Being the youngest of seven children, one would think I could write an entire book on sibling rivalry but alas, I cannot. I have little to no experience on the matter. My youngest sibling, my brother, is five years older than I and he is amazing in that he basically catered to my every whim. After a particularly brutal battle with his little sister, my son asked my brother, "Uncle Dave, did you fight with my mom like this when you were our age?" To which my brother replied, "No, we pretty much had to stick together." Sad but true. A good childhood is no preparation for life and idle hands lead to nothing better to do than stir up trouble with your sibling.
When my daughter came into this world, I prided myself in all the thorough consideration I gave to the possibility that my son could feel displaced. We rented books from the library, (Darcy and Gran Don't Like Babies, I'm a Big Brother) we talked a lot, we took the crib down way before she was born and let my son sleep in a cool tent in his room because he was such a big kid at 2 1/2 years old. I never so much asked him to get me a diaper for his sister. It was very important to me that he not feel like a servant to his little sister. Then one day after a particularly rough episode of rebellion, my son actually said he felt like he was being replaced. I told him that was ridiculous and he was just repeating what he heard on Arthur. I mean, seriously, we had a second child for him. It was, in our eyes, a gift. I usually do encourage our children to be verbal with all their thoughts, feelings, and concerns. It is important to me that their feelings are validated at every level but for the life of me, I was so sick of this bickering and was so tired of it all! Nothing worked: I involved, ignored, and separated them, I forced them to work it out, forced them to hug, forced them to say sorry when all they wanted to do was stab the other with a dull rusty blade. I yelled, cried, pleaded, explained, and encouraged them to work it out on their own. I was confused, stressed, and worried that these two loves of my life would grow up hating each other.
Then one day, it happened, the clue we didn't know we were searching for. The epiphany! We let our daughter do something we never had before: We let her use the toaster. The horror! You would have thought we let her handle plutonium! Our son was so uncomfortable, insisting that we let him help her. He could not settle himself, could not let it go, and basically treated the situation as if we were the worst parents in the world for letting her work such a complicated piece of machinery. I mean really, will they just let anyone be parents? Who is running this ship anyway?!?!
After the children went to bed. This is an hour long process that I will discuss in another post. My husband and I discussed, at length, how bizarre we found our son's behavior and came to the conclusion that this kid worries incessantly about his sister and wants to control her every move. This ultimately drives her completely bonkers to the point that she wants to strangle him. That and she is human, seven years old, and does not have the tools to tell him to #$%& off in a healthy manner.
The new day... We asked the kids if they thought this might be the case: Brother trying to "help" but coming off as controlling. Sister, sensitive, but capable, and tired of his bossiness. They agreed. We discussed some healthy words to use, (please, space, thanks but I can handle it) some behaviors to incorporate such as walking away, counting to three before demanding a response, and please please please don't whine, and keep your hands to yourself. We are doing well and feel like we are on the right track. My son is type A, he is not going to change much in that department. My daughter is frustratingly stubborn, I don't know what type that is but I don't see her changing much either. They still argue about who sits where and who goes through the door first. It is their lot in life. I only hope that because they have each other, they will be more apt to navigate the choppy waters of interpersonal relationships in their life with a little more patience and dignity.
|Ahhh, good times. Now that I think of it, he was telling her which ride they should go on first...|
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