Parents often paint sibling-hood too romantically or comically, so much that the apparent cuteness tends to conceal its real picture. I am talking here about the reality that stares elder kids in the face, like the one that Kuya Bugey had to come to terms with shortly after Ading came. Sure, he bugged us for a baby brother for months with no end, but I do know that at some point in this hullabaloo over the newcomer, Kuya must have felt that he made a big mistake.
I could tell through that smiling face how much envy was being masked as it watched Ading enjoy mummy's milk, her lullaby, her tickles, her overindulgent attention. As if that was not painful enough, he found that he had to give up so many other things to adjust to the needs of the other being. His gadget time was reduced in proportion to Ading's wake time. His well-loved jumping-on-the-bed was totally banned because of his mindlessness (There was a time when Baby Boo was on the bed when he jumped). Our Friday movie night which we religiously followed is no more, thanks to Ading's sleep schedule. This list can go on.
Lakay and I take this as a chance to teach him a sense of responsibility. You can tell by this often repeated scene how he enthusiastically took on this: Daddy hears Ading crying, so he asks, "Kuya, are you taking care of your ading?" The big brother looks up from his book/ doodle board/ iPad with a mechanically sang "Ading!, " addresses the little imp with the fastest "Peek-a-boo!" on record, then gets back to his business.
We of course know too well that this is just a phase, and that the day will come when Kuya will brace himself up to the challenge of big brotherhood. But it's also heavenly to have sneak previews of that time-to-come, such as this one night, when Mum and Dad couldn't think of a way to keep this strong-willed little urchin fastened into his seat. Lakay threatened my Baby Boo that we would put him in his "cage" (the crib) if he did not keep still. To that the 11-month-old only smiled, naughtily.
Now when Lakay was busily putting Ading in his place, the Kuya said while holding back tears, "I don't want to see Ading being punished. It hurts me. He's my negative one thousandth best friend!"
I turned to Lakay to tip me on this one, and thankfully, he knew how to decode his first-born. "Mum, it means that Ading is more first than the first of his friends, like negative one comes even before zero and one.
"Aaaahhhh!" I said. And then "Auuuuuuuw," I said again.
Sibling-hood may not all be heaven, but perfect lines like this can easily overwrite its hells.