We recently bit the bullet and told William that he's going to be a big brother. Whew. What a relief to check that off the "to do" list.
It went surprisingly well, too. David told him that a little baby is growing in Mommy's tummy, and in a few more months, we'll have a new baby who will be born and who will belong to our family. And William will get to be the Big Brother. He clapped and said, "Yay!" and proceeded to ask dozens of questions. (Seriously, could he ask any more questions? At one point, he noted that there is no door on Mommy's tummy, and will a doctor have to do surgery on it?) He is pretty convinced it's going to be a Baby Brother, but he will tell you that it could still be a Baby Sister. We'll find out for sure on October 15, so stay tuned on that front.
The thing that has been really wonderful about this has been William's complete embrace of the whole idea. He's made a list of things that he's going to help the baby do (learn to clap, learn to stomp, etc.). He's taken to asking me, in a very serious voice, "What else should we do to get ready for the baby?" And then he will begin ticking off a list of things that we need to buy or procure, the things that he believes we will need. And perhaps most surprisingly, he's been pretty accurate. All on his own, he's determined that the new baby will need a crib, diapers, pajamas, binkies, toys, bottles, and (eventually) baby food. At one point, he ran to the bathroom and dug out some of his own old binkies and volunteered to give them to the baby. (Why do we still have those things, is really the question there.) I told him that it might be better if I took him to the store and let him pick out some new ones, and he readily agreed.
Even better, William has already, completely on his own accord, offered his crib and his old baby gear, like his bouncy seat and swing, for his new baby sibling to use. I acted like it had never occurred to me that we'd use that stuff again and wow, wasn't William so smart and generous to let the new baby have them? He beamed like he'd been given a major award. He's very proud of the fact that he's a big boy now and doesn't need that stuff--and that he can share it with his new baby brother (or sister). I had worried that he might be possessive of those things, since they did belong to him first, but he's been very excited about the prospect of passing them down. I realize that there may still be some reluctance that could crop up when it actually comes time for a new small person to use his old stuff, but at least for now, he's totally on board with it. Since he believes it all to be his Grand Idea, he's very happy to be so magnanimous.
Obviously we're planning on using as many hand-me-downs as possible, but there are some things that really do need to be brand new. A couple of nights ago, I noted that we'd probably need to get the new baby a lovey of some sort, like William's Natty. William immediately volunteered to give his other Natty (we call him Backup Natty, and he lives in the bureau drawer for emergencies) to the new baby. "I already have a Natty," he told me. For some reason, that really touched me. Natty is one of the few things that is fundamentally (and always will be) William's. I bought it for him when he was just a couple of months old, and Natty has gone everywhere with us. The backup has gone to school and on trips, too, just in case something happens to the original. William's not willing to give up his lovey but he is willing to give up the next best thing, which he also really likes, and I think that's kind of cool, coming from a three-year-old. Also, he seems to really care that his new sibling will need a Natty, and who better to meet that need than the Big Brother?
I know, I know, there will definitely be some adjustment in William's future when the new baby is born and comes home to live in William's house forever. But I'm just glad that for now, he's really excited about the whole prospect and isn't worried or anxious. I hope we can encourage that attitude as much as possible.