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Article: Sibling Rivalry

andrea richards

Sibling Rivalry

I consider myself a successful parent if my kid is still alive at the end of the day. That measure may not be low enough now that I have two children, especially since the older one is sometimes downright malicious toward her younger sister. A few weeks ago, I left the two of them alone in the next room thinking all was well-the baby was cooing in her bouncy seat, the toddler playing with a train set-only to re-enter moments later to find the toddler pressing a kitchen whisk as hard as she could into the baby's face. My babe's sweet little nose and chubby little cheek was squished completely to the side, flattened like a bad joke, and, after I wrestled the whisk out of her sister's grasp, she was left with visible indentations from the whisk's wires. I was furious at my two-year-old, who actually had the gall to act surprised when I said, "No," upon discovering the scene; as if in our house it's perfectly normal to assault others with kitchen implements. After checking out the baby and determining she was fine (the lines faded fast), I took the perpetrator aside and we had the following conversation: Me: "How do you think that made her feel? You hurt her." Toddler: No response, refusing to look at me. Me: "That hurt your sister. You can't do that. Do you want to hurt your sister?" Toddler: "No, I don't want to hurt her." Me: Audible sigh of relief. Toddler: "I want to break her." Oh, she wants to break the baby. Well, that's nothing to worry about, right? It pretty much sums up what's been going on at my house for months; I'm just trying to keep the baby from being broken. The rivalry between my kids is totally one sided since a four-month-old isn't much of an opponent; instead, that poor baby has a target on her back. So, thank goodness, it only gets physical when the big one skips a nap or stays up too late. Mostly, the competition comes out as a mental game between the two-year-old and me. "Mama, pick me up!" she'll cry out as soon as she sees me going to pick the baby up. Or, "Mama, I neeeeeeeeeed you," when I start to feed the baby. And apparently sibling rivalry is like a bad penny that keeps coming back to you because the moment I think it's gone, the blood lust returns. This very morning as I was cradling the baby, the toddler made her way over to us and climbed into my arms, putting her head down sweetly on my other shoulder. Her cherubic face was inches away from her baby sister's. As I was about to tear up at this beatific moment, holding the two of them in my arms, the toddler reached over me to slap her sleeping sister in the face. I'm hoping some Depeche Mode will tame this toddler and her "Strangelove. Pick up your baby and toddler these great bundles of joy for a night of joyous silence. They're all they ever wanted and all they've ever needed.

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