We had a dinner invitation last Thursday from Lauren, our daughter-in-law.

Lauren had issued the invitation several weeks before we left for Italy, which seemed notable, because usually when you live down the street, dinners and celebrations tend to be more last minute.

It didn’t sound like the usual invitation and turns out, it wasn’t.

On Thursday, we walked down the street. Sue first and I followed 15 minutes later.

When I opened the door, I knew. Knew something was different. Something was in the air and I would find out shortly what that something was.

Nora, bopping around like 3-year-olds often do, greeted me as soon as I walked in the door. That felt good. I was offered a glass of champagne and I accepted a glass of champagne. Then Lauren (there may be better daughter-in-laws, but she’s on the first team) said, “Nora, tell Papa what you’re going to tell him.”

Nora stopped bopping around for a moment, looked up at me as if she had been rehearsing her lines and now she was on stage and the spotlight was on her.

“I’m going to be a big sister,” Nora said.

Good delivery. She nailed it. All that practice worked.

Nora seemed both happy and unhappy. Little kids aren’t good at hiding joy or sadness. Not hiding is one of their many charms.

I thought I heard a catch in her throat. Maybe a hesitation. Lauren picked up on it too.

“She fine now but yesterday, Nora threw a fit all day long. She didn’t want to be a big sister, she didn’t want the baby to come home. It went on for hours and finally at the end of the day, she calmed down and said, “OK, you and Dad can have a baby and it can live here but you can’t be its parents.”

A reasonable compromise. Nora would share the house, and perhaps even her room, but the baby would have to make other arrangements in terms of his or her parents.

For perspective, and perhaps for some advice, Nora does have a cousin who had had the same problem, if having a new brother or sister is a problem. The 4-year-old might be available to give the 3-year-old some advice.

There are advantages, some hidden and some that will make themselves visible later on to having a younger sibling. Babies can be bossed around and terrorized by older brothers or sisters. They can be blamed for not putting away a toy and having somebody step on it and sprain their ankle, even if the innocent party had nothing to do with the leaving out part.

A younger brother or sister can follow in your footsteps and be awed by just how imaginative, athletic and street smart you are.

Later on, they can confirm your alibi, go along with your story and follow your lead.

Much later, they can stand up for you at school and at home. They can console you when your heart gets broken. Make you laugh in a way that no one else can. Understand you in a way that no one else does.

Like the sycamore leaves that are turning green to gold, change is in the air and down the street. If things go well, six months from now there will be new life. The third bedroom will be occupied. Nora will have a little brother or sister. With new parents, with the same.

Herb Benham is a columnist for The Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or 661-395-7279.

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