Friday, March 15, 2013

Night and Day

My two big boys are as different as night and day. This is good because each is definitely his own person, and each really seems to know his own mind. It's also bad because, well...they're siblings. And even siblings who have similar personalities squabble sometimes. Polar opposite siblings? Oh the fights these two have.

The way they fight is different, too. The boys' Mom and I have recounted countless "war stories" between the two. Jacob relishes being older and bigger. He's often the instigator, and he remains cool through most of the fight (physical or verbal). Caleb, on the other hand, is a scrapper. He gets mad and his temper flares and he will not back down. No matter how much we try to say, "just walk away; he's only looking for a reaction" it's just not in Caleb's nature if he thinks he's been wronged.

Often these days, the grown-ups' role is more referee than parent. More times than not, we're insisting that they go to separate rooms or threatening to take away electronics or XBox time if they don't just CUT. IT. OUT.  (Or, one my mother will surely appreciate: "I don't care who started it, I. Am. Ending. It!") We've also tried forcing them to work together to work out the issue (or complete the chore), but that typically only results in more refereeing.

With only about 3.5 years separating J and C, they used to really be great playmates. These days, that 3.5 years is a BIG difference. At nearly 13, J is writing papers and juggling pre-AP English, Math, Science, and History classes, middle school band, school and elite basketball, and select baseball. At almost 9.5, Caleb juggles GATES (GT program at the elementary level), rec. basketball, select baseball, and still gets recess most days.

And don't even get me started on girls. Both claim to think girls are silly and - dare I say it? - icky. However, the quantity of text conversations on J's phone between him and girls might give him away on that front. Caleb? Yeah, girls really are just too silly for him right now. He's our black-and-white, cut-and-dried guy. Girls are just silly, giggly beings only worthy of heavy sighs and eye rolls.

I'm certainly  no expert, but I'm sure at least part of the increase in the squabbling comes from the larger-than-the-numbers show age gap. They're in different worlds right now.Part of it, of course, is standard sibling rivalry - both are competitive and stubborn. Both have standard birth order complaints. Jacob is convinced Caleb is babied and coddled (not true) and Caleb is sure that Jacob unfairly gets more priveledges and freedom than Caleb does (also not true).

So, on rare nights like tonight when they agree on restaurant choice (or at least don't come to blows over it), gaming choice, AND movie rental? Those are nights I relish.

How do you handle sibling rivalry? Does separation or "forced" cooperation work better for you?
P.S. Mom? Thank you so much for not REALLY letting Lynne and I fight it out and raising whoever survived. I'm sure you're loving life's sweet revenge on us both now. :)

Julie Daneman is wife to Bryan, Stepmom to Jacob and Caleb, and Mommy to Sam. They are a boisterous, loving, happy interfaith family.

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