Monday, August 27, 2012

Sibling Rivalries, Age and Gender Gaps

This past weekend was all about the kids. The three amigos, who for four years of their little lives were together alost every day. Gavin and Leah have a very sick dad and Jonas has a huge life change about to come his way when BB arrives. It was important to me to give them a couple of days to spend together before the end of summer and the start of the fall whirlwind. When this opportunity came up, I jumped at it. They seemed to have a blast, and I hope it gave them all a shot of  "These people are always in your corner!" before the next wave of changes and challenges come upon them.

In retrospect, it was an important weekend for me too. It gave me a refreshing dose of reality. Went spent two days and two nights together, including 24 hours at a local campground. Pregnant mom takes three kids camping by herself could have been a recipe for disaster but it was so far from that. Oh sure, the boys had their moments when their testosterone got the better of them, and there were several little spats and one big one that resulted, but overall, it was a fabulous weekend. They all came away happy and asking to do it again, and I, well, I came away with boosted confidence.

The camping trip was a huge hit!
Let's put it this way, I got a vivid reminder of the challenges of sibling rivalry, age and gender gaps. Maybe I've got my rose coloured glasses on again, but those challenges, or rather the way I handled them this weekend, gave me hope. The age and gender gap between 8 and 9 year old boys and a six year old girl, who consider themselves to be more siblings than friends, can be HUGE sometimes. There were several times when the boys wanted to go one way and Leah the other. Even tougher were the moments when all three seemed to have completely different agendas, much as I suspect will be the case with our 9 year old and the new baby.  I may be biased but I think I did very well handling it all.

There was three moments that were particularly challenging.

The first was on Thursday night at the movie theatre. After a very late start and dinner, we hit the theatre much later than I planned. The kids were all eager to see ParaNorman so I bit, and got us tickets to the late show. (That was a mistake, but let's not dwell on that.) 10 minutes into the movie and both Leah and Jonas said they were scared. 20 minutes in and they asked to go home. So we did. Gavin was very disappointed. He's more mature than the other two, and he was very much enjoyin the movie. We compromised by going home, pulling out the hide-a-bed and putting on a movie for them to fall asleep to. Meanwhile, I promised Gavin that once everyone got settled into the school routines, we'd have a date with just him and I to watch that movie. Smiles all around. Success!

The second was on Friday morning when the three of them wanted to do three different things and required at least one of the others to so. They just couldn't find a compromise and were starting to get frustrated so I intervened with a change in the day's agenda. We left for our camping trip early and we were immediately all on the same page. It was smooth sailing for the rest of the day. Success!

The third was VERY early on Saturday morning. The boys woke up just after 6am with their gears stuck in "competitive" mode. For an hour, it was a little alpha male contest, that escalated into a pushing match when I decided to pack up camp. (The rest of the people in the campground did not need to wake up to that hulabaloo, except maybe the teenagers on the site beside us, who stayed up laughing and blaring music until the wee hours.) It relapsed into screaming/punching/biting when I packed them into the Jeep but had to jump out to grab a laundry line that I forgotten. After about 3 seconds of them shouting out that it was the other guy's fault and why, I stopped them with my own shout of "Silence!" (it was a volume shout and not an angry shout, altought I admit that I was teetering between the two) and drove everyone home. When we got there, I sent one boy to his room, the other to Tasha's room, and started to usher them into bath time one at a time, starting with Leah. By the time Gavin got out the tub and Jonas was ready to go in, they were best friends again and played together perfectly for the rest of the morning. Success!

Ok, these aren't huge successes worthy of a medal or anything, but the were eye openers for me. One of the things I worry about most when I think about BB, is sibling rivalry, age and possible gender gaps, especially with a kiddo who's ADHD/ODD and anxiety-prone. I came face to face will all of these this weekend and I think I handled them well, even with no sleep. The weekend gave me confidence. I know I'm not perfect and I'm never going to be, but maybe the fears I have about the new baby are making me doubt myself more than I should. Maybe I can pull this thing off. Time will tell but I'm going to go with that thought.


We had a few rough moments but the smiles prevailed.


  1. I'm 9.5 years apart from my sister and we never fought. But she was a girl, he's a boy. So you never know. I hope he'll step up to the plate and realize he's got a new job in life. Protect his baby brother or baby sister. That might be one of a few things that....pulls him out of his issues and helps him mature in the coming years.

  2. Thanks Izzy. I think he's going to be a great big brother. He's a very loving and sensative kid, and he cherishes his relationship with his big sister. He's generally very good with younger kids, in fact, better than he gets along with kids his own age. Time will tell but I think it's going to be ok.