“I found out today that the baby will be a boy. How do you feel about that?” I ask both of them, but I’m looking at Sophie.
Sophie’s thrilled. “I feel great. I always wanted a brother, especially a teenage brother.”
“He’s going to be a baby, not a teenager.” The default position of motherhood is hope-dasher/porter and splasher of buckets of cold water.
“I know,” she says, “I’m just saying a teenage brother would be perfect. But a baby brother is good too. I’m so excited!”
“Lola, how do you feel about us having a baby boy?” This is quicksand. I can predict the contents of her reaction but not the precise details of her reply. But I know it will be…remarkable.
Lola sighs elaborately. “I really wished we’d get a cat.”
Of course she does. This is going better than I expected. “But we’re having a baby, not a cat. And F and and I are thinking his name will be Theo. What do you think about that?”
“Theo rhymes with Cleo. How about Cleo?” Lola offers.
“We had a cat named Cleo before you were born, Lola.” Sophie says, helpfully/unhelpfully.
“We’re not naming your brother after a cat,” I say. I’m quite firm about this.
“Then how about Leo?” Lola asks.
Again with the hope-dashing. Mama, thy name is pessimist. “The baby. Is not. A cat.”
Lola has since reconciled herself, delightfully and with great anticipation, to the species of baby that will soon populate our home and our lives. Now she greets people not with “Hello!” but with “My mommy has a baby in her tummy and it’s a BOY!”