A Boy and His Baby Sister, Through the Chaos

It’s been kind of a rough parenting week. The baby, at 15 months old, is teething (again) and we think has been carrying a stomach bug, which my wife and I now carry for her. You’re welcome, sweetheart! Halloween turned into something of a bust…okay, I’m being generous, it was an outright disaster. My wife and I enthusiastically costumed ourselves and the kids to do some trick-or-treating at my wife’s huge, artsy, gorgeous office (it’s a super-hip ad agency in Portland, Maine that used to be a library), at which both kids showed zero tolerance for interaction, locomotion, abstinence from binge candy eating, and just about everything else, and a series of tantrums and meltdowns ensued — especially from the boy, who will be 4 this month. Other attempts to bring the boy some joy from activities or outings have gone nearly as poorly.

In other words, there’s been a lot of sickness, screaming, whining, arguing, and general tense conflict between the four Fidalgos this week.

But look at the picture below. That’s the boy watching over his sister at his daycare class’s playground today. Before we all left for the day, I let him and his sister mess around for a bit, together, which they don’t usually get to do at daycare, being assigned to different classes based on age groups. My son was amazing. He led her around carefully, warned off his friends from getting too close or too aggressive around her, helped her onto the big wooden play-firetruck where they sat together, and just kept checking in with her. “Are you okay?” “Is this fun?” “Good job!”

He proudly took responsibility for her safety and happiness while she was a guest on his turf.

It was wonderful, and I was bursting with pride. It was an important reminder that despite the chaos and madness of recent weeks, our family has a strong heart at its core. For all my and my wife’s doubts about how we handle the monumental task of parenting two children, moments like today’s tell me that we are doing at least something right.

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