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Sibling Strife

I remember calling my mother when Jack and Molly had their first hand-slappy, indignant-shrieky, all-out-bawling fight. "I thought had YEARS," I said, stricken. "YEARS before they started fighting!"

My mother just the laughed the laugh of the Been There, Done That, Oh Listen To Silly Ignorant You mother.

I swear Molly was something like five days old when this fight happened. It FEELS like it. It FEELS like I've been breaking up fights over toys, peeling one child off the other, refereeing intrusions of personal space and shouting, "WHAT DID YOU DO TO YOUR SISTER?" for FOREVER. And I look at them and see my brother and myself, fifteen months apart to Jack and Molly's sixteen months, and I see the next fifteen years of horrible miserable sibling strife.

My brother and I were not particular friends. He needled and taunted me, I threatened and talked down to him, and even in high school I remember him getting so angry with me, he picked me up and launched me over the back of the couch. FOR REAL. We're nice to each other now, but I suspect that's because we do not have to live in the same house.

So perhaps I am a smidge worried for my two kids. All this fighting and tormenting each other seems completely natural and normal to me, and I don't do much about it except remove the offending party and check the other for traces of blood. I'm a big fan of letting my kids play on their own (mama likes to check her email!) and now that we have this new house with a big fence, they are sent outside every sunny afternoon. Nine times out of ten, any crying or whining I hear through the window has to do with someone stealing someone else's shovel. It's the same inside - toy snatching, usually, or - my favorite - "MOLLYMOO IS SITTING IN MY CHAIR!"

No matter how acutely I remember the feeling of a younger sibling sitting in MY spot, I still don't want to hear about it!

Roughhousing is only a recent issue, and I'm not sure how much I need to worry about it. Jack is starting to play pretty rough, but most of the time I suspect he doesn't realize he's hurting his sister. When he tackled my friend's little girl today I think he was just excited, not malicious (not that he gets away with it!) I hear Molly's SOS a lot more these days, but she's no delicate flower either. I imagine one of these days she'll give as good as she gets. I did push my little brother off my bed and break his collarbone - he wouldn't get out of my room!

But I also remember my parents saying, for the thousandth time, "JUST IGNORE HIM!" And, "DON'T BE A TATTLETALE!" And, "NOW, NO ONE GETS TO PLAY WITH IT!" Oh, how I hated when they said those things. I remember sitting in my car seat, my brother poking me in the head, and being told to JUST IGNORE HIM. I do believe this is when I started composing blog posts in my head, big fat venomous rants about the injustices I was forced to suffer. I only had to wait another ten years for people to invent the internet.

Right now I handle fights and dangerous play by separating the kids and finding other things for them to do. If either kid purposefully hurts the other, that's an instant time out. I have NO idea what I'll do when sibling RIVALRY starts happening. I don't even want to THINK about it. I mean, is Jack going to come home from preschool with straight As and give Molly a complex? Is Jack feeling rotten because we constantly tell Molly she's a pretty girl? GAK.

What sibling stage are you in?

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