Sibling Relationships: It’s Complicated.

You know, like the Facebook relationship status? Man, I’m so funny.

One of my main reasons for wanting multiple children was so that they always had someone to play with . A companion who always had their back, who knew them better than their friends. There was just one problem with this theory.

Frequently, siblings want to kill each other.

Observe the demonic face in he background.

Observe the demonic face in the background.

I should have known, really. I have a sister myself, who is three years younger than me. I have great memories of playing games and spending time together. But I can also remember the time she pushed me and I nearly rendered myself infertile on a fan. And all of the mean notes I used to send her when we’d had an argument.

Ah, good times.

Overall though, we loved each other and have a close relationship as adults. That is what gets me through when I’m refereeing arguments, detaching kids from other kids’ hair and assisting with game negotiation.

Things can only get better, right?

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A lot of imaginary games are played in our house. Even Squeak has had a costume-related revelation, and often brings me a dress or alien hamster outfit to put on her. Big Girl is the main protagonist, though. She doesn’t really need any participants when she is playing one of her imaginary games. She throws on a costume and proceeds to instruct everyone to do as she decrees. So she will say, “Mum, pretend you’re a witch and I’m a superhero, and you’re trying to beat me, but you can’t because I’ve got super flying powers, and you say, ‘I’m going to put a spell on you and turn you into a frog!'”

Make no mistake, though. This is not an invitation to actually play the game. Big Girl thinks of me more as a vehicle for her ideas. All she wants me to do at this point is repeat my line, verbatim, so she can get on with the real playing. Once I have spoken, she will go off and act out that part. Alone. Then she will come back, and tell me what to say next. Seems like a pretty boring way to do things to me, but hey, what do I know?

Sometimes, this works well when she applies it to games she plays with Little Girl. As she’s only three, she has times when she is fairly easy to mould. She will occasionally follow Big Girl’s instructions to the letter, and they will have a blast in an imaginary world. It’s a beautiful moment.

Note the word ‘moment,’ that I used there. Because more often, this happens:

Big Girl: “Hey LG, pretend you’re a fairy who lost her wings, and you are really really sad, and a monster took them, and I’m the boss fairy, and you come and ask me to help you get your wings back.” (Yes, she’s always that long-winded and no, she doesn’t take a breath.)

Little Girl: “Meow.”

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Big Girl: “No, you’re not a cat, you’re a fairy who’s lost her wings, and…”

Little Girl: “Meow.”

Big Girl: “Muuuuuuum!”

Bliss.

Siblings bicker. That is a fact. You can’t spend most of your life with a person and remember not to sweat the small stuff. I regularly hear such complaints as, “Muuum, Big Girl won’t lick my toe!” or “Little Girl’s wearing my shoes backwards!” It can get a bit repetitive.

The other day, though, Big Girl came to us with an issue that has never come up before. I didn’t think there were many new ones left.

I was wrong.

She came into the kitchen with an irritated look on her face. This is definitely not new at the moment. A long school term plus Christmas excitement has left Big Girl a little… edgy, shall we say.

“Little Girl is being really mean to me right now!” she said grumpily.

“Why, what’s the matter?” Mark asked.

“She told me the shadow of my foot didn’t look like a cashew!”

A bit of a heads up for you: When your kid is pissed off, laughing in her face does not help. Even if it’s really funny.

Another thing siblings love to do is to disagree. Especially if it’s for no reason. If one wants to play catch, then the other will want to play football. If one wants to watch Wreck It Ralph, then the other wants to watch Despicable Me. I think sometimes, kids just fancy an argument. You can tell that neither is particularly attached to their choice. In fact, they might even prefer the other’s idea. But the world will end before they admit it.

Despite all that, there is one thing they will always agree on.

They both want the red crayon. Right now.

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I must mention the ultimate sibling battle. The battle of all battles. The one they spend years preparing for, and spend most of their time fighting.

It is: The Battle For Attention.

They all want to win it. Some of their favourite tactics include:

1. Squeezing onto a parent’s lap if another sibling is having a cuddle.

2. Beginning to speak at the top of their voices as soon as one of their siblings starts to talk.

3. Needing to tell me something ‘urgently important’ as soon as the lights go out for bedtime.

I’m sure there’s more. Many more. Some I haven’t even discovered yet. I juggle my time as best as I can between the three of them, but no matter what attention they’ve had, they always want more.

Squeak is preparing to join the gang now. Not that she has a clue what they’re doing, but she’ll plop herself down in the thick of it anyway. Her main version of ‘joining in’ at the moment is to reach for whatever toy one of her sisters is holding and say, “Der ya go!” over and over again until they give in. Being stubborn as hell, they rarely do, which results in a loud Squeaktrum. Like, the kind of loud people call Environmental Health about.

Her other favourite activities include knocking down towers (the taller the better), and belly-flopping on anyone dumb enough to lie down on the floor.

It’s a laugh a minute!

I have to admit though, when I see them like this:

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It’s all worth it.

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