Friday, October 12, 2012

In Which I Think About Sibling Rivalry

Watching the twins deal with each-other, and of course watching my older kids, I've been thinking a lot about sibling rivalry.  Weston and Aila just crack me up...he wants ALL THE MILK and she knows that as of right now, she can walk and he cannot (although he's really starting to now!)  So Aila will hold her sippy cup over her head where he can't reach it and run like crazy to get away from him.  When she realizes he's GOING to get her and there's nothing she can do to stop it, she'll drop what he wants and go in the other direction.  She'll scream at him for taking whatever it is, but she's already learned she'd rather let him have it than have him attack her for it.  When I'm holding Aila, Weston can't stand it and will walk over to the couch and start saying "Mamamamamamam" over and over and over again until he gets picked up.  It's ALWAYS a competition with those two, for food, for attention, everything. 
Then there's Dalton, who is suddenly stuck being a middle child (I know how that stinks!) and he's jealous of both Brenna (for being older and having more priveleges) and also the twins (for being tiny and getting lots of attention.)  He is in a pretty much constant state of jealousness right now, and he can't decide whether he wants to be grown and get to go places and do things like his big sister, or sit on my lap and be snuggled like the babies. 
Watching them all go through this, I keep flashing back to my own childhood and episodes of sibling rivalry.  Betsy was *ahem!* EIGHT years older than me (and today's her birthday, not that I would harrass her about her age or anything!) and she always got to do all the cool stuff.  Betsy got to stay up till ten watching Masterpiece Theater with Mom and Dad.  I was SO JEALOUS of this, because Mom and Dad and Bets all acted like Masterpiece Theater was the best thing EVER.  I begged for years to be able to watch it with them.  Finally, when I was, I dunno, maybe eleven or so, they let me watch it with them and stay up late.  I remember it was "Disraeli."  I didn't understand a dadgummed thing that was going on, I was bored to death, and I was so confused as to why this was supposed to be so great.  But I watched it, and I was proud as punch that I got to while David had to go to bed!  I told all my friends about watching "Disraeli" and tried to act like I completely got it and it was so awesome. 
Betsy also went through a phase of drinking iced tea, it was that instant stuff what you mix up with a spoon.  No one would let me drink it.  I WANTED ICED TEA.  Finally one day, they let me have some.  Let me tell you, that right there was some nasty crap!  Little brown specks floating around in my drink cuz I didn't stir it up enough, fake lemon taste...EW!  But I can remember how I held my glass and how important and cool I thought I was cuz I was drinking it, because BETSY drank that stuff. 
Meanwhile, I learned later on, Betsy is looking at me and hating me cuz Mom and Dad pay me all the attention, buy me all the clothes, call me "pretty" when Betsy always gets called "smart," etc... I was busy wanting to BE her and she was busy wanting to muzzle me and put me in a closet. 
When I was in my late teens, I went for a visit to Betsy's, who was now married, had kids, and lived in Georgia.  Her husband at the time, whom I shall here refer to as "Lucifer," wanted to take us to dinner at a nice Japanese restaurant.  He told us to "look nice."  Well, I didn't have anything with me to wear but either jeans and tee-shirts, or a dress.  So I put on a dress.  Betsy meanwhile put on normal eating out clothes, a nicer top with jeans, if I remember correctly.  But then when she saw me in the dress, she went and switched to a dress.  I can't remember now exactly how it went, but I DO remember that we both ended up changing clothes about 5 times apiece, and we were laughing hysterically about it, but it was clear that there was STILL some sibling rivalry going on. 
David and I, on the other hand, were just three years apart in age, and so we had a relationship more similar to what the twins have now.  He was the absolute bane of my existence.  I hated the way he chewed his Cap'n Crunch.  I hated the way he breathed.  I hated the way when he got hot, the only place he got sweaty was on the tip of his nose, and there were always about 8 little sweat beads right there.  I hated the way he told on me for EVERYTHING I ever did, and half the time he made the stuff up.  He fell into the pond?  I THREW him in.  He didn't like the way we were playing a game?  He told Mom I cheated and she made us both come inside.  I let him know how much I hated him by pounding on him every chance I got.  He was smaller and younger and the only way he could fight back was to throw himself down on the ground or couch or wherever and put his feet up and kick me. 
All the sudden, one day, he was bigger than me.  I remember being 16 and having my first car, and I wanted to wash it on the carport, but David wanted to play basketball on the carport, and he didn't want it wet.  I went out and got all my stuff ready and turned on the hose.  But the jolly white giant went out and held the hose so it was kinked, so I couldn't use it.  I screamed, I fought, I tried to pry it out of his hands, but there was no getting that hose.  I was NOT gonna wash my car, and there was no way around it.  Dad had warned me that one day he was gonna be bigger than me, and the day had come.  It was so FRUSTRATING!
Never had too much sibling rivalry with Gabe, cuz he was so much younger than the rest of us.  He just annoyed us to pieces.  He's closer in age to David, so I think they had more of the rivalry.  He used to drive us crazy because he was so stinking weirdly smart, so David especially would take great pleasure in messing with his head.  On the way to the District Convention, 4 year old Gabe was reading all the signs, which was just obnoxious cuz 4 yr olds aren't supposed to be able to read like that.  We saw a "Coliseum" sign, and he was like "'Coliseum!' We're almost there!"  David said "It's not pronounced 'coliseum,' Gabe.  It's 'co-LIS-ee-um.'  Taken from the Latin 'co-LIS,' meaning 'to gather together' and 'ee-um,' meaning 'Jehovah's Witnesses.'"  "Oooooh," Gabe said, "co-LIS-ee-um!" 
We all fought like cats and dogs, tried to make each-other look bad, etc... but then again, if I needed a giant bug killed in my room, David would do it.  When he wasn't being the bane of my existence, he was my partner in crime, and my best bud.  He helped me dig up worms for bait when my parents went fishing, helped me build forts, we made "money" together by cutting out paper, coloring it green, crumpling it up and getting it wet, and laying it sopping wet over his lamp to dry to give it the right texture.  He went with me on all my walks to the "Cheek-o-mart" after school to buy junk food.  He was my sicko partner when we found the frozen squirrel and threw it and skipped it across the frozen creek.  Betsy let me borrow her clothes, took me on hikes where we played our Chariots of Fire game that we made up ourselves, took me to Perkins library to do my homework, let me tag along as chaperone on all her dates, and gave me all the really important advice I needed as I grew up, cuz she had just gone through everything a few years ahead of me.  So I hope that's how it'll work out for my kids, and I tell them that all the time.  When Brenna and Dalton fight, I remind them of how much I used to think I hated their Uncle David, and now I don't get to see him near enough and miss him so badly, and one day they're gonna realize that underneath all that hatred, they're really best friends.  And if Weston and Aila survive through their toddlerhood and stop pulling each-other's hair and knocking each-other down, I hope one day they'll realize that too.

