Buster is going to be 3 years old next week. In the last few months, we've seen huge changes in him. Among other things, he's potty trained, sleeps in a toddler bed, dresses & undresses himself & plays independently for much longer stretches of time. He's definitely completed the transition from "baby/toddler" to "kid". We're really proud of him.
However, it's also brought up a whole new set of issues we're not quite sure how to handle.
Buster is able to do lots of things now that Buddy can't and we suddenly find ourselves struggling with two different sets of rules and expectations for the boys. That's not the easiest thing to do when your kids are 15 months apart and you expect more of your youngest than you do of your oldest.
I want Buster to know that it's a good thing that we trust him to be more independent and self-sufficient. I want him to feel proud when he gets dressed by himself in the morning and falls asleep in his own bed at night. I know he does feel that way when he accomplishes something new, but inevitably that moment comes when taking off his shoes and putting them away becomes less of a thrill and more of a chore. That's when things get tricky because he doesn't understand why I expect him to do something that I'm willing to help Buddy do.
I truly believe that we'd be doing Buster a huge disservice if we lower our expectations and didn't encourage him to live up to his full potential, but I also know he's way too young to understand that. I've tried explaining to Buster a few times that sometimes it takes Buddy longer to learn something than it takes him and that's why I have to help Buddy with things he can do by himself, but Buster just doesn't get it. All he sees, for example, is Buddy getting to sleep in our bed while he's alone in his room. Even though I know we can't hold Buster back just because Buddy's skills are delayed, it still breaks my heart when Buster begs to sleep with me like Buddy does or stomps his feet in frustration because I don't always give him the same amount of hands-on help his brother gets.
I don't want Buster to grow up feeling that we treated him unfairly, pushed him too hard or loved him any less than his brother. I make sure to celebrate his accomplishments, praise his good behavior and smother him with kisses & "I love yous". I know though, in Buster's almost 3 year old mind, our words don't outweigh our actions right now. I know he's felt slighted, frustrated and confused and I hate that. Unfortunately, I just don't think there's any way around it right now.