Friday, May 11, 2007
The Sibling Dynamic
Joshua (3 1/2 years old) was in great spirits all day today. Ari (just over 2 years old) came home from daycare and they were so sweet on each other, you would have thought the whole thing was scripted. He was telling her how much he loved her; she was replying that she loved him too. Cute to the point of sickening.
And then, out of the blue, he had a meltdown. She was playing with her ball, the one with a princess on it. He decided that he wanted it. He tried to take it from her and she held her ground. He fussed and we sided with Ari. We reminded him of all of the other balls in the house, but he wanted the one with the princess. Hers. Go figure.
He whined and he fussed. His good manners were history and he was behaving terribly about the whole thing. At one point, I placed my hands on his shoulders and gave him a very stern but controlled talk. I told him that his behavior was making me mad and that he could either play nicely or go to his room. Still focused on not getting his way, he kept at her to let him have the ball. (I felt like I was dealing with Keyshawn Johnson here.)
And then the moment came. Sternly and simply, his little sister gave him a good talking to. She didn't raise her voice. She kept her cool. She was grace under pressure. "Joshua," she said, making strong eye contact with her brother who was being anything but cool. "Stop crying. You're making daddy sad."
For the briefest of moments, all was quiet. The youngest in the house had just put him in his place. Paige and I were stunned and looking at each other, trying not to laugh, but also loving that we got to watch one of those defining moments in the dynamic of sibling relationships. Of course, she had gotten it wrong. He wasn't making me sad; he was making me mad. He was eventually sent to his room over not much more than rights to a toy that he didn't even know he wanted until he saw her playing with it.
I can't say I blame him much for keeping the bad mood going for a while. He was acting like a baby and received no sympathy from his mother or his father. That was bad enough, but then he got a professional scolding from a girl who didn't even know how to talk not too long ago. I imagine that he was half expecting the family dog to tell him that she was disappointed in him, too.
I hope tomorrow's better for him. We've all had days like that.