By Tali Rosenblatt-Cohen
A few years ago, when my older son was three and a half and my daughter newly a year, my son began referring to me as “Franklin” and insisting that we call him “Harriet.” For those of you not already humming the theme song (Hey, it’s Franklin!), Franklin is a TV show about a sweet turtle who has a baby sister named Harriet. My husband and I couldn’t quite figure out where this role playing was coming from: Was it gender-related? Did he want to be a girl? What was he trying to tell us?
About a month or so into our new identities, I took both of my kids to the park. My son was off and running while I watched my daughter crawl and toddle about. Soon, a woman–looking rather confused–approached me.
“Are you…Franklin?” she asked.
“Um…yes? Sort of?” I stammered.
“Well, there’s a little boy named…Harriet looking for you.”
With that mortifying conversation, I had an epiphany. This was my son’s way of expressing his jealousy at all of the attention his baby sister was getting. He became the baby sister. And I, in some mash-up of Freudian and toddler logic, became him–the older brother, the one with responsibilities. It sounds ridiculously obvious now, but we were so focused on trying to understand just who our son was, that we forgot to listen as he told us exactly what he was feeling.
To read the full article at New York Family click here.
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