Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sibling Rivalry

Frick and Frack are at it again and I am at my wits end! My kids are 19 months apart and the only siblings each other has. Wouldn't you think there would be some semblance of brotherly sisterly love? Not a chance. Not with these two. The problem is that neither one has the least amount of tolerance for the other. She's 14 and a freshman in High School and he is 12 and a 7th grade middle schooler. Two completely different worlds and they fight like a couple of 3 year olds.
For years, around this time of year, the old, "Santa is watching" used to do the trick beautifully. Now they are wiser, meaner and know that all that Santa crap is a bunch of bull. They have even resorted to physical retaliation,which I will not tolerate, and name calling from time to time. She, being the oldest, I have explained to her, needs to set the example. We have had many conversations about karma and that her brother's behavior is mostly a reflection of the "mean" that she projects at him. I might as well be talking to the wall because she's not listening. She repeats the "he's so annoying" mantra over and over until the words become her reality. He is the youngest and complains that "she hates me so I hate her" there bye completing the vicious circle. (and I do mean vicious) He has even asked me why she hates him so much. Heartbreaking, I know.

I have to say I can relate to his angst. Being the youngest of five, all I wanted was love and attention from my older brother, my closest sibling in age. He was BRUTAL to me and I had the bruises to prove it. He saw me as nothing more than the annoying little sister he believed I was and he tortured me for it. My greatest weapon against him was,"I'm gonna tell mom". Yup, worked like a charm although I very rarely told on him. I wanted him to love me and I knew that going to mom would effectively put an end to that. The threat was all I needed and when I felt imminent danger, you bet I would use it. The moral of that story is that now, as adults, he is possibly one of my best friends and my go-to-guy on a lot of things. As for these two? I really wonder.

Take for example this exchange last week while I was in another country.


ME: Hello?

HER: Mom, He is in your room and we (her TWO friends) want to watch a movie and He won't let us.

ME: What? (placing my finger in my ear to hear better) Why are you and your friends in my room? (this NEVER happens-almost of the time they are holed up in her room and rarely come out, except to eat-we call her room The Den)

HER: We want to watch a movie and the Babysitter is watching TV in the family room so we can only watch it in your room and He is in there and won't let us.

ME: (now walking away from a hot blackjack table and I hand I just lost because I walked away) Can't you all watch the movie together?

HER: No way mom! We don't want him around.

ME: He was there first and does not have two friends over so either you let Him watch the movie with you or you go back to your room and leave Him alone.

HER: Mom! That's so NOT fair! There are three of us and we need to lay on the bed.

ME: So ask him nicely if he will move over to the sofa.

HER: He won't mom! He's being annoying.

ME: (because I know her so well) Did you ask Him or did you tell Him?

HER: I asked him mom, and he won't.

ME: Let me talk to your brother.

HIM: (annoyed) Mom, she comes in here and starts bossing me around and telling me to leave.

ME: I will deal with that when I come home. As for now, she has agreed to watch a movie with all of you together. Would you mind moving over to the sofa so that you and the three girls can all watch the movie comfortably?

HIM: I don't want to watch a movie. I want to got to bed and you said I could sleep in your bed while you were away.

ME: (realizing that this is not going to be easily resolved AND that I am problem solving via cell phone from another country) Ok then, you have two options. Number one, got to bed in your own room or number 2, watch the movie with the girls and fall asleep on the sofa. In case you guys haven't noticed, I am in Aruba.

HIM: Whatever mom. She can have your room. I HATE HER!! Click........

I didn't call back. I decided to let them work it out on their own. Call me a bad mother, call me a coward, call me crazy but I've had just about all I can take of the war of my children. Whether I am thousands of miles away or just down the hall-somehow they have to learn to work things out on their own. I hope and pray that they will become best friends someday. It's just that today I am waiting and wondering when and if someday will come.


Sass said...

I wouldn't have called back either. And we KNOW what a good mom I am. ;)

I think you handled it just fine, and I am soooooo dreading this phase.

But, like you, I wouldn't trade my life for the world. ;)

slopmaster said...

boys and girls are so different, and the difference, surprisingly enough, are most obvious while they're kids. Good luck!

LYDIA said...

I couldn't help but feel for your little boy - but that's me, always rooting for the underdog in the situation. I am sure it will work out over time though. How are you today?

AngieS said...

I have three, count them THREE, teenage GIRLS living in my house. Things are not perfect, they do fight. I have had a rule with them since they were young. "If you whine, you get the OPPOSITE of what you want." Period. No negotiation. As they've gotten older its taken the form of anger and fights. These days, if they can't come up with a solution themselves, (I'll help as needed, no fighting though)or if they simply decide they want to fight, neither party gets what they want. You did the right thing by not calling back. But in my house, everyone would have been out of my room, and the friends would have been sent home.

Piece o' Coconut Cake said...

You did the RIGHT thing. They are old enough to be able to work it out. Maybe this is the year your girl gets coal for Christmas. Really. Hw can they expect presents woth that kind of behaviour? They need to figure out that sometimes they need each other and the best way to get something that they need is to help the other out when they can. Now is an EXCELLENT time to teach them the art of negotiation, a skill that will come in handy for the rest of their lives. Also, unacceptable that they called you on YOUR vacation to bicker over a bed. 1: What are you paying the babysitter for? 2:If we ever did somthing like that to my parents, we would have BOTH ended up punished. That's how we learned NOT to go to them for every little annoying thing and for us (3 girls) to stick together. Because no matter who's fault it was, everyone involved would lose a priviledge. Unless someone was bleeding, we kept them out of it!

Piece o' Coconut Cake said...

Don't worry, they'll grow out of it and will come to appreciate each other. Look at you & your brother. It's just going to take a while...

Dr Zibbs said...

I have a 15 year old boy and a 12 year old daughter and they rarely fight. It amazes me because there were 5 kids in my house growing up and we fought all the time.

Scope said...

Parenting advice from a bachelor is like marriage advice from a Catholic priest: If you don't play the game, you can't make up the rules.

But... Your standard chores will earn you X number of chips. Extra chores, good grades, positive behavior: More chips.
Conflict? Buy the outcome you want. He bids 4 chips for the bed. Is it worth 5 to her? Unused chips can be cashed in for a trip to the mall or skateboard park.

And if their both being idiots, fine. No, FINE, as in, "That's a 5 chip FINE."

Make up the "Candy Coin" rules as you want, but make it be tangible, physical poker chips, not marks in a tablet. It hurts more to spend "Cash" than to put it on your "Credit Card".

And I only remember one blowup between myself and my 23 month older sister. We basically ignored each other. Look back on it, we all laugh. Such a goodie-two-shoes. (But I'm taking Gwen's advice here, and not "giving the milk away for free". Not that Gwen CHARGES for her "milk", OH HELL, you know what I mean.)

JasmineRENEE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CL said...

I used to fight a lot with my siblings when we were kids. Now, we're so close, and love each other to death.

Don't worry, that rivalry phase will pass. Eventually they'll grow up and love each other better.

Gwen said...

Hang in there. Eventually they grow up and move out.

Lisa said...

I'm pretty sure it's just age at this point... I had 3 boys all 2 years apart in the house at those ages and they fought.

I used to make them sit together in one chair until they lost their attitudes and/or quit fighting. Believe it or not, it worked for them. Within a few minutes, they were playing around and joking.

Good luck! They weren't my favorite years!

Robot Nine said...

Lucky me, I was 7 years after the other three and was an untouchable, spoiled and beloved little brat. Hey, if you like Ann COulter stay away from Laid Back Think Tank. Did you check out Judging the Books, a link I put up? It's a pretty funny blog. Alan