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Competition

I was a little nervous as we pulled into the parking space. We were visiting my cousin and his wife who were the proud parents of a new baby girl, Suri, their first child. Excited as I was about meeting the new arrival, I was also intrigued about how my two little ones would react to the competition. How would they cope with their Mummy and Daddy cooing over another little baby?

Some friends of ours with slightly older toddlers have an awful time with the green-eyed monster. Their children won’t let them pick up another child without breaking out into overacting histrionics that would embarrass the cast of Hispanic daytime soap. Similarly, my children sometimes make a point of giving me a huge, possessive hug when I pick them up from nursery or school and pointedly saying, “My Daddy!” if any of the other children come to close.

However, the most touching moment of possessiveness came shortly after Meri was born. A couple of weeks after we had returned from hospital, Clare, Arun, Meri and I were in our bed one Saturday morning. Clare had just finished feeding Meri and I had been playing with and holding Arun. Clare put Meri down next to her and I decided that I would like a little cuddle with my lovely new daughter.

As I reached across to pick Meri up I caught a glimpse on Arun out of the corner of my eye. He was watching agog. First, his eyes widened, then in slow motion his jaw dropped and finally the little corners of his mouth fell. His face fell into a tragic expression of shocked despair as silent tears rolled down his cheeks.

“She’s already stolen Mummy and now she’s stealing him too,” I could almost hear him think, “I am lost!”

My heart broke. I handed Meri back to Clare and we both gave Arun a huge hug and reminded him that we had enough love to go around for everyone.

So, how did the meeting with little baby Suri go? I needn’t have worried. Meri was particularly taken with her – she held her new little cousin and even sang her a song or two whilst beaming away. Even Arun came over, inspected the new arrival and gave her a reassuring and loving pat which is praise indeed from an autistic four year old boy. They both seemed quite excited at the idea of a new little playmate and Meri will be delighted because she has someone smaller than her she can boss around now (as opposed to people bigger than her to boss around).

The encounter gave me cause to reflect. Looking back on Arun’s reaction to me showing Meri some real affection, I realise now that the little bugger got one over on me. He used every weapon in his armoury to win some attention and it worked. In my defence I’d just like to point out that it’s not my fault that I was taken in like a gullible fool. I can’t help it, it’s in my genes, I’m programmed to react that way. Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

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