How do you teach someone to be a good sibling? Your sibling is both the person who you love the most growing up and the person who annoys you the most. You share unique experiences and they are your partner in crime as you become more independent. Like individuals, each sibling relationship is completely unique, and as I see my boys assert themselves more, I just try to guide them to be good brothers to each other.
This has been one crazy and busy summer for us, and for the boys a “traumatic” one. After eight years of living in the same room, we had to split them into two rooms. My oldest is starting Junior high and the schedules will be hectic and very different. For the sake of their sleep, the decision had to be made. It was funny, the first night; everyone was excited to sleep in their own room. The second-day big brother slept in little brother’s room. I remember having a similar experience when my brother and I stopped sharing a room.
I am still trying to process it and honestly, it makes me a little sad. Even as we were rearranging furniture I panicked and wanted them to keep sleeping in the same room. I want them to be close and learn how to get along, and I worried that splitting them up might drive a wedge between them. Thankfully my concerns have been appeased. It seems like the only time they are alone in their own room is to sleep. Otherwise, they are always hanging out in each other’s room doing something. Even when they irritate each other, the separation doesn’t last too long and soon they are back to playing together again.
Getting them to be good sibling in the house is “easy”. Once they go out into the world that is when it gets a little more challenging. This past week my oldest turned 12. For his celebration, he wanted to take some friends to a local amusement park. Once all the plans were made we ended up with 2 neighbors, 2 friends, and little brother, so six kids total. It didn’t take long for me to have to gather all the boys and stress that they must stick together. A couple of them had splintered off and were wondering around. They did pretty well for the rest of the day, besides a wondering kid here and there. They had a blast and we were there until late into the night. They went from the water park to the rides and rode them over and over. It was adorable watching them run down the exit and run back up the line to ride them again. I just sat back and let them do their thing, allowing them to create that unique experience that they can share for the rest of their life and that fortifies their bond. And you know, without Dad in the way.
Once we got back home the insanity continued, and it was 4:00AM when I finally had to call an end to the party. They played video games, ate pizza, goofed around with helium balloons and had several Nerf gun wars. It was enough and time to sleep.
The next day, well the next day there was a pair of tired crabby kids wandering around like zombies in my house. At first, I was concern that fuses might be shorts and it would be a day of fights. To my surprise, even though they bickered more than usual, they got along better than I expected.
My boys are very different people and even though they want to punch each other at least five times a day, I am always stressing to them to be good brothers. They see the differences between them and instead of fighting about them, they are slowly learning how to respect them and appreciate them. It is never perfect and like all of us, they will make mistakes, but as long as they are always there for each other and always have each other’s back, they will be good siblings. Even when they want to kick each other.