I have a sister, five years younger than me and although we are close now, there once was a time when I used to shove her out the door to our room, yell at her to “Stop copying me!”, and keep her from playing with my friends. I also have a younger brother, who is 18 months younger than me, and when we were little I threw him down against my metal bed frame and he hit his face. To this day, he still has this little indentation in his cheek when he smiles. It wasn’t there before that incident and sometimes when I see it, I still have some remorse. I can’t remember at what age our sibling rivalries started but I am getting a feeling, as I watch my three girls interact, that it started very young.
It is interesting to me how quickly things can go from good to battle in our household. One minute all is peaceful, calm, and cheery. In those moments I’m feeling awesome, I’m thinking that I must be doing something right, I am an accomplished mother, and it is bliss. I think I’ve even said aloud, “Wow, this is so nice!” Then moments later I hear “Smack!” “Whack!” followed by crying. A few times, I’m sad to say, there have been fists full of hair involved.
Just the other day I swear I must have only turned my back on baby Rocky and Georgia for merely a second when I heard crying. I swung back around to see Georgia on top of the baby. I went running over there to get her off, grab the baby, and then talk to Georgia about what happened. It was then I noticed the baby had stickers covering most of her face. According to Georgia she was being nice and was “giving the baby stickers, momma”. Turns out she had pinned her down to “give” her these stickers. We had a talk about where stickers go and then much to Rocky’s horror, I had to peel them off her little face.
Olivia is four, turning five in September, and she is of the age when playdates are starting to occur more frequently. I love when other kids come over to our house to play. I think some of my mom friends think that I have way too much on my hands with three kids to have a playdate at our house, but I find that an additional kid actually makes things easier in some weird way. The kids entertain themselves and typically they all get along really well.
But this past week I saw a darker side of these playdates. I saw how they can also be challenging and how they reminded me of the good ole days of locking my sister out of the room so she couldn’t play with us.
Georgia has been locked out a few times now and I have felt sad for her. What I’ve done is encourage Georgia to play with me and we’ve done some coloring or other activity together while Olivia is playing with her friend close by. It’s been a hard one for me because on one hand I want Olivia to be better with sharing, getting along with Georgia, and inviting her to play. But at the same time, it is her play date and having a younger sister around makes it hard for Olivia to get that special time with her friend. What I need to do is get Georgia some playdates of her own.
A couple of times I have been able to encourage Olivia to allow Georgia to play with her and her friend. In those cases Georgia has been assigned the role as the “wicked witch”, sometimes the “prince”, and a couple times the “monster”. These are roles, which Georgia has happily taken on. Sigh. I have had to tell Olivia that Georgia can be a princess too which usually works long enough for her to get assigned to the role of Snow White or Belle but never Rapunzel or Cinderella (those are Olivia’s favorite).
My husband and I are doing our best to have what we call “special time” with each child individually. Just this past weekend, Brent took Georgia to a Giants game. They had a great time and came home exhausted. He plans on taking Olivia in the near future. We have found that by having special time with each one, they start feel connected to us and they seem to let go of some of the rivalrous feelings towards each other. I’ve seen the kids come home and share about their experiences with one another. By each of them getting time with us it’s almost like they don’t have to compete as much.
It is so wonderful to have siblings, although, growing up, I do remember at times wishing I were an only child. Only children didn’t have to contend with people stealing your stuff and someone else using your favorite princess fork then teasing “nah, nah, nah, nah, nah” after they got it. But despite the teasing, taunting, hitting, kicking, and punching, I wouldn’t trade my siblings for the world. It was fun growing up with people to share it with and I know my girls will feel the same way. I often hear them in their bunk beds at night asking if they love each other to which they each say “yes” It is amazing.
I know our “sibling rivalry” experiences are surely just getting started. After all, we do have three girls. We are bound to have more fights over “stuff”, who borrowed who’s jeans, who gets the car, etc. Oh, man, what have we gotten ourselves into?