Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Parenting Siblings as an Only Child

My husband and I are only children.  We have no concept of what it's like to have brothers or sisters.  We don't understand the dynamics between siblings and we have no idea what is normal and what's not.  As far as we're concerned, it's a constant party with your very best friend right! next! door!

And so, having two boys 20 months apart is... interesting.

We are constantly astounded at the vim and vigor with which siblings would, apparently, like to kill each other.  It appears that the Big One's greatest desire is to beat up the Little One and take his toys.  Except that it isn't.  It's like a switch.  They'll be happily playing together (or across the room from each other) when the Big One turns around and must think something like, "Hey!  He looks happy.  I should fuck that up tout suite."  What in the hell.  He jumps on the Little One, sits on his head, runs over to take his toys, whacks him out of nowhere and tackles him about 65 bazillion times a day.  It is CONSTANT.  We tell people about it- how aghast we are at what appears to be his random, focused rage and violence.  And those people invariably raise their eyebrows and laugh at us.  "Yup," they say.  "They're brothers."

Meanwhile, the Little One could not adore the Big One any more.  He runs to him when he wakes up in the morning or from nap.  He attempts to share and bestow gifts upon the Big One.  He absolutely lights up when he thinks he's done something that may impress or tickle his big brother.  He is a hardcore groupie, yo.

The Little One's only recently started to fight back when the Big One harasses him, but it is something to behold (as we knew it would be... this kid does EVERYTHING big.  No middle ground).  He hits back, hard, and usually in the face.  He's mighty proud of his abilities- probably because he thinks it makes him more like the Big One- but I'm just envisioning the hundreds of ER visits we'll have in the future.  I'm terrified.

On top of all this hitting and screeching, it is exhausting trying to keep them from killing each other.  I know I'm not supposed to intervene too much; they're supposed to learn to work things out.  But I'm having a hard time figuring out when that's supposed to happen.

I've heard, "Only intervene if someone's going to get hurt."  And, well, that's super duper helpful except that I have two homicidal toddlers here and SOMEONE IS ALWAYS GOING TO GET HURT.

I've also heard, "Give them space to play together alone so that they learn to compromise and share."  This would be all well and good if I lived in a house where I could kick them out into the backyard to, quoth my father, "Let the wind blow the stink off 'em" (aka: run around in circles until they were too exhausted to scream and beat each other anymore).  But I can't.  I live in an apartment.  We have neighbors that- I'm virtually positive- we terrify on a regular basis.  If I leave the two of them alone in a room together for more than two minutes, I'm going to come back to shattered glass, broken plumbing, and hummus smeared on every surface.  And that's best case scenario.

And then finally I've heard, "Don't worry about it.  It'll all work itself out and they'll love each other later."  Except, I CANNOT HELP BUT WORRY ABOUT IT.  This very issue fills every second of every day with yelling and throwing and hitting and crashing and Oh. My. God. Make. It. Stop.  I can't just "not worry about it."  I have 17 years to get through before they like each other enough to stop trying to kill each other.  And even that's a gamble.

And so, Dear Siblinged Ones, I ask you.  What do I do?  How do I ensure the survival of both children and minimize the gaping wounds?  And how do I remain somewhat sane for the next 17 years.  BECAUSE I AM FINDING IT DIFFICULT HERE, PEOPLE.

P.S. If you tell me not to worry about it, I will find you and leave you with my kids for a full 24 hours and then YOU can not worry about it.  K?  K.

1 comment:

  1. I'm one of four kids, four kids born in five and a half years. My younger sister and I are 15 months apart, my older, only 22 months. We were best friends and worst enemies. I admit kitchen knives were brandished. We all still love each other and hang out. I think the key is to be consistent in your parenting. They will still hit and torment each other, but they'll first ask, is it worth the consequence? Sometimes it will be, sometimes it won't. We had our own code of never in the face, don't leave a mark, and never tell dad.