12 comments:

  1. Shelly - I could go on and on about sibling rivalry. My older sister is 2 years older than me - which of course meant constant competition, but my younger sister is 5 years younger than me, so of course my older sister and I were always ganging up on her and leaving her out. I have had HUGE ups and downs with both of them - actually didn't speak with one of them for a year or so. But I am so happy now that I consider both of them REALLY good friends. I love that my older sister is close (especially now that she has a baby!) and we pretty much go to lunch every week. My younger sister is incredibly mature - which is great - because even though she is 5 years younger, I completely consider her an equal and can talk to her about things that I can't talk to anyone else about. Sometimes it takes some serious growing up to realize how precious our siblings are.

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  2. Wow, you just stirred up lots of memories even for me,,, and not just about my own siblings and how they made sure to make up for (from their perspective) the favoritism Mama showed me because I was the baby by persecuting (yes, that is from my perspective) me behind Mama's back, but it also brings back memories of you guys as kids!
    David, or DayDay as he was known then, must have gone through a tattle tell stage. I totally remember one time when he was spending the week at our house, he came inside acting completely indignant and said "Aunt Amy, Zacky is out there playing in the SUNSHINE!!!!!" It was like that was the most horrible, unimaginable thing he had ever seen anyone do, I had to try to explain, without laughing my head off, that I did allow Zack to play in the sun because he wasn't quite so fair skinned as him. So funny!
    And as far as you hating the way David chewed his food..... Well..... Who didn't??? He could literally "bounce" his teeth on a single bite of some food he didn't like (which was most things) for hours, all the while trying ever so hard not to let it touch the inside of his mouth! Thirty-five years later I still crack up when I think about it. But what a little cutie pie he was and what a good kid!
    And as far as Betsy feeling a little sibling rivalry toward you ... Who wouldn't have? She had once been the little darling of the entire family. First child, first grandchild, first great grandchild, and so smart and witty to boot. But then you came along after your mom losing those other babies, and lets face it your we're the ultimate little princess. Your mom treated you like one and you played the part oh so well! You thrived on attention and baby did you get it!!! In fact, and most people who know you probably don't know this (hahahahahahaha), it's just possible that the attention addiction is a lifelong condition!!
    The great part about it all is that your siblings love you and always thought you were as wonderful as the rest of us did (and do!),

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  3. What, ME?!?! Love attention?!?! You must be kidding!! LOL! Yeah, I definetely loved attention, Betsy thrived on her smarty-pants role, David was always a goody-two-shoes. I guess in every family, the kids each have a 'role' they play. Just glad that when we grow up, we all learn to love each-other and realize just how important siblings are in your life. Like Sara said, sometimes it takes awhile to realize how important those relationships are!

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  4. Ahhh...siblings...

    I guess Weston & Aila will be the ultimate siblings, being exactly the same age, and incredibly different. As both you & I have been uber-careful to show them the same amount of attention, & to appreciate them both as individuals, there's an excellent chance that they will BOTH think that we always liked the other one better.

    You SO can't win with this!

    They will like each other eventually. If I can get past you being the child our parents waited EIGHT LONG YEARS for(!) and the pretty, feminine one to boot, they'll forgive each other for being a. the little sweet quiet one and b. the hungry hoss.

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    1. I just hope it doesn't change one day when they're like teenagers and then suddenly Aila becomes the hungry hoss, cuz that would really not be good! Lol!

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  5. I LOVE reading your blog Shelly. You know what I took away from this post??? "Note to self....moving forward refer to Dave solely as the jolly while giant!!"

    THANK YOU Shelly! :)

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    1. Hahaha! I'm sure he'll appreciate that! As far as I know, he hasn't read this yet... I think he'd also like it if you called him "Day-day."

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    2. I was protesting in silence.

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    3. Well if you get mad enough, you could always throw yourself down, put your feet up, and kick me! Lol!!!

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  6. What great memories Shelly. Beleive it or not my children also had sibling rivalry. And sometimes still do. LOL. But as Sara said they have come to appreciate ecah other and would be there for each other when needed.

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