‘Fidget meets Little Man’ is a post about the addition of Little Man to our little family and our worries about the impact his arrival would have on his big sister, Fidget.

Our firstborn, Fidget, is almost three years older than her brother, Little Man. So when we were expecting Little Man we had many discussions about how we would manage settling a second child into our little family unit. After all, Fidget was our first which meant she had been the centre of our world for almost three years.

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Mum and I decided to work to a parenting plan. How naïve and futile that sounds to me now. But this is what we decided. As Fidget was an out and out daddy’s girl from day one, I would be her partner in crime for the settling in period, whilst mum focussed on Little Man. Obviously, mum wasn’t going to neglect Fidget, and I wasn’t going to neglect Little Man, but with the breast feeding and the fact that Fidget normally wanted daddy for everything, the plan seemed to have legs. Well, right up to the point of Little Man’s arrival at home, that is. Fidget twigged our little plan straight away and she inwardly baulked against mum’s focus on Little Man. Suddenly she wanted mummy for everything. I’m sure a lot of parents know what I mean here. Our plan went west rather abruptly and poor mum was driven mad by Fidget’s attention seeking. This wasn’t helped by the fact that mum spent most of her time plugged into a breast pump.

We tried to deflect Fidget’s attention by getting her to help with Little Man, which worked to a point, but as she had been the centre of our world the change was obviously a little unsettling for her. The upside was that Fidget adored Little Man from minute one, but understandably didn’t comprehend the attention he needed. Our idea that she could play big sister-helper went only so far and only when it suited her needs. She would watch for who was looking after Little Man at any given moment and seek their attention, which became a bit of a distraction for all. But this did not have a chance to go on for long. Little Man became very poorly and was taken into Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and Fidget went to stay with family for a week (see Notes to Little Man: GOSH for full story). This was the first time we had been apart from Fidget and although we had a lot going on with Little Man at the time and our stay at GOSH meant we missed Fidget terribly.

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Nevertheless, Fidget’s coping skills soon amazed us and our family. As mentioned we had never been apart from Fidget, but she took to the change in surroundings like a trooper. Fidget moved in with my sister and her family without a hitch. We spoke with her each day and she asked about Little Man and if he would be better soon. But there was not even a hint of selfishness about her questions, she was truly concerned about her little brother. She missed him and us and wanted Little Man better so that she could take him home.

Our little lady appeared to be standing up well. Yes, she knew my family and got on well with everyone, but they too were amazed about how well she coped with the separation. Obviously, she had no idea of how long it would be for – neither did we, come to that – but she got into a routine with my sister and was really well behaved and helpful. She didn’t withdraw into herself at all. However, when we eventually received the all clear from GOSH and we could take Little Man back to our local hospital for the final 24 hours of his observation before heading home, I went to pick her up.

Our reunion was something I shall never forget. It was 18 months ago and yet it still brings tears to my eyes. Fidget ran into my arms and we held each other so tight for what seemed an age and then she whispered into my ear that she loved me. That moment with Fidget was very special, especially after everything we had been through that week with Little Man. My nerves were still raw with emotion, so the impact of her words will remain with me forever. But that little whisper calmed me and pushed my stress levels way down. She will never truly understand what those words meant to me – what those three little words whispered just for me meant at that moment. She was the remedy I needed.

Little Man GOSH 1Because she was so concerned, I took her straight to the hospital to see her little brother. Fidget was happy we were all back together, so much so she asked for a family hug. Since that time we have had no need to worry, Fidget has accepted her little brother with open arms. She is the big sister any little brother would want, and the best daughter any mum and dad could ask for. What really matters is that, in hindsight, we need not have worried about a settling in period. We ended up being led by the needs of both Fidget and Little Man and apart from the hiccough with Little Man’s health all has gone swimmingly because we have adapted to them as much as they have to us and each other. Mind you, give Fidget her due, her loving character showed itself in bucket loads.

More about Fidget anon …