Since my husband and I were both only children, we knew we were entering a brave new world by having two kids. We did our best to give them both attention and encourage them to be nice to each other.
And they DO love each other… most of the time.
But we’ve learned that no matter how much you encourage siblings to get along, they’re going to bicker and vie for your attention. Whenever I’m holding Brontë (my three-year-old) on my lap, for example, Bridget will ask to be held too. I’ll plop her on the opposite leg where, without fail, she will s l o w l e y inch over in tiny increments until Brontë is effectively smeared off the other side.
It’s both touching and frustrating to watch your kids fight for your cuddles, but then again, they also fight over toys, snack, cats, cardboard boxes, and take pleasure in annoying each other on principle.
Because that is what siblings do and I’m starting to think that’s Nature’s intention.
Why? Well, it’s a sort of rivalry that stirs up competition and what is life without some friendly competition? We’ve been doing it ever since the first fish managed some flip legs, said “see ya, suckers,” and crawled onto the shore to found the amphibians.
And I can’t help noticing how this competition is sparking creative leaps and bounds in my kids, so maybe it’s not all bad.
Ever since they’ve wrapped their minds around the idea that direct aggression, AKA might-makes-right maneuvers, are forbidden in this house, they’ve had to evolve from punching each other in the face to far more subtle tactics.
For example, Bridget has figured out that big sister likes to do things by the book, even when those things are silly.
Case in point: When I’m driving them around, whenever we drive through a tunnel or long overpass, I start yelling, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!’ The kids picked up on this early and like to do it too.
Why? Because it’s fun, that’s why. One great thing about kids is how they don’t question mommy’s bizarre behavior. “Because it’s fun” makes perfect sense to them and they see no reason to question it further.
But even silliness needs to follow the rules, in Brontë’s book, so it didn’t take long for Bidgie to figure out that yelling thirty seconds BEFORE you enter the tunnel will drive sister up the wall.
So as soon as a tunnel is within sight, Bidgie will start yelling, which drives Brontë into flailing hysterics. “NO! NOT YET SISTER! NOT YET, BRIDGE-JIT,” Brontë screams as baby sister giggles maniacally and yells as loudly as she can.
Then, the moment we enter the tunnel, Bidgie goes dead silent, making Brontë throw up her arms and scream, “NOW, SISTER! WE YELL NOW!” Bridget clamps her lips together with true conviction as big sister flips around, demanding that everyone scream.
Brontë doesn’t forget these indignities, of course, and pays her sister back every morning. Brontë is what people call a “morning person,” popping out of bed at the crack of dawn like an over-caffinated meadowlark.
Bridget, on the other hand, takes after me… not a morning person by anyone’s definition.
So when I say it’s time to wake up Bridget, Brontë lights up and wants to go too. As soon as I open the door to the girls’ room, Brontë races over to the crib, throws back her head, and screams “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD MORNING BABY SISTER!” at the top of her lungs while Bidgie winces.
“TIME TO WAKE UP!” Brontë yells, giggling as she reaches through the crib bars to poke at her groaning sister. Bridget always scowls, though she is somewhat comforted by the knowledge that she will be tormenting her sister throughout the evening by flipping lights on and off (after figuring out that Brontë is scared of the dark, Bridget learned how to work the light switch real quick).
This has all been incredibly entertaining to watch, but while I’ve been impressed by both of my daughters’ creativity, this week’s prize for manipulative genius must go to Brontë…
Whenever I’m in the middle of doing something with Bridget (changing her diaper, feeding her, etc), Brontë suddenly has an “emergency” that needs attention. Maybe she suddenly wants to go use the potty, or “accidentally” trips and hurts herself.
Tired of Brontë lighting fires whenever I was in the middle of something, I started telling her she needs to wait her turn, that I was dealing with Bridget at the moment and she needs to be patient.
But kids are nothing if not quick character studies, and Brontë has figured out that making momma laugh is one of her most effective tools.
So when I was holding Bridget the other day, I heard screams coming from my bathroom…
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Brontë yelled at the top of her lungs. I raced in to see what the problem was:
Brontë: MOMMA, HELP! I’m turning into a mermaid!
Me: A mermaid? You have a tail instead of legs?
Brontë: No, I’m a kid again. You missed it.
Good show, Brontë… Good show.