Saturday October 25, 2003 11:14 PM
Sibling Class

Tuesday night was Isaiah's sibling class. It's a free hour and a half class offered by the hospital where Isaiah was born (and where his little brother will be born in about seven weeks) for kids who have a parent who'll soon be giving birth.

Isaiah's excitement about being a big brother wavers back and forth depending on the mood he's in, but it's generally positive. His excitement about the sibling class has also been wavering in a similar manner. Sometimes we'd mention it and he'd express vehement opposition to his attendance, other times when we spoke of it he wanted to go that night. His moods in general have been unpredictable lately. I think it's due partly to his age and that it has some to do with the fast approaching life-changing addition to our family.

Not knowing what his reaction to having to actually finally go to the class might be, I suggested to Ruth Tuesday afternoon that she mention to him that if he was very good at the class that night we could go out to dinner afterwards at his favorite Mexican restaurant. She replied that his attitude towards the class was good, but that she'd mention the extra incentive.

As we got into the van to go to the class I asked Isaiah if his mother had told him what we might do if he was good.

"Yes," he said, "after the class, if I'm good, we'll have supper at El Mezcal and then come home and put together the new robot I got the other day!"

"Uh, Ruth, did you say anything about the robot or is he improvising?"

"He's improvising."

"Well," I replied, "If you are good at the class, we'll go to the restaurant and if you are very good at both places maybe we'll start the robot but I doubt we'll get it done tonight."

The incentive was working as we showed up for the class in the same room Ruth and I had Lamaze class over four years ago. He was happy and behaving well as we waited for the other parents and kids to arrive. As it turned out there were two other families. A mother and her four year old son, and a mother and father with their seven year old daughter.

The teacher spoke for a while about various topics to the kids and then we watched a video. The video was rather amusing. Judging from the music and the clothing and hair styles, it appeared to have been made sometime in the early nineteen eighties. Furthermore, it also appeared to have been produced with a consumer video camera in the actual homes of the four families on the tape. The dead giveaway to the second was the black lines of mildew apparent in the grout between the tiles on the wall of the bathroom in which a brother was helping give the new baby a bath.

After the video the teacher asked if there were any questions about it. I raised my hand and asked how old ithe video cassette was. This elicited a polite chuckle from all the adults present.

As soon as she'd determined that my clowning was the only question, the class divided in two. The kids went to the far back part of the room where another nurse gave each child a doll and taught them how to diaper and wrap a baby in a blanket. As our nurse went through her routine we could hear the kids in the background from time to time. At one point in the routine, our nurse paused and we plainly heard Isaiah make some amusing, but sadly now-forgotten, comment to his teacher and I noted that if you can hear one of the kids from twenty feet away it will probably be Isaiah.

When the youngsters' lesson was over, the class recombined in preparation for a tour of the obstetrics ward. The nurse who'd taught the kids mentioned that Isaiah had said he was being extra good so that we could go out to eat afterwards. She asked him where we were going and he said 'El Mezcal'. She thought that was odd since he'd been telling her about won-ton and fortune cookies.

As we were getting ready to go up, the other two kids had put on the surgery-scrub hats and face masks that had come in the goody bags handed out at the beginning of class. Of course, then, Isaiah wanted his on too so I put the hat on his head and let Ruth tie the mask on. Then all the children decided that they wanted to carry 'their' babies up to the OB ward with them. I wished I had brought my camera to capture an image of Isaiah walking down the hall to the elevator with his 'doctor outfit' on and 'his' baby in his arms.

Upstairs we got to see the very room Isaiah had been born in. I don't know if he was impressed, but I know he was interested in the electronic monitoring equipment I had to tell him not to touch. It was interesting to be back in the same room with him again. The first time he was in that room was the first time he'd breathed air. Now, four years later, we were there together again and he was not only breathing, but walking and talking. Perhaps in a few weeks his brother will be born in the same room. I think that would be kind of neat.

He was very good for the whole class and afterward as promised we went to the restaurant. He was OK but not very good at the restaurant, though, so we didn't work on the robot.

I guess he must have enjoyed the class and paid attention. The next day Ruth told me that he was telling her mother about how he learned to diaper a baby and how to 'swaddle'. She also said that later in the day he wanted her to get out a baby doll so that he could show her he knew how to do it. Ruth said he promptly named the doll Kyle after his friend at preschool and did a marvelous job of diapering and swaddling it.

Hopefully he won't haul his brother around by the arm and throw him on the chair when he's done with him...