Matthew started hitting Scarlett.
And if it were out of sheer frustration, or plain curiosity, I’d be almost unconcerned. He’s three and he’s impatient, and she’s one and likes to lick people. Disagreements are bound to ensue. Mary and Matthew were born seven years apart and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the innumerable amount of things even they’ve learned to fight over, it’s that no two children are immune to sibling rivalry. But this, he was doing it in secret, and then lying to me about.
Secrecy is something we take very seriously around here, especially given Mary’s history with her biological mom of mental abuse and abandonment. Lying is practically a federal offense. But there was a bigger issue at hand here. I think he might sincerely resent his sister.
In fact, to assume that he wouldn’t at least a little, almost seems naïve. Even I struggled to understand how leaving Matthew with my parents so that I could stay with Scarlett in the hospital didn’t translate into Your Sister Is More Important To Me Right Now Than You Are.
Today, he cozied himself up between cushions on the couch with his older sister’s video game - a contraption he knows damn well he is not allowed to play. (Video games are one of the very few things I intend to be practically militant about keeping away from my boys for as long as I can, but because he has an eleven year old sister, he knows what they are. Once in a while, he’ll try his luck with picking one up and just hoping I won’t notice.) Today when he did it, instead of taking it away from him, I decided just to sit down at the end of the couch, and watch him. I placed my hand on his knee. I combed his hair to one side with my fingers. And I told him that I was sorry for leaving him for such a long time.
He didn’t react right away, but I could tell that he was thinking about what I said. “It’s Okay.” He peeked up from the hand-held screen, which I did not expect.
-- You were gone for a really long time, he said.
-- I know. I decided to be with Scarlett while the doctors made her sickness go away. The hospital can be a pretty scary place for a little girl if she is all alone.
His eyes were back on the screen.
-- Well. You could’ve just left her there so the doctor could fix her. And then got me. And then went back to the hos’cabal.
-- I wanted to. I missed you a lot.
We were quiet for a minute. His eyes never came back up.
-- I wasn’t scared, though. At mom-mom and pop-pop’s house. I had fun. I had ice cream.
-- I know. I made sure that Mary stayed with you too, and that mom-mom and pop-pop brought you to visit us a whole lot.
-- Scarly wasn’t scared when you were there?
-- She felt much, much better because I was there. Some babies couldn’t have their Mommas with them.
-- Were they scared?
-- Yes. They were scared. So I read stories to them and the nurses held them until their Mommas could be with them again.
-- You’re a good Momma.
-- You’re the best son. And a good big brother too. You let your sister have me when she needed me. That was very brave.
-- Hey, Momma?
-- Yes, baby?
-- Can you get out of my way? I’m tryin’ to play my video game here.
I took the video game, and I left. And he let me.