Thursday, March 31, 2011

here comes sibling rivalry

My children don't like each other right now. They still play together well - for a while. But the love they had, the glowing affection, spontaneous compliments, hand holding and hugging: all gone, at least for this moment. And there was a lot of it.

They are 17 months apart. Most of my friends' kids are a larger spread, and they seem to argue from the beginning. I wondered if their closeness in age had something to do with their emotional closeness. But maybe their age spread has something to do with this now too...

I've been watching them and thinking about what's happening. Clark is in a very very contrary stage. If you suggest anything, anything at all, his response is a loud and resounding NO. Even if he means yes, he'll say no first, then revise. And Frances - she wants everything to go her way. She's very bossy, wants to be in charge, wants to decide the 'game' ("Okay. You be the baby and I'll be the mommy.") Used to be that Clark always went along with her, always said okay to whatever she suggested.

No more.

He's got some theories and opinions now too; he's not a baby anymore. Plus, he's so damn contrary. Whenever he says no to her, she gets her feelings hurt. When her feelings are hurt, she lashes out at him, which hurts his feelings. Then they're just mad at each other.

The other night at bedtime I said, "You're such a sweet boy, Clark. I know you argue with your sister, but I know you love her too." "I do NOT love sissy," he said. Well. He used to.

This is what I want to know: is this normal and expected and something I just have to put up with? Is it healthy? Was the previous love they had for each other just an anomaly, destined to crumble into the settling dust of the unavoidable twister?

It breaks my heart. It made me so happy that they loved each other. I didn't know how it had come to be, but I loved that it was. I thought they would grow up loving each other in that same way. I thought we had been spared what everyone else has to tolerate. It pains me to admit, but I felt a little superior about it, felt we'd done something right, even if I didn't know what it was.

Probably serves me right.

This morning at breakfast we each named something we like about each other. They were able to come up with things fairly easily. Perhaps if I can, in tiny increments, remind them of their affection, they might eventually come back to each other. You think?

1 comment:

andrea said...

relationships are hard. figuring out who you are is hard. all of this is sorted out and filtered in our private spaces, home. my boys love each other 80% of the time and fight the other 20%.... days when they are agreeable makes me feel like I am floating on top of the world. I think it is like all relationships... sometimes they are in sink, sometimes they are like oil and water.

I hear and feel your struggle.