Last night I met a girlfriend for drinks and a long overdue catch up. Once a month, we try to sneak away after the kids are in bed to talk about life, parenting, and everything in-between. We indulged in one of my favorite cocktails, the Parisian Bouquet at Palmers (fab bar to visit on Filmore). My girlfriend has an almost five-year old girl and two-and-a-half year old boy, similar to myself. One of the topics up for discussion was siblings. Why are some siblings immediately best friends, and others can hardly stand each other? The obvious answers such as control, jealousy, inability to share, and age, all make sense, but try explaining that to your heart when all you experience is bickering toddlers. It’s both exhausting and heartbreaking for a mother to endure over and over again. I can’t help but reflect on what my girlfriend said last night.
“She doesn’t like him”.
“She is mean to him and it’s so sad”.
“She doesn’t play with him”.
You’re so lucky Audrey and Jack play together”.
I wanted to hug her because I’d been there. Although Audrey and Jack are buddies now, this was not always the case. Jack was constantly taking her things, knocking over her lego tower, commanding more of Mom’s attention, and although he was/is the sweetest little boy, he annoyed the heck out of her. I wished my daughter was the type of kid that wanted to play “Mommy” to her little brother. But, instead she wanted to send him back to the hospital. Drawing from my own childhood, I couldn’t relate because my sister was beyond excited for me to be born. I realize now, how lucky I was to be gifted a sister who who never once wanted to “send me back” or “sell me” to another family. To this day, my sister is still one of the kindest, selfless, most nurturing souls I know. It’s a gift that some kids are just born with, and others need to be taught. Personally, I think it’s more common for the first-born to struggle sharing the spotlight with their new, adorable sibling that EVERYONE is obsessing over, than not. Can you really blame them?
The great news is, THIS WILL CHANGE! It may take longer for some siblings, but I speak from experience. Once Jack became more verbal and active, I started to notice a friendship budding between them. When they began to frequently play together, feelings of relief and happiness followed. It was like my heart was doing a dance inside! For so long, Jack has idolized his big sister. When she learned to ride her scooter, he had to too, even at the young age of 18 months. If Audrey started dancing, he would try to copy her moves. Whatever “Da” (his nickname for her) did, he would too. As the friendship grew, I’d hear Audrey proudly introduce Jack to her friends, and then bring him along to play. At home she calls him “little buddy”. Those two words are music to my ears. She likes him! The energy in the house started to shift, and I truly enjoyed being with them together. Of course we still have bickering and fighting, especially as Jack learns to assert himself more, but it’s part of life with toddlers. Just this morning, the two lost their minds over who is the “real” Spiderman. We were on the brink of a food fight, when I reminded them that it’s Peter Parker, and not either of them. Phew!
So, to the Mom’s who feel like my amazing and beautiful friend from last night, distraught and frustrated with the way your kids treat each other. Hang in there! With a little maturity, your kids will find the love and become the best of friends. Keep being the awesome, patient, loving mom you are. When the days seem long, and you are deep in the trenches of toddler battles, pour yourself a glass of wine, and remember, “This too shall pass!”