May 25, 2010

Brotherly Love and Sibling Rivalry

One of my greatest fears of parenting has been coming true.  Namely, that my daughters would realize that they are different people who don't want to share with each other.  I have vivid memories of fighting with my sisters- I was right in the middle of three girls within three years of each other- and our fights were awful.  Boys have one way of fighting.  They might hit each other, but they don't tend to hold a grudge.  Not girls.  Girls will tease and torture until somebody develops an eating disorder.

And I find myself the mother of two girls.  You can imagine my concern.

More and more, DD seems to realize that if SI has a toy, that means that it's not available.  More and more, this is not an acceptable arrangement.  We spent a great deal of yesterday on the go, and I spent an absurd amount of my energy rearranging toys.   DD would drop her toy on the floor, yank SI's away, and then watch anxiously as I gave toy number one to SI.  Repeat, repeat ad nauseum.  And poor SI.  She'll watch DD take her toy away, and instead of taking it back, she'll simply start to cry.

Now, they are still very calm, mellow little girls.  But DD is beginning to see her parents as a part of this proprietary universe.  I had a lovely little moment with the girls this morning.

DD stole a toy from SI.  SI, frustrated, reached to take it back, overbalance, and fell- banging her head very hard on the hardwood floor.  Of course I rushed over to pick her up and soothe her, and of course she screamed and cried.  DD, unfortunately, realized that mommy was picking up SI and not her.  What's more, she knew exactly why.  So as I walked SI around hushing and soothing her, DD intentionally face planted onto her play mat.  Did she hurt herself?  No- but she did fall over, look at me, and begin to scream.

Here comes the unexpected part- DD and SI were, of course, both on my lap and both crying, when DD realized that SI was being serious.  DD stopped crying, and started staring at SI with a look of unmistakable concern.  She kept looking at me and then at her sister, as if to say, "You can fix that, right?  Because really I'm okay and I don't like it that SI is sad."  Within moments of SI's calm silence, DD began beaming, bouncing, and laughing.  All things being right in the world.

They remind me already of me and my sisters.  I can't help but laugh- DD was completely unaware of her role is her sister's distress, but already has a sense of affection and empathy that makes her all the more lovable.  And poor SI, I know she'll be the victim of her sister's accidental cruelty for years yet.  But watching them I can already see them becoming friends.  Playing, sharing on occasion, and spending whole stretches of time just looking and each other and smiling and laughing.

I know the novelty will wear off.  I know that I'm their mom, so of course I'm proud of everything that they do.  But today they acted not just like children but like sisters... and now I feel a sense of pride, of nostalgia, and of sadness and fear all mixed together.  The time of having two infants, oblivious to each other is over.  They're siblings now- for better or worse- to become best friends or worst enemies.  I hope they are kinder to each other than my sisters and I (it would be hard not to be) and if today is any indication, I can be confident that someday they might hug and make up all on their own.

Today my daughters are sisters.  That's one step closer to being complete people.


  1. "I was right in the middle of three girls within four years of each other" -- Do the math, daughter! You were all within *three* years (35 months, actually). It's a miracle that your mother and I survived, so we deserve accuracy in describing our accomplishment!

  2. Since when is three years NOT within four years?

    My math prevails!

  3. The wording suggests more accuracy. But perhaps I'm getting senile -- after all, I am over ten years old!

  4. My younger brothers are identical twins (they've just turned 21) and it was a real playground for me sometimes (I get TWO baby brothers!? Yay!) and other times it was hell (they're like velociraptors when they fight). However, it is really fascinating to see two different personalities bloom from each of them and to see their appearance change slightly from injuries, hair dye, and whatever else.

    Rock on :D



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