Now We Are Five

It’s been a little over a month since we brought our third baby home.
A handful of weeks of figuring out schedules, rummaging through boxes to find baby gear, and coming to terms with the new and frighteningly high volume of laundry that three small children bring.
The hubs and I have been trading each other off for everything from cooking to diaper duty to school runs. It’s amazing what you can accomplish one-handed and sleep-deprived when you have to. Somewhere between the onset of the witching hour and the third cry for a late-night glass of water we share a look of “what have we done?!”. But mostly the muscle memory has kicked in and from the dark recesses of the grey mush that used to be our brains, we remember how this goes: quickly.
Perhaps most surprisingly, the former baby of the family, our almost-three year old is thrilled with his new baby brother. He wants to hold him and rock his carrier whenever he can. He also wants to feed him his snacks, so while we are praising his generosity, we also have to find new ways to place limits on their brotherly affection.
Our five year old is also demonstrably affectionate with his newest baby brother. He generally appears pleased with the new order of things, remarking “now we are five” in the same matter-of-fact way as he explains the relative merits of Batman versus Captain America.  But his higher-level reasoning skills mean that he has also sensed the situation may be exploited to his advantage. Extra time spent playing with his beloved Legos, his choices of movies and even, joy of joys, the much-coveted snack of personal popcorn bowls can now be enjoyed more readily because these all result in smiles that assuage parental guilt. He even went for gold with a request for games on mummy’s phone, but discovered to his chagrin that: a) there’s still a limit to how much he will be indulged, and b) far from being distracted by the baby, mummy constantly uses her phone for jotting down the million and one things she has to do in her calendar … which of course she usually forgets to check.
The three amigos, two with face paint just because
The corgis also appear rather sweetly disposed to the new arrival. They cluster around the baby during feedings, blinking into the filtered sunlight of the nursery and enjoying toe-scruggles.  They also watch with mild concern during diaper changes or the other incidents – gas, sudden noises, changes in wind direction? – that provoke crying spells. After three babies they still don’t quite trust us to get it right: if only they had opposable thumbs.
The only one who isn’t adjusting particularly well is the puppy. At ten months old, he’s rapidly outgrowing his “puppy” status, being already 75 lbs of wiggly muscle and goof-ball determination.
But he’s suddenly aware that something else is being fed and cuddled.
That something else has a series of toys that he is not allowed.
That something else also gets to sleep near the parents in the spot he once occupied as a small pup.
And he is decidedly not happy about this turn of events.
Me and the fur baby
He has chosen to express his disdain by crying loudly whenever we are out of his range of vision whilst tending to the baby. He has also taken to sneaking used burp-cloths from counters and sucking at them in the manner of a large, hairy, and existentially disconsolate toddler.
For a few weeks we were at a loss: how could we manage two small boys, a baby, two elderly corgis and an energetic puppy?
The puppy can only be expected to play by himself in the garden for so long before he whines to come inside or finds himself in compromising situations involving territorial squirrels who pelt him with fir cones.
But neither can he be trusted to play with the corgis without stepping on them – a violation of doggy decorum they take as a grievous personal affront and which results in a mêlée of fur, teeth and claws.
Nor can the early-Spring Canadian weather be trusted not to pitch a toddler-style tantrum and dump six inches of snow on our heads. The ensuing slipperiness precludes my previous ability to de-bounce the puppy by walking him at length as its not safe to do so with the baby in tow.
As we worried aloud to friends and family about the increasingly tense situation at home, it was suggested to us that a doggy daycare a few days a week might offer a solution to the puppy angst by providing him both exercise and entertainment.
Would sending him away feel like a punishment, I wondered? A further insult to the injury of being replaced as family “baby”?
I was hesitant, but in the absence of other viable options, we booked him in for a trial.
I expected crying and refusal to enter the building (can you tell I’ve been around pre-schoolers for a while?).
But he bounded in as though he was already an old hand and made fast friends with a couple of equally rambunctious larger puppies. By the end of the day he was exhausted from playing, and the happiest I’d seen him in several weeks.
Now, on his twice weekly visits, he barks a welcome as soon as he arrives, lunging into the building to meet his new doggy friends.
The only issue? Having seen how happy their puppy is at daycare, now the three and five year old are asking to go as well!
Post doggy daycare happy- exhaustion

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