I’m not even sure our family knows what normal is, but we seem to have returned to it.
Thank you all for your prayers and messages (whether left here or emailed to me) and I’m sorry I didn’t reply to everyone. Kiddo#1 did finally get cleared to leave the hospital yesterday, and now he’s home and we’re still in process of making adjustments to accommodate for him. The house is four times louder with him home than without. It’s not just him making the noise; it’s that he incites the others to make noise too.
(BTW, please come back again tomorrow or Monday because I have some exciting stuff to share.)
Kiddo#2 and Kiddo#3 were pleased when I told them #1 would be returning home, and they were all bubbly and friendly. I knew that wouldn’t last, and sure enough, within a few hours Kiddo#3 was giving a great and mighty push-back reaction.
In the course of an hour, he’d pulled his sister’s hair twice, thrown the whiffle ball into the woods, had a screaming fight with me, and smashed his sister in the face with a wooden block. It didn’t matter what the consequences were: he refused to behave. When his father came home, he escalated it even further.
At first I thought it was the same kind of push-back reaction he’d seen before, that Kiddo#1 had come home and he wanted to make sure everything was still the same so he was going to provoke his brother into a huge fight with him. Except that he knew his older brother could pound him into the dirt if he chose to, so instead he was focusing his ire on his sister.
This morning I woke up and realized, it’s not that. He’s jealous. The kid got to enjoy the full attentions of his sister for nine days, and now she’s playing with Kiddo#1. Feeling shuffled off to the sidelines, Kiddo#3 is taking out his anger on her. If she won’t pay attention to him, he’ll hurt her and make sure she has to.
I’m dealing with that now that it’s identified, but it made me wonder about the larger implications. In a family with two children, they’re guaranteed never to have to share one sibling’s attention with another sibling. In a family with three or more, they can’t always have the attention of the sibling they want.
In a culture where the dominant trend is to have only two children, are we now raising the second generation of individuals who will feel entitled to attention whenever they want it, simply because they seldom experienced having to wait until the end of this game of checkers before they could play?
Clearly not all. (Disclaimer: I spent my first 14 years in a two-child household.) But it made me wonder if some refuse to relinquish the comfort of guaranteed attention when they reach adulthood, much the same as all of us hold onto other childish things. I’ve certainly encountered line-jumpers who act as if they have.
Regardless, he’s home now and we’re looking to return to normal. Thanks again for the prayers and encouragement.
Re-reading this (wanted to point friend to a good description of move/counter-move, remembering only that you had described it somewhere). My eldest learned very early (then 5) that the only way he would get a good turn is to let the youngest (then 2) have her turn first. Even if I said, “Son’s turn” several times, she would keep interrupting. So he told me, “Let her have her turn first.” She got used to it.
He’ll be a great teammate and coworker and husband someday. Meanwhile, now that they are 9 and 12 I have enlisted his help in getting her used to waiting for her turn.
They get plenty of practice taking turns in large groups at school. Back when they started with commercial TV, I even said, “It’s the commercial’s turn.” In small groups, especially family, though, it’s a skill that only one needs to learn.