When we planned to add a second child to our family I knew that there would be some jealousy. Our happy little four year old had been the high prince of this castle for three years, reigning over us, his lowly parents. I expected the jealousy over sharing toys and bedtimes. I expected my older son to want to hang off me every moment I was holding our new little guy. I read up on how to introduce the new child to the family. I was prepared to have special "mommy and matthew time" so our older son would be assured to still get one on one quality time with me. I helped Matthew sort his toys and encouraged him to set aside a few special toys that he wouldn't have to share with his new little brother. We explained to Matthew that he would be getting a new, later bedtime when his brother came home, so that he could stay up a little longer than "the baby". I really thought I had it all under control. And everything I expected happened, right on schedule. Normal sibling rivalry. A thousand times a day in my world my son can be heard stating "I can do _________(fill in the blank with some sort of childhood activity, such as eating Popsicles or riding bikes.), because I am the big brother. Alex can't do it because he is a baby." Literally, a thousand, times. a. day.
Some jealousy is tolerated, some is nipped in the bud. It is all understood. And it was all expected.
But recently a type of jealousy I did not expect has started popping up. A type of jealousy that could only occur in a family brought together by international adoption. And it all starts with a geography question.
"Mommy, are there more people living in China than in Russia?"
"Mommy, are the toys better in China than in Russia?"
"Mommy, were my nannies better than Alex's?"
"Mommy, I bet the subway in Russia is not as good as the one we rode in China." (He cannot possibly remember riding the subway in China but he loves subways and so has heard the story of his very first subway ride numerous times.)
"Mommy, is the candy in China better than in Russia?"
"Mommy, is the food better in China than in Russia?"
And the questions go on and on and on. And on. And they get more in depth the deeper we go into the conversation. I actually had to hop on the computer the other day to look up the population of the birth countries of my sons. I would imagine that other mothers of four year olds do not need to memorize the population of large foreign countries just to appease their child.
Because of my little doodlebug I have learned so much. I know all about dragon boat races and the Autumn Moon Festival. I know why it is so important to clean the entire house before the Chinese New Year. I know how to say a fair number of words in Mandarin. I can eat with chopsticks, albeit not always gracefully. I can cook a mean stir fry and I know what spices make up the amazing Chinese five spice combo. Because of my oldest son I can say I have ridden a subway in Guangzhou, (very clean!) I know how the hamburgers taste in the Hong Kong airport (like American hamburgers!), and I know the joys of squeaky baby shoes, (so cute but somewhat noisy!). And now I am starting to learn facts and geography about my oldest son's birth country.
As my younger sons grows I am sure I will be looking up facts about his birth country as well. And I know that I will be gathering tidbits of knowledge about Russia as we grow as a family. I also know that I will be answering questions about China and Russia for years to come and, quite possibly, breaking up fights between my boys as to whose heritage is better. Other moms get to referee tussles over toys and girls. I get to memorize demographics and geography. sigh.... OK, so no one tell Matthew that Russia is the largest country in the world. Shhhhhhh......