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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Are Most Sibling Sets Like Two Peas in a Pod? | Maris Ehlers Photography

It's sibling week on the Maris Ehlers Photography blog.  We have some adorable sibling previews throughout the week, we are promoting a sibling back to school portrait mini session day on August 26th, and well, I have two kids at home, hence who are siblings.  I thought that alone would give me a good excuse to share a parenting moment, so here I go.

No Two Peas in a Pod Here.  More Like A Pea and A Pineapple.

It's amazing to me how different two children can be when they come from the same parents, same environment, and pretty much the same everything, gender aside.  It's like we planted two seeds from the same bag and now we're raising one pea and one pineapple.

For the most part, my son is an easy going, positive soul who loves strangers and connecting with people.  He's sensitive, caring and extremely generous.  He's a little too goofy for some, loves books but doesn't have time to actually READ them, and hates sitting still.  There's just too much going on in the world to sit and watch - he has to be discovering what's going on in order to be happy.  He has a love of learning, but not the kind that comes from a textbook or test.  He is a consummate people pleaser.

My daughter, twenty months younger, is completely different.  So much so it seems that many of our lessons learned with him do not apply to her.  She is fierce. She is competitive. She is an intellect in the traditional sense.  She loves rules, likes routine, demands her fair share (more often than she should), and will never be mistaken for an underdog.  Ever.  Her standards are high, her loyalty great. She has a creative bent to her that is a complete surprise considering the rest of her personality, and I thoroughly delight in it.  She listens.  She remembers.  And oh, she can hold a grudge.

What's fair about Valley Fair? 

Yesterday, plans were made for the two of them to head off to Valley Fair for the day with our summer nanny.  Neither of them have ever gone, so there was much excitement.  When they got up, I told them they each had a list of tasks to complete before leaving.  As usual, I had to work to keep Hunter's eye on the ball, so to speak, but once I got him on track he was amiable and perfectly willing to get his chores done.  He talked the entire time, but he got them done.  Amelia on the other hand, decided to moan, complain, and pretty much refuse from the get go. In response to the request to help pick up toys in the living room?  "That's not mine!" , "He touched it last!", and  "I don't want that up in my room!", and on and on and on.

When her tirade extended into what was for breakfast, where she had to sit to eat breakfast, and the proximity of where brother was eating HIS breakfast, I was at my breaking point and it was just after 8.  I finally sat her down and told her that I loved her but I would not allow her to do this.  I had been trying to cajole her both into getting her work done and in a better mood, but she wasn't responding, so I told her she must do what is expected of her with a happy heart or she wouldn't get to go.  That was met with more crabbiness and attitude.  I gave her the last warning, and then I calmly said "That's it. You're not going."

She heard me, but her behavior just continued on, right in front of me.  I called Hunter over and said "Hunter, you can choose to go to Valley Fair today without your sister, or you can choose to wait and go a different day."  He looked at her (he's scared of her just like we are), looked at me and said "I'd like to go."

The Windshield vs the Rear View Mirror.

It was then that it sunk in.  She wasn't going to ruin it for anyone else, just herself. She was absolutely slack-jawed.  I was met with "I'll stop crying! I'll be nice! Please, Mommy, let me go!".  It was SOOOOO hard not to get her to promise to behave and let her go.

My good friend Cynthia is always telling me to look towards the windshield instead of the rear view mirror, and she's absolutely right.  Make decisions based on what it means for the future instead of reacting to what has just occurred.

I held my breath, I held firm, and I did not let her go.  It was an ugly day.  She cried in her room for over an hour.  I occasionally reached out to her with love, which of course, she rejected.  She eventually came out of her room and through hiccups and sobs started to pick up her things.  She then got out her certificate from Subway for being student of the week, and asked if we could eat there for lunch.  I said we could.  She had to wait while I worked, but at lunchtime we went and had a lovely meal together.  She told me she thought this was much more fun than Valley Fair.  Neither one of us believed her.  The day had gotten much better.

We got home, and at 2 p.m. she asked me when brother would be home.  I told her he would get home after dinner, just in time for soccer.  As you can imagine, wave two hit.  This time she had a fit for less than thirty minutes and suddenly spent, she slept for almost two and a half hours.

When she woke, it was obvious that she got it.  She was pleasant, relaxed and she got ready for her game.  When we met Hunter there, she gave him a hug (this from the child who would not even give him a hug when he left for camp), and didn't complain once when he wanted to share the fun things he did and saw.  It helped that he brought her home a stuffed dolphin of course, but even then she actually gave him a hug and a kiss and told him she missed him.  Was this my daughter?

I know we'll have these moments again.  Probably sooner rather than later.  I honestly think though, that to the best that she could, she actually did learn a lesson and realized that it was her doing and not someone else's that prevented her from experiencing an enjoyable day.

The true windshield moment came when I was putting her to bed last night.  With her sweet little arms around my neck, as we were both starting to doze, she snuggled in a little closer and whispered "I'm sorry, Mama.", and with a sweet kiss fell into her dreams.

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