Kids! Come here—it's important," my husband calls. Henry, 6, and Eleanor, 4, clamber onto the sofa, looking vaguely worried that some long-forgotten transgression has just been discovered. Spilled juice behind the cushions? Yet another unflushed toilet? Margaret, almost 2, obliviously sucks her thumb.
"Guess what! Mommy has some big news to tell you," Daddy continues.
Everyone leans forward, but before I can say a word, Eleanor speaks up, eagerly: "Is Henry moving out?"
So much for sibling revelry.
There I was, excited to tell my daughter she'd be gaining a new brother or sister in a matter of months, and there she was, hoping to ditch one.
I immediately thought back to when we told our beloved firstborn—the light of our lives—that he was about to become a big brother. "You got a ball in there for me?" Henry, then 20 months, had asked, peering under my shirt. Saying no, I'd felt like a traitor. A friend once told her daughter that come Christmas, she'd be getting "a new, teeny-tiny baby." The toddler looked her square in the eye and said, "No thanks. How about a new, teeny-tiny puppy instead?"