There had been a few “incidents”, nothing really bad, just the odd brotherly shove when he thought no-one was looking, the discrete toy snatch – that sort of thing. It’s not surprising really: If you are the first born then you go from having 100% of your parent’s attention to, at best, 50%. The reality though is it drops a lot further than that, because a newborn requires much more of your time than a toddler. And so a certain amount of regression is inevitable, childhood logic sees the baby’s behaviour and says “so if you do that, you’ll get back their full attention”. Then when that doesn’t work there is a period of resentment which manifests itself in jealousy and chubby fingered spite. I can see why he’s jealous, she’s walking and saying things and generally being big eyed and adorable. Everything she does is cute, she can’t help herself. He’s worried he can’t compete with that. I’d decided it was time for a chat. Kneeling down I placed my hand on his little shoulder and looked him in the eye.
“Son, you’ve got to understand that you are a boy, a boy that will one day turn into a man. There are rules when you are a man. Being a man means that you don’t hurt girls, that’s the most important thing to remember. Treat girls gently and treat your sister the gentlest of all. Protect her. Being a man means you are physically stronger than they are, you might hurt them when you don’t mean to. With great power comes great responsibility son, you understand what this means?”
I looked at him solemnly measuring my words, nodding to himself as if he’d just worked something out, something deep inside had clicked, I hoped that through my words he had recognised the older siblings obligation to wear the shackles of power responsibly.
Maybe he now understood the concept of protecting the weak, of familial duty, of his noble birthright as a man, that righteous pilgrimage to mercy.
He frowned in deep concentration and asked me “Dad, do horses like marmite?”