From lessons learned from my brother, to the ways my children love (and fight with) each other, there’s no relationship quite like the sibling relationship! This month I talk about my girls and how they’re learning to be sisters.
I have a little brother. Well, not so little any more, I guess. He’s a fine, upstanding, generous-spirited man now. With 6 years between us, he annoyed the heck out of me when we were kids. I didn’t want a little kid following me around, copying me, and taking my stuff. Given the large age difference, we were never that close as kids, and I’m sad that we still don’t have the kind of sibling bond I’d like. I think that might have changed as we grew older, but I left home very early, and we never had that chance to grow closer. I feel like I missed out. I still regret this, and I want so much for my girls to have the relationship my brother and I never had.
My oldest was born 4 years ago, and from the very beginning I knew I didn’t want Tee to be an only child. I wanted her to have a sibling who would be a part of her life forever, especially after hubs and I are gone. Having formed the idea that siblings closer in age would be closer in general, we planned our second as soon as possible. And when I found out we would be growing our family, I started to prepare Tee right away. She knew that I was growing a little brother or little sister for her inside my tummy, and she delighted in kissing my bump and saying, “Good night, baby!” every night.
The night I went into labour, we sent Tee over to Grandma’s house. I had briefly thought about allowing her to stay for Kay’s birth, but at two and a half years old I think she would have been too young to understand, and she would have been frightened at seeing Mommy in pain. Instead she met her little sister for the first time the next morning. When I look at this picture, I wonder what’s going on in that head of hers. I don’t think she realized this was going to be a permanent arrangement.
Now at four and almost two, they have a love-fight-love relationship. They can’t stand to be apart. Every time we drop Tee off at school, Kay protests. Every afternoon, Tee can’t wait to go wake Kay up from her nap so they can play. And when they are together, they fight. They do the typical squabbling over who gets to play with the toy that nobody wanted until one girl happened to glance at it, and then there’s the physical roughhousing play.
Remember Cato from the old Pink Panther movies? How he’d leap out of nowhere to attack Inspector Clouseau? Well, some days it feels like that around here. Before Kay came along, I thought it was mostly boys who played like this, but my girls are like seasoned WWE wrestlers in the ring and I’m the referee. Unless it looks like someone is really going to get injured, I’ve been letting them roughhouse and figure things out on their own instead of stepping in every time. I’m trying to learn to coach from the sidelines, as it were. It doesn’t always work, but I remind myself it’s a process. This is how they’re learning and practicing how to get along, how to compromise, and how to make amends.
It warms me right down to the cockles of my heart when I see them playing cooperatively, or when Tee stands up for her little sister. When they kiss each other’s owies better, and on the very rare occasions when they take turns. They’re still little right now, and I’m not sure how it will all work when they’re 8 and 6, or 14 and 12, or 32 and 30 with their own lives and their own families, but as long as they love each other like they do now (though maybe with a little less hair pulling), I’ll be happy.
How do your children get along with each other? Do you think it helps being closer in age or further apart?