What to do when your little sister wets the bed? If you're Hope, you become the best big sister ever!
I'm glad that my girls share a room. They didn't really have to up until now, but there were certain things that appealed to me about it. They have such a close relationship, bedtime routines involve the entire family together, emphasis on sharing, and added space in our home to name a few. Of course I see the merits of having personal space too, but we've managed to work this out agreeably among the girls. So, thus far, I've been very happy with our decision to have them room together.
Right now my girls have such a close relationship - I relish watching them play together and take care of each other. Sometimes now Maddie asks to have Hope tuck her in for her nap instead of me! - which is so cute! And Hope goes up with her, tucks her in, reads her a book, sings her a lullaby, kisses and hugs her - and believe it or not - Maddie then goes to sleep and Hope leaves. I'm not ready to give that up for myself yet, but I love that Maddie adores her big sister. And I'm proud of Hope for caring for Maddie and doing such a great job. I snuck in and got a shot of this yesterday - Hope had decided to climb into the bed with Maddie as she read her tuck-in story.
My daughters squabble just like other kids. But, somewhere along the way they developed a secret code just between themselves....it's called the "sharing calendar." It has no basis on any object, least of all a calendar - it's just this weird code word. I don't get it, but basically the rules appear to be that if either of them invokes the "sharing calendar" the other one just obliges to share whatever they have without quip or argument. It's like magic. Seriously...If Hope has quickly devoured her own food and wants in on whatever Maddie has, even the best treats - all she has to do is say, "Maddie, remember our sharing calendar, can I please share with you?" and Maddie says yes and all is good. It happens in the reverse direction too. And it can regard anything...food, toys, books, activities, clothes...you name it. I don't exactly know how this came to be, it's clearly a sister thing. There is no rhyme or reason to invoking it either. Sometimes they decide to grab and fight and whine and throw fits... and sometimes it's as easy as pie because one brings up the sharing calendar. It's almost as if someone hypnotized them to respond in a certain way to a trigger phrase, because so far it is absolutely consistent and hasn't failed once. But it's just some weird sibling display of love, because after it's been invoked, they always sit happily together sharing in whatever they have, talking and giggling and having the best of sisterly moments. And I stand by and stare at them dumbfounded as if I've suddenly been sucked into a parallel dimension through the twilight zone.
Usually Hope is the one who sometimes likes to tease her little sister - by holding a toy out of reach, for instance. (Most of the time, the girls are busy hugging and kissing and loving each other - but there are those moments....) Of course, teasing and taunting are not tolerated in our household. But little Maddie has a streak in her that she keeps under wraps until just the right moment. Up until now she has really never been guilty of this particular offense, but I totally had to restrain my laughter today when she grabbed some dolls Hope had previously been playing with (and hadn't allowed Maddie to join in) and started running through the house all smiles singing "you can't catch me! you can't catch me!" Of course, Hope could catch her and did. Still, this tactic has never been demonstrated to either of the girls - Maddie pulled it out all by herself. Just goes to show that kids don't need mischievous others to teach them how to tease or misbehave...it's inherent.
Got this email from a dear friend of mine (who will remain anonymous) and I just had to share it with you. Now this is authentic parenting!!!!
My day so far-besides starting the day sick with my congestion and a significant cough:
9:00 let the hooligans out of their rooms, both arguing about what they won’t wear
9:30 While I’m on phone with doctor’s office on hold for a bill I already paid for and have the receipt for, Baby Girl dumps bowl of milk on top of her hair. Despite quick attempts to wash it out, it is currently sticking straight up and has the consistency of straw. While cleaning that up, Little Boy stands on the fireplace and projectile spits an entire mouthful of milk all over the floor and carpet. I never did get through to the doctor’s since I had to get off the phone to deal with the kids.
