In the past year, Major has fully evolved in to a toddler, and I’ve noticed the relationship between Marlowe and Major evolving as well. My kids have had a special relationship from the first moment they met. I’ve always watched their special connection and been in awe of it– when Major was a baby, Marlowe was always like his second Mama. The first thing she’d do when she woke up was ask how he was and “if he slept the whole night”. LOL. “Where’s my Bubba, Mommy? I want to snuggle him. Can you bring him in my bed?” It was never-ending! She would hold him for hours and hours every day and was always looking out for him and making sure he was doing well. And as a result, Major has always ADORED her. He’s totally obsessed, and finds so much comfort in his big sis. And he still does, but now his obsession with her has turned in to him wanting to do everything that she does– and his size and physical abilities have turned him in to her peer all of a sudden, instead of her little sidekick. And it’s been really interesting to watch how this simple change has totally spurred an evolution in their dynamic!
Marlowe has turned from Mommy to Buddy for Major now. He sees her as more of a playmate and idol than a caretaker, but Marlowe has NOT made that mental shift. LOL. She still wants to snuggle him in her arms and have him sit still like that the way he used to! She still wants to show him how SHE plays and does things, and for him to be in awe watching her– but (surprise, surprise) he wants to be right there with her. And playing with the SAME TOYS no less. What is a big sister to do?! She gets frustrated when she has to share a new toy with her brother and split the time equally.
I’m BIG on sharing. I don’t believe in “her” toys and “his” toys at all, and tell my kids that everything in our house is to be shared by our family. If they don’t like it, and can’t find a way to play with a toy together, I’ll take it away. I’ve recently instituted a “two minutes, two minutes” rule with a timer, where each kid gets to play with the toy for two minutes, and I set a timer on my phone. Spoiler Alert: putting a clock on it inevitably makes one of the two lose interest in the toy anyway, and the entire argument is dropped.
I’ve had lots of conversations with Marlowe about all of this. It’s almost like having a conversation with myself about my babies getting older. I tell her that I know it’s a bummer that Major isn’t our little baby anymore, but that there are so many fun things they get to do and experience together now that he’s older! Like he can ride in her Elsa Jeep with her with no grown ups! They can hang out in her bed together after lights out before I put him to bed! They both get to go on rides together and to shows together, and they can eat the same meals and everything! I think the hardest piece for her to process is the shift in her identity as leader and Goddess in his eyes. Marlowe used to say “Jump!” And Major’s response was more or less “How High?” Now she says “Jump!” And sometimes he doesn’t feel like following her directions or playing her game– and that DEVASTATES her. It’s actually pretty heartbreaking, even though I totally get it.
The other day, Marlowe came in to my studio sobbing. I thought she got hurt but when I asked her what was wrong, she told me that she wanted to pretend to be lions with Major, but he didn’t want to play that game with her. “He doesn’t want to play with me, Mom! He doesn’t want to be lions right now,” she told me through sobs. Her tears were real, too– the heartbreak kind. I had to explain that Major is still her best friend, but he’s his own person. He won’t always like all the same things she likes or want to play the same games at the same times– but mostly he does, and that’s why they are besties! She agreed, but I could tell that the power has shifted in to a new balance, and she knows it too.
Of course the other side of the coin, is that since Major has grown in to his own little guy, the dynamic between them has become more complex in all the best ways. They have SO much fun together, and can play together just the two of them for an hour without me having to step in at all. Sometimes I’ll hear them in Marlowe’s room talking and laughing on their own for ages, playing games and make believe. In fact, the other day Marlowe was shocked when I shot down her dream of marrying her brother when they grow up. She was incensed. “WHY can’t I marry him?! He’s the only one I want to marry! If I can’t marry him I won’t marry anyone!” I tried to explain to her that brothers and sisters can’t marry each other and that, anyway, her opinion on that one would definitely change in a few years. “Fine,” she said: “I’ll marry Daddy!”
It’s been so interesting to watch my kids’ relationship evolve and change as time goes on, while still remaining so sweet and close. I imagine there will be more surprises just around the corner! Did the relationship between your kids change when the youngest became a toddler? Please share in the Comments below!
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Photographs by Julia Dags.