We had the girls at Target today and experienced an interesting phenomenon. We had just arrived, so L. was safely and snuggly strapped into her car seat in the main part of the cart while her sisters rode along on the back (we had one of those big-assed Target carts with the two seats that face forward behind the “normal” part of the cart. These things are awesome, except when you need to turn them.).

We were stopped at an aisle while S. picked out some toiletries. Another mother approached from the opposite direction and her son was screaming bloody murder. Apparently mom was not doing what he wanted. He appeared to be around two, so it was a classic two-year-old meltdown. When these things happen, I just look away, because I figure the parents are having a hard enough time without thinking everyone is judging them. Plus, I hope if I look away and ignore it, our girls will do the same.

They passed us, and of course the screaming woke L. up. I rushed around and worked to get her out of her seat and into my arms. I heard even louder screaming and looked up to see the tantrum throwing boy lying on the ground, face down, going nuts while his mother walked away.* All of a sudden, I notice that C. is crying. Either the tantrum kid or L. freaked her out. She had a bag of pretzels we brought with us in her hands, and was dropping them all over the place as she cried. So now we’ve got a total of three kids in about a 15 foot space screaming and everyone else is trying to get as far away from us as possible. And then M. started crying. I guess she just felt left out or something. Just freaking great.

S. tells me the mom did try to get him into the cart, which is what he wanted, but he refused so she just walked away and left him.
Fortunately, tantrum boy was removed from our vicinity and our girls calmed down soon enough. Not the way you want to start a trip to Target, though.

Things are still mostly good here. L. sleeps most of the day, although she is having some slightly longer periods of awake time. We tend to have a fussy period or two each night. Monday night was probably our worst night, and that just involved a couple strange meltdowns at 11 and 1:30 from her. We think it was just an upset tummy after a bottle, but she was screaming in a way she’s never screamed before. She seemed normal today, so hopefully we will not be repeating that again (knock on wood).

We have been having some issues with the older sisters. M. is just too wound up when she’s around L.. It’s as though a switch in her brain flips when she gets around the baby and she A) behaves in ways she knows are not acceptable and B) completely tunes S. and I out. S. and I have had some long discussions on how to better handle these moments, as we think our reactions don’t always help a whole lot. So we’re trying to get better, but as the rest of you with multiple kids know, it can be hard to be patient and calm when you have an infant and are sleep-deprived.

C., on the other hand, tends to do really well with L.. She has, in the last couple days, started acting a little more like M. around the baby. But in general she’s more laid-back around her than big sister is. C.’s problem is she’s ramped up the two-year-old behavior in the last couple weeks. I don’t think she’s jealous, as M. acted when she was born. I just think it’s normal stuff – tantrums for no rational reason, being physical with her big sister, being indecisive and then acting out when we don’t follow her little games – that comes with her age. We’ve been through it before (and get to one more time!), but again, we’re not in the ideal state right now to deal.

The real bonus, though, is that the big sisters have been waking up between 6 and 6:30 most mornings lately. We have no idea why, since the sun doesn’t come up in these parts until nearly 8:00. One or both girls will come get in bed with us. L. has usually just had a bottle, so she’s often with us. When M. comes in, she will steadfastly refuse to use a voice other than her outdoor voice. When C. comes in, she’s crying about wanting breakfast. These situations usually devolve into S. tiredly asking them to give her five minutes and she’ll go downstairs with them and me yelling at them both to keep their voices down. I’m not a morning person to begin with, and the breakfast table usually involves at least one meltdown from C. because you give her the wrong drink or too much cereal or something dumb like that. And now we’ve added this. I think I understand why I’ve been having a lot of headaches lately.

More than a few times lately S. and I have wondered how families do this with multiple babies, with more than three kids, or when they’re still having kids in their 40s like her parents did. Don’t get me wrong, things are mostly quite good here and we realize we’re lucky in many, many ways. But I think we were both hoping things would be a hair easier than they have been so far.