If you remember our transition from one to two kids, the most shocking aspect (at least for me) was how quickly and adoringly Marlowe took to her little brother. It was almost as if she was his second Mom from day one. She’d want to hold him for hours a day, she was so aware of how he was doing or feeling, and when she woke up in the mornings she’d ask for him to snuggle with her in her bed. Every day! Watching the two of them together literally made my life complete, and I just pushed to the back of my mind any thoughts or questions about what I would do if they one day wouldn’t get along so perfectly.
But oh how times have changed! LOL. Ok, maybe that’s being a bit dramatic because the situation is far from dire– but the relationship isn’t just puppies and rainbows and unicorns anymore. Major is a full-on little kid now, and is just as physically capable as his sister. He’s also nearly the same size. They’re currently only 3 pounds apart! Most of all, though, he has found his own voice in a major (hehe) way. He knows exactly what he likes and doesn’t like, how he feels, and what he wants to do– and he can tell you. And this has become a serious issue in the Sister/Brother Love Bubble.
Whereas before Marlowe was the Big Sister whose brother gazed adoringly at her, cooed and gurgled, and gave her big wet kisses– he now wants to play with the same toys and sometimes doesn’t want to give or get kisses. And she is having a pretty hard time navigating this new relationship. They both are. They’re so close still, so it’s been interesting to see them go from hugging each other and begging to share a bedroom to full on fighting over a toy five minutes later. Sometimes they almost seem more like twins.
I’ll hear them chatting away in the next room, and then all of a sudden I’ll hear Major yell “Stop it, Sissy!” And then her yell “You stop it! I’m not gonna even be your best friend anymore!” And then Major gives her the ultimate burn: “BAD. BOY!!!” Then Marlowe runs to me, hysterically crying. It takes every ounce of my self control not to start hysterically laughing. Major realized recently that calling Marlowe a “Bad Boy” is like her ultimate kryptonite. I don’t know how it started, but now that he knows it affects her so much he pulls it out in all their worst fights.
She SOBS when he does it, too, barely catching her breath: “Mom…I’m not a boy…I’m not even a boy” LOLOLOL. I mean I truly think he just doesn’t know the word girl. Ha! I know that sibling rivalry and fighting is such a huge part of long-lasting sibling relationships, and I’m big on letting them work it out on their own. If one of them runs yelling to me that somebody did whatever bad thing to them, I tell them to say it to the person who hurt them instead of coming right to me. It’s so important for kids to learn how to articulate their feelings and to know that they are brave enough and important enough to express those feeling right to the source of the pain. If I see them bickering over a toy, even if one of them is clearly in the wrong, I do my best to hold my tongue and just watch. More times than not, they end up working it out themselves. Agreeing to take turns, or even to play with something different instead. If it looks like they’re going to get physical over a toy, I step in and tell them to find a way to share or I’m taking the toy away from both of them.
And when things get REALLY bad (like shoving each other kind of bad) I put them in Time Out on opposite sides of the room. I go to each of them when their time is up and tell them that they are each other’s only sibling, and will always have each other no matter what. I tell them if they stay best friends they will have the BEST best friend anyone could ever ask for. And then I remind them that they’re both the only other person in the world who truly knows how annoying it is to have Kyle and I as their parents and they should team up against us instead of splitting up. LOL. That always gets a laugh.
To be honest, it kind of broke my heart when they started fighting, but now I see it as the first opportunity for both of them to overcome conflict and work on interpersonal issues. Of course I love it the MOST when they have those loving and snuggly moments together…but I have to admit that listening to two kids under 5 hurl toddler-esque insults at each other is comedy GOLD!!!!!
Do your kids fight? If so what is your approach to dealing with it? I’d love to hear in the Comments below!
Photographs by Julia Dags