Siblings: Playmates & Punchbags

It’s a right of passage. The older sibling has the size advantage. The small one is just plain plucky, she’s undeterred by odds stacked against her!

After the first 2 minutes of playing nicely, a row errupts and ends up in tears. The first you hear about it is when the Zen in the kitchen is pierced by howls coming from the living room. You put the knife down on the chopping board and set off, like a peace envoy, on a quest to bring peace to the conflict zone!

I’m always surprised: they both apologise (well, they utter the words ”sorry” but I’m not convinced they mean it!), a quick hug and its quickly forgotten. And that right there is the problem: they forget! You return to prepping dinner, only to return a few minutes later.

This time though, separating them is the only way to save your sanity! The eldest is sent to play with lego in the Snug while the youngest gets to play with her dolls house. What happens? One of two things: they either get bored and come looking for mummy to play with them or, even worse, they miss each other so find a way to do something together instead!

And so we go! Sleep, eat, play, repeat! Truman Show, anyone?

I was the same with my baby sister. Hated her. Loved her. All at the same time. My best mate and the one person to play with on long summer hols and weekends, she was there even when the neighbourhood kids weren’t around. Dependable and ever present. But she was (by the very nature of the fact she was younger than me) irritating and a tell-tale (sorry Yam – you’re not irritating now). This gave me the perfect excuse for making her target number 1! You couldn’t get away with taking out your frustration on other people in the playground or in the street (that could result in a telling off from any one of a number of people, not to mention the fact you risk actually getting hurt), so you turn on the easy prey! I’m glad to say that we’ve grown up to be close, and despite the fact that I don’t see her nearly as much as I would like, she is my shopping buddy for obligatory winter sale shopping and dance partner at annual garba festival, amongst other things. I trust her opinion and I know she has my back. Always. She’s also the best masi to my kids, incredibly smart, talented and successful. She has a smile that can win hearts. I am her biggest fan. I’m sure the childhood bickering and scrapping has helped both of us to be resilient in a world where we’re all having to battle, to a certain degree. It certainly hasn’t done us any harm (although she is always complaining of a bad back and I do have a habit of sitting on her when we argue even now - surely, I can’t be blamed for that though?).

Next time you’re heading into the living room, ready to separate the opposition forces from each other and call a seize fire, perhaps we need to think about how this early experience might be supporting them to stand their ground in the wider world!! My husband’s motto for these situations: ”it’s character-building”!

I do hope my two grow up to have a close relationship. I am encouraged by the fact that they each want to hug and kiss each other before they agree to bedtime and genuinely miss each other when they’re apart.

...Ah, got to dash. The UN called: I’m needed!!!

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