A young friend of mine recently had a new baby, and I was reminded if the age old tradition of the shower. Women through the years have helped brides-to-be and soon to be moms prepare for the upcoming event for some time now. The bridal shower got it’s start in 1890, and is mostly a tradition held in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The baby shower was one that transitioned from the purification rituals that used to occur back when women had to remain in seclusion for 14 days after giving birth, to the naming and baptismal ceremonies, and finally to what they are today, which is more of a way to welcome the new baby with gifts that are necessary for caring for the child. Personally, I like them more for what they are today, as I’m sure most people would agree. These days, the showers just as often include the husband-to-be or the new daddy, in what used to be a pretty much exclusively female party.
One tradition, when it comes to showers, that people either like a lot, or completely dislike is the traditional shower games. We have all been to showers where you tried to name the new baby, diaper a balloon, remember the kitchen utensils on a tray, or give marriage advise to the young couple. Not everyone likes to play these things, and having been to showers of both types, I really have to say that I like both. I think it is simply a matter of taste…and maybe of well thought out games. In the years that I have been attending showers, I have played just about every possible game, and I must say that there have been a few that were great. I personally liked the diapering the balloon, the name game, and the balloon under the shirt game. That one was actually played for the first time…by me anyway, at my niece, Ashley Parmely’s baby shower, and it was hilarious. Of course, as the mother-to-be, Ashley won. The point was to see who could have the biggest belly. Technically, Ashley had a distinct advantage over the rest of us…she had the balloon belly, and the Reagan belly. The rest of us didn’t stand a chance, but it was fun to try to get a belly that was bigger than hers.
Some of the funniest shower games are those played with a blindfold on…like the one above, in which my sister-in-law Jennifer Parmely was trying to scoop all the cotton balls into a bowl, without being able to see them. They are so light that you really don’t know if you have anything on there or not, and since you can’t use your other hand to assist in the process, you find yourself being less than successful. And since it seems that there are always a few little ones in the group, the laughter can get going pretty easily. My brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg found his sister’s attempts quite hilarious indeed. It’s all intended to break the ice among friends of the honoree, who may not know each other, as well as adding a little bit of laughter and fun to the whole occasion. So the next time you go to a shower, and find that games will be played, try taking a lighter view of it. You might find yourself having a great time, even if you don’t usually like to play those silly shower games.
Big sisters are a very unique type of person, especially when they are the oldest child. They have gone from being the only child to being a little mommy’s helper in the care of their new little sibling. They are usually young enough to have it in their head that this is their baby, so don’t even tell them that they can’t be the mommy! They don’t like it when you don’t let them be the caregiver of this new baby. Of course, as with any job, they know that there are some things that should be handled by the nanny (ie, Mommy)…like stinky diapers!! Mom is totally welcome to step in at that moment. And if this kid decides to scream, and a bottle won’t fix it, well, call in the nanny. Nanny/Mommy is good for some things, but not when the big sister is in charge. They are for when big sister needs a babysitter for the baby, and nothing more. It is almost as if Mommy is really a surrogate mommy.
While big sisters can be in the way for moms sometimes, it is also very sweet to watch there first attempts at mothering. Girls have a built in mother’s instinct, in most cases, and it comes out in them very early on. From the moment they hold their first doll, they are a mommy in their own mind. Of course, maybe that doll is the reason that they don’t care much for stinky diapers or screaming babies. I mean, that doll was just so much better behaved than that, right? Nevertheless, it doesn’t take long for them to realize that this new baby is a bit different than that baby doll they had, but as they get used to the new baby, they instinctively understand that crying and the smell is just a part of the deal with a younger sibling, so as long as Mommy or somebody else shows up for the tough times, the responsibilities of a big sister are not so bad.
Unfortunately, as the baby gets older, the newness also wears off some, and before the baby is old enpugh to play or walk, the older sister might get tired of helping out. It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes it does. If it happens, it is usually a short period of time, because before too long, the baby is old enough to play with its older sister, and then the fun really begins. With an older sister teaching the younger sibling the ropes, there is no telling what kind of trouble they can manage to get into. In fact, if you think about it, you can probably come up with a whole list of ways you got into trouble with your big sister’s help, or maybe for you it was a big brother, but that is another story.