So far, since the people asking are people who know us relatively well, I've been giving a fairly detailed but open-ended answer. Well, we've told him, but he's not that verbal so it's really hard to tell how much he understands. [pause for a beat or two] Besides, _we_ know we're going to be surprised, so the whole idea that he could possible be prepared for this seems a bit unlikely, right?
This usually gets a chuckle and a isn't-that-the-truth (which is the goal), but not always. There's a certain contingent out there that talks about classes and/or books for older siblings. This has me scratching my head. I mean, he just turned 3. If you tell him you're going for a ride in the car in a couple hours, he goes out to the car _now_ and gets pissy if you aren't ready to leave. The future, as a concept, may be present in that adorable little head, but I can't seem to connect with it yet.
I asked R. what he remembered, since he's the oldest of four. I only have one younger sister, and she's a 1 year and 10 months after me, so (to me, obviously) I have no recollection of her not being around. I _do_ have vague recollections of her being too young to play with, but that could have been when she was as old as two -- who knows? But R.'s youngest sibling -- a brother -- is 9 years younger. Surely he remembers C.'s last pregnancy. Right?
Nope. He remembers his parents going to the hospital and coming home with J. But unless my husband is lying to me, that's pretty much the whole story.
What the heck to do with 4 pages of advice along these lines?
T. _has_ been coming to prenatals with me, altho NOT to the one time I had a sonogram because they were absolutely clear that they did not want other children present at the genetics counseling/ultrasound/amnio appointment. And that was the only sonogram. T. is usually nursing (or trying to nurse) when I lay down at the birth center to be measured, doptoned etc. He finds the tape measure vastly entertaining, my belly button is a constant source of amusement, and when he gets ahold of the lube he cackles with glee. Does he have any mortal clue when I tell him there's a baby in there, his sister, her name, that he shouldn't hit or press on my belly?
We don't _have_ a nursery, so all that crap is irrelevant. We did get a new futon on the floor (a twin) complete with Backyardigans sheets etc. I cannot even begin to imagine having T. pick out sheets ordered online. That just seems drastically unlikely. His primary interest in my laptop his pressing the power button, altho there are a couple of buttons on the side and where the charger plugs in that are almost as entertaining.
But easily the most daunting aspect of this advice is here:
"Instill in your children, especially toddlers, that babies are not like dolls – their moods are like a seesaw, one minute they are content, the next fussy and temperamental."
Are you shitting me? They are _seriously_ expecting me to discuss with my toddler the emotional lability of an as-yet-unborn third party? I have yet to connect with T. on the subject of _his_ moods, _MY_ moods or his papa's moods. And this is not for lack of trying. We all get the idea of owie. I _think_ we all understand tired. We may understand hungry and thirsty, at least operationally. I've labeled like crazy all along (you seem sad, you are angry, etc.). No indication that any of this is getting through at all. I figured things were going great because finally, today, he pointed and tracked and verbally labeled _all at once_. And _that_ involved something really easy to understand: his papa returning to the van at the transfer station.
On one level, I'm inclined to point to his papa as a data point: see? _He_ didn't notice when he was _9_. Trying to get through to his 3 year old offspring is a pointless waste of time. You could take it further; attempting to discuss subtleties of mood with R. is often a dodgy proposition. But I can't help but wonder. Are there _any_ toddlers that this works with? _Who_?
I'd love to hear all your tales of your precociously emotionally intelligent young 'uns. And how old they were when you could reasonably expect them to understand someone else's instability of mood. Particularly a someone who hadn't been born yet.
Oh, and this is all complicated by the fact that T. won't play with stuffed animals, puppets, dolls, etc. It's not that we don't have them. It's just that he's completely uninterested. Well, not completely. There's a thing I do with the cow puppet that can make him fall over he laughs so hard. It involves attacking him with cow-kisses, backing off, and then throwing the cow puppet at his head while saying, "MOOOOO!" quite loudly. He'll bring the cow puppet back for more, sometimes for fifteen minutes at a time. But you can play a similar game with a pillow or a very light ball, without the kisses or the mooing, just by throwing things at his head.
ETA: Only light, non-dangerous things. We're not _that_ crazy around here.
ETA2: I'm thinking these people are just dealing with a different species of toddler from T.
We got T. a drinks-and-pees anatomically "correct" boy doll a long time ago. He has on-and-off played with the doll, mostly to explore aspects of the doll that we strenuously objected to him doing to us (opening and closing our eyelids, for example). We figured this was a plausible use for the toy. Reversing that now seems, um, nuts. Yeah, I'll go with nuts. *sigh* I guess the good news is that T. _does_ understand the word gentle, altho he often is perfectly happy to defy that as a directive.
ETA3: Yeah, the site is crap. Here's yet another effort:
This one starts strong, but you can tell it's not going to work for me with the cosleeping, bf-ing mother is weaning her one year old when she's pregnant with the second. I don't have it that together, or I wouldn't still be nursing a 3 year old while pregnant with the second. I would not be observing his predictable 2 a.m. switch from his new bed to the old bed I'm sleeping in. He doesn't even seem to wake up fully to make this switch -- but it happens at the same time to within fifteen minutes. Amazing how fast that pattern set up; suggests that breaking it is going to be all but impossible. Things really go downhill in this article when the bottles show up and the toddler is helped to feed a doll, preparatory to helping with the infant. Yeah, that's going to happen. And then, the fucking sibling classes are mentioned once again. I particularly liked this bit tho:
"Finally, when the big day comes, try not to leave without saying "goodbye," says Dr. Noll. "Even if Mom has to leave in the middle of the night, it's better to let the child know what is going on, that you're OK and that you'll be home soon," she says."
_That'd_ definitely be a winner. Not. Odds on, he'll be coming with us to the birth center while we frantically call 'round to find someone to meet us there and take him elsewhere, either back home or to their house or whatever, depending on which person in the call tree is available when. But if in some perfect world, that someone arrives before we depart, I'm not freaking waking that kid up. Dude. That is insane.
ETA4: There are a many, many more articles on that topic at that website. In addition to the strange and incomprehensible advice, they consistently warn about regression and aggression, which makes me kind of suspicious. What the hell good is all this preparation doing, if you get the same outcome anyway? I'm thinking this is cargo-cultism. With few exceptions, all the good parents I know, whether they prepped their kids or not, had to deal with a certain amount of jealousy/acting out/whatever when the new baby showed up and monopolized one or both parents' time and energy. What's the point?