The rest of the exact times are a blur now, it’s 11:30 currently:
-My mom calls. The cordless phone dies. I plug in the other phone. While plugging in other phone, Baby Girl pulls out the craft box. Little Boy finds the red glitter glue and spreads it all over the tv screen, couch, fireplace, children’s chairs and coffee table(in mere seconds). After cleaning that up and disciplining him, I call my husband to also give Little Boy a talking to. For the two minutes on the phone with my husband, Little Boy walks over to the corner and pees on the carpet. While I get off the phone and deal with him climbing on the dresser and peeing, Baby Girl takes out every beauty product and medication from under the sink. After I secure Baby Girl, Little Boy goes into the living room and dumps a glass full of milk on the floor(supposedly by accident). I decide at this point that I need coffee so we have a few serene minutes while Little Boy and Baby Girl help me make coffee. While I set up our craft, I realize Little Boy had misplaced a major piece of the craft in his morning dealings. I tell him to find it and he sweetly asks for help. While I help to look for it, he takes the opportunity to spray Windex from the entertainment center, still there from cleaning up the glitter glue, into my coffee and into Baby Girl’s eyes in one foul swoop. At this point, I put him in his room to think about his actions and locked the door, taking care of Baby Girl. I go pour a second cup of coffee. Upon taking it out of the microwave, I somehow lost hold of it, spilled hot coffee on every piece of clothing I had on and broke my favorite mug(however, glad to not spill it on Baby Girl). At this point I gave up and am writing this email! I’m still trying to decide if its in Little Boy’s best interest for survival to let him out of his room…
Recently, Tricia asked me if
I’d be interested in contributing to her blog with some reflections
being the mother of twins plus a first child that was only 1 ½ when
they were born. This is a question that I get all the time: “So you
must really have your hands full – how do you manage?” The
answer to this would be that I have no idea. People say, “I just don’t
know how you do it,” and I think, “me neither.” As my husband,
Chris likes to say, we’re just trying to survive and our only real
job right now is to keep the three of them alive.
Now that we’re out of the marathon phase of three-hour feeding schedules for infant twins (including three to four wake up calls each night), I think we can get past survival mode. Newer priorities include herding, refereeing, and keeping anything weapon-like out of reach. They’re not violent children – just very physical. The oldest probably sets the tone by initiating games that tend to involve knocking each other down on the floor and seeing who can hold the others down the longest (and as a 35 lb. “toddler” that looks like a 4 year old, he has a gross advantage over the other two pee wees combined). Honestly, after about six months of feeling like I ruined Oliver’s life by bringing home not one, but TWO unwanted siblings, I’m just glad that they all seem to like each other.
Do a search on "birth order" and you'll find endless hits, or just read The New Birth Order Book by Kevin Leman for example - but what's the big deal? Does your position within your family really matter that much? As an only child, I never really gave much thought to it - until my second child was born. She is totally different from her older sister - I'd easily say I could see personality differences almost instantly from birth, but I have to admit - there are some things in both of my girls that already seem to line up with the generalized characteristics attributed to birth order. More and more interest is being generated towards this field of study, but it is a very difficult area due to so many factors. Interestingly, back in June a group of Norwegian scientists released a study which showed that first children tend to have higher IQ's than any siblings born after them. But what does this mean to me? Can so much of our choices and tendencies really be attributed to birth order? Can knowing these trends help me to help my children be the best they can be? Or is it all just something interesting to ponder, but nothing that carries any stock? What do you think? (interesting articles on birth order: CNN.com, TIME magazine, Adlerian overview of characteristics)
"I wondered how far apart your girls were, and if you had any good thoughts on what to think about when adding to your family with a second child. My husband and I in the process of making that decision and trying to think of that issue from every angle!" - B. K.
My girls are EXACTLY two years apart - in fact they will celebrate their birthdays on the 12th and 13th of this month. I don't think anyone can tell you what is going to be best for you and I don't think you can be totally prepared. What I can tell you from my own experience is this: having a newborn and a two-year-old is challenging no matter how great your kids are. Having a two-year old and a four-year old is challenging no matter how great your kids are. Having them any closer together just increases the challenge. And having more than one child is just inconvenient in general (as in, how do you fit two kids plus groceries in a cart?) But, I love the way my girls play together now, the sister moments they have. I love that their interests still overlap a bit and that I can sweep them both up in my arms at the same time (at least for a moment). Spreading them out a bit may have given me a bit more sanity at times and who knows what things will be like when they are both teenagers....but for us, two years difference is great and we are totally enjoying it! When you want another baby, just do it. That's the best time - any child who is brought into this world because they were really wanted to be there by their parents and loved no matter what, has it made. Regarless of timing, it will bring both challenges and unique blessings. I don't think there is any perfect time - whether financially, emotionally, or whatever. Just be ready to give your heart away one more time - it is so amazing the way you can love more than one child at the same time and love them both so completely. But I will say this....having a second really changes things. It pulls your attention away from the first sometimes, and you can't avoid that. And, the second never gets the one-on-one time you have had with the first, either. It's not necessarily a bad thing, just different. So whatever you do, make sure to really enjoy these moments when you only have the one, they are special and you'll never forget them.
I want to highlight a few things regarding what I've already shared:
First, the reason I don't cater to making everything even and fair between my girls, is for their benefit. Life just doesn't work that way. They will not always accomplish the same things, receive the same prizes and accolades. They will not always have the same things, the same finances, the same opportunities. They are two different people, with different gifts, abilities, personalities, and resources. They cannot expect to live in comparison to one another, but must learn to do the best they can with who each of them is and what each has been given. They must find their own success, not match eachother's success.
