to protect her. But I have been overly severe once or twice and I apologize for that. More often than not I’m grateful for you and your attention to her because it keeps her happy for a while longer while I get some things done.
It’s hard for you in the mornings when I am teaching your brother school, you want all of my attention there too. I’m hoping exclusive use of play dough will help you while I explain vowels to him. It’s hard for both of you when I don’t let you talk at once, and I make you say excuse me, and wait your turn to talk. You would talk all day long if I let you and you have so much you want to say. But I can’t properly hear anything you say if you try to yell over you brother. I know it’s challenging, and I want you to know you are doing an excellent job.
I just wanted to tell you that I know this is a difficult transition for you, and I think you are handling it really well. I love you. I love to snuggle with you in the afternoon; my hearts melts when you smile into my eyes and give me kisses. I am captivated by your freckles and your cute little nose. I want to keep you forever close to me as you are now, even as I try to help you to grow up. We will both get through this, and we’ll be stronger because of it. I promise.