People keep asking me if my son, who’s still only 2 years old, knows that he’s getting a sibling. You might as well ask if I’ve explained to him how sex works.
No. Unless it’s something tangible, my son does not understand what you’re talking about (with the exception of feelings and time). Something that will materialize before his eyes in a few months is not something that I can, or should have to, explain.
Do people tell their kids a month ahead of time that they’re getting vaccines? I won’t even tell my son a week ahead of time that he’s getting birthday presents because besides the words ‘yesterday’, ‘today’, and ‘later’, he has no clue how to measure time. Trying to explain to him, who has a limited vocabulary and hasn’t learned the word pregnancy, that he will have a brother after mommy gives birth (another word that is foreign to him), is just plain confusing.
At least when my doctor tells me I’m getting a glucose test in a few weeks, I can ask her what the heck that means and it’s likely I will be able to understand her. Whereas, if my son magically grasps the fact that four months away equals X amount of tomorrows, we still can’t discuss the meaning of a new human in terms that will not boggle his mind. It’s like if someone told me I would be getting a million dollars in four months and didn’t expect me to ask questions about how or why.
Yes, I’ve tried to explain that mommy has a baby in her belly. But after rubbing my stomach, he goes to rub his own and asks if he has a baby in his tummy. This morning he asked my husband about the baby in my husband’s tummy. Sorry, kiddo, that bump is nothing more than a stack of cookies and too many Diet Cokes.
So why is that such a common question to ask a pregnant woman? I’m not sure. When my cousin was pregnant, her niece felt the baby kick and everyone assumed it would make the little girl understand better that there was a baby in there….but, it didn’t. Her niece referred to the unborn fetus as a monster up until the day he was born. She never got near the ‘scary’ belly again either.
I think people forget that kids fill in the blanks whenever they don’t have a solid answer that’s comprehensible to them. And since their imagination is typically much more vivid than ours, the things they come up with can seem shocking but may make sense to them. If I teach my son that he has hands and I have hands then all of a sudden tell him I have a baby where my stomach is then why wouldn’t he assume he does too? And if someone told you to press your face against something and it pushed back against you, wouldn’t you be fearful too?
Yeah, I’ll skip out on trying to confuse my son more. When his brother arrives, he will learn that’s his baby brother because he will be able to see him. Preparing him for the birth will just have to consist of making sure he is secure in the love we have for him and setting up the baby’s room early so he can get used to the physical changes in our home.
For people with kids who were able to understand what it means that mom has a baby in her belly, go you. Your kid must have excellent vocabulary skills and/or possibly be a savant.
Hey, you never know with kids!