Second, there are some things which I do deliver to both of them always - my love, for one. I do not make comparison statements to them. I try very hard to be equally encouraging, supportive, respectful, and helpful to each of them. I try to spend time with both of them together and separately, and to learn who they are as individuals so that I can comfort, nurture, and teach them as best as I can in the most beneficial way to each. I do not withold from one and give to the other in a malicious or punitive way.
As a result, I witness both of my girls growing confident in who they are as individuals. They are more willing to share with one another. They do not demand equality, but appreciate what they receive. And they are capable of dealing with times when something seems a bit unfair in ways that are resonable and healthy.
I mentioned that I have given up the idea that things must always be fair between my girls. Here are just two examples of what I mean:
1. I do not often buy "pairs" of toys. Many parents end up locking themselves into having to make sure that if one child gets something, the sibling must also get something and often the very same something. They find themselves in a position where a tantrum ensues if this isn't the case. And because they have frequently given in, the child learns how to get what they want. My girls might both get a little something - but because of the different stages they are in, it might not be the same something. Sometimes they can choose to share, sometimes one just simply cannot have what the other has. Sometimes I will buy something for one and the next time we are out it will be the turn of the other sibling to receive something. My girls are learning to be grateful for whatever they do get when they get it - and not to demand something. They are learning to share with each other.
2. Hope recently started asking if she had "more" than Maddie whenever I serve them food. I found this strange because I've never spent time counting out grapes, for instance, to make sure they both have the exact same amount. So I've had to counter this with asking Hope, "Do you have enough for you, Hope?" I explain to her that she will not always have the same amounts of everything and that's the way it is. There is no need to compare. I say, "I will take care of what your needs are, you won't need to worry. And I will take care of whatever Maddie's needs are too, even when they are different."
Posted by Tricia Morgan in
Parenting siblings is an interesting feat. There is a fine balance between neccessary involvement and letting them have a relationship of their own without my constant interference. There is the challenge of raising two totally individual personalities, two different ages and stages, and in my case, the challenges that arise from siblings who are close in age and the same gender.
While it is an ongoing process, I feel like I am learning alot. And here is something - I've given up on always making everything fair and even. Life just doesn't work that way and someday we all have to face the facts. And to be honest, it works out better for me too! Because, my girls are learning how to deal with that in ways that are positive and healthy... and they don't drive me crazy over little stuff. I share some examples with you to illustrate this in part 2 of this post.
Suddenly my lap has become a treasured commodity - or at least a method of asserting some kind of victory over a sibling. What used to be peaceful moments of reading together has turned into all-out brawling over who gets to sit in mommy's lap. One child screams and cries (or in the case of Maddie, also pulls and yanks) while the other one sits triumphantly in my lap. If the lap-sitter moves at all, the other leaps in to claim "my turn."
Actually taking turns is no solution here and neither is trying to sit both of them together, each on one leg, nor is removing both from my lap a peaceable solution. The only solution seems to be moving on to some other activity. Both girls get individual time to sit with me throughout the day, so this is clearly a sibling issue - fascinating to me as an only child. But it's fun to see Maddie getting old enough to have true and strong interactions with her sister, even if some of that is characterized by rivalry.
I remember when Hope was a newborn... when that grasping reflex was still in full force and before she had the ability to let go. My darling daughter was born with a headful of thick dark hair... and I, on many occasions, upon hearing cries of pain, found her chubby little hands pulling out her own hair! It was so sad and funny all at the same time.
Well, these memories have recently been drummed up by Maddie's new obsession of pulling hair - to the utter frustration of her now long-locked older sister. We've been trying our best to end the behavior... and as a result she has developed this new and quirky little habit. Whenever she becomes interested in someone's hair - she now reaches up, pulls her own, and says in the cutest voice "Ow!"
My two-and-a-half year old daughter, Hope, has always been a bit of an achiever when it comes to baby milestones. She walked at nine months and could sing the alphabet song in it's entirety, including the end part before her second birthday. Right from the beginning, her personality gave her a sort of drive to reach certain goals. This spring and summer she managed to hit a few more milestones, launching her further into full-fledged kid-dom. No more diapers... no more sippy cups.. no more high chair.
On the other hand, her baby sister Maddie seems to have quite a different style. Even in these first months she is clearly less interested in achieving things for herself and more interested in the people around her. She is less independent and more cuddly. At 7 months, she has just recently managed to master rolling over in both directions. She is tackling things at a much more laid back pace. I always knew that my two children would be different from eachother and that there was not much use in making comparisons.
It is fun and interesting to see their differences played out even at such young ages... and although some of the things which make them unique are more subtle, some truly are not. I am glad for this because it serves as a reminder to me that although I am "mom" to both of them and many things must remain consistent within our home, still there are some times when equality is less important than addressing and caring for each child as an individual.