He's not Levy, he's my brother / by Susie Lubell

They say that having kids close together in age is painful for the parents but great for the kids. The jury is still out on that one but I can say for sure that it is exhausting to constantly be engaging one and holding the other. And I am the queen of multi-tasking. I can turn on the DVD, tie a shoe and hold a reasonably coherent phone conversation all at once. But nursing my baby while supervising my toddler on the potty is frankly unpleasant. For everyone.

Now that baby is five months old and toddler is approaching three years, I've noticed a change in their relationship. They actually play together. I had to send a quick email the other day so I put the baby down on her play gym and asked my son to "watch" her while I did some work on the computer. Within a minute, he's laughing because she's rolled under the crib and she's giggling because he's laughing. And then I'm laughing. And suddenly it's such a pleasure to be with them together.

I remember that while I was in the hospital after my daughter was born and my son had been to visit once and left sobbing because he saw a nurse take my blood pressure, I wondered how he would ever adapt to this new member of our family. And my midwife said, "in two months he won't remember there was life before his sister." And it's true. It's as if she's always been here. Plying him with candy also helped the transition.

But besides being a big help to me to have my son occupy my daughter for ten minute spurts here and there, he is better than any teething toy or pacifier for calming my daughter. She's really an easy baby but she hates to be in the car. So my son has taken to singing to her to calm her. If I sing she continues to cry. If he sings she stares at him and grins. When he comes in the room, she stops nursing (by far her most favorite activity) to watch him.

And I wish I could take credit for their delightful rapport, but it was none of my doing. They have a natural affinity for which I am grateful.

Now, if only my son could nurse by daughter while sitting on the potty - take me out of the equation altogether - now THAT would be something.