My children have an age difference of four years. In addition to this, one has XY chromosomes, the other, XX – that is, the elder one is a boy, the younger one a girl.
“Oh, I am sure they never quarrel” is one of the comments I often come across. And many others to the same effect.
The logic behind these statements is supposedly perfect. The age difference is too much, so my kids are above having sibling fights. Add to that the fact that the genders are different. So the logic is sealed to perfection. According to them, I live in a house, where my two kids usually don’t interact, and when they do, they do it with utmost civility.
Actually, I don’t. Much as I would like some peace at home (‘Shanti Baksh Do’ – something I say all the time), I wouldn’t want to live in a super-civil, unchildlike environment.
So, yes, I have a son and a daughter. They have an age difference of four years. Also, my daughter is an introvert. My son, the complete opposite. I can go on and on about the differences. And boy, do they argue! And quarrel, shout, and complain to me… And have fun together, learn from each other, giggle over things…
Now that we have established the fact that my kids do spar a lot, I come to the point of when do I step in to sort it out.
I read in a book that you are a parent, not an umpire.
While growing up, I lived in a joint family. Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, Cousins – the whole lot. So besides us three siblings, there were many cousins around. The problem with fights with cousins is that the sets of parents are different, and so parents tend to get involved in the tussles too. My mother had a rule – she refused to get involved in any problems among us kids. And she almost always managed to follow this rule.
She has another rule – not to let the problems of grown-ups spill over to the kids. So whatever problems my parents had (or have) with any of the relatives, they ensure that we do not let it affect our relationship with them. More on this some other time.
On to the siblings and their sweet, loud, seemingly-everlasting, fleeting fights.
I have a few ground rules.
1. No hitting – Believe me, it is a problem, despite the age and gender difference. I have to confess though that I have to fight my laughter when I see my daughter giving a hard left-handed (she is a leftie) slap to my son. But control my smiles, I do. No hitting each other.
2. Respect each other’s’ sensibilities – Everyone has some things that make them very upset. It may be a person’s weight issues, and another’s habit of still being a fan of Doraemon. Teasing is fine. Making another person feel embarrassed is not.
3. Share – Not easy to implement. It is easier to give in the temptation of just getting two of everything, when the budget allows. But I refuse to do that. ‘Decide on sharing rules yourself, or I will make a schedule for sharing’, I say. They usually choose to decide themselves.
4. Give space – Just as is the case with us, adults, we have to respect that kids also need their space. Even siblings need to respect the timeout, the other needs once in a while.
5. Respect privacy – Do not read the other’s diary, even if you come across it. Do not peep into that drawing she is making, if she asks you not to. Do not try to listen into the conversation, if he is whispering into the phone.
The rules are actually pretty much as the rules of any relationship should be. Pretty basic. And very important.
Rest of the time, I try to turn a deaf ear to the racket around me. I am rather good at it, if I may say so myself.
After all, right now the daughter is shouting that she wants the iPod NOW, and the son is trying to convince her to let him have it for another half hour. I am staying out of it.
Nimi Says: A mother of two, I am now rediscovering myself through blogging. I am a book lover and blogging has given a new vitality to my reading and writing. I blog at www.NimiArora.com