Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sibling Dynamics

The other day there was a commotion in the playroom. Not that this is a rare occurrence in our house, but bear with me. I could hear Nathan pleading with Grace to get off of him. "Come on Grace! Please get off!" and a moment later, "Grace! Leave me alone!" and yet again, "Please get off me, Grace!" I was sitting there wondering why Nathan (who outweighs Grace by about 25 lbs) didn't just move or get up. When I went to investigate, I realized his dilemma: Gracie was following him around. Wherever he sat, she got right next to him and put her feet in his face. Not just on him, but in his face. He would sit up and she was right there. He would move across the room and she was as tight as his shadow. Let me tell you from experience: Gracie's feet are no picnic to have in your face. She may be 2, but her feet smell about 7.

I had a hard time holding in the laughter as I made her quit harassing her brother. It was a mighty effort, but I did it. I realized in that moment that Grace is the instigator in their relationship. That is not to say that Nathan never bothers her just for the sake of being obnoxious, but he would really rather just play and not fight. Gracie is always ready (and willing) for a fight. She will sit there and poke him in the arm with her finger until he practically comes apart at the seams. The traditional roles of older and younger siblings (or more specifically big brothers and little sisters) have been reversed with my children it seems.

Patrick lived to push my buttons and to get me in as much trouble as humanly possible when we were children. I always seemed to be the one who got caught carrying out his harebrained schemes as he sat smugly by and watched it all unfold before his eyes. His 2 additional years of experience put him in a position of power over me and he used it to his advantage. I fully expected this sort of dynamic between my own children who are right at 3 years apart, but have slowly come to see that their relationship (at least for now) is completely different from the one I had with their uncle.

Grace will do anything to get a rise out of Nathan. She is at the age where she does things repetitiously anyway, and add to that her propensity (and glee) for bothering the snot out of Nathan and you have a recipe for disaster! I can't decide if I like this part of her personality or not. On one hand, I want her to be assertive with high self-esteem when she grows up. I don't want her to be a doormat for other people....I want her to stand up for herself and be proud of who she is. No problems there. But (and there is always a but) I also want her to be empathetic to the needs and emotions of others and to not think only of herself. I want her to be nurturing and caring. I don't think those characteristics come as easily to her as they do Nathan and it's something that Trevor and I need to encourage and help her develop over time.

But for now, she is 2 (very soon to be 3) and she is all over the place. I just pray every morning that today won't be the day that she causes Nathan to snap....that extra 25 lbs could do some real damage!

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