Tag Archives: siblings

Siblings – a link to the past

Something strange has been happening in my house for the past few weeks. The kids have been getting along.

I know, weird, right?

On a recent afternoon, DQ had just finished asking me if she could bring Taz along with her some of the times she went out to hang with her friends. The two have never been known for getting along. DQ is usually bossy and mean to her 12-year-old brother. Taz, in return is generally a tease and nuisance to his 15-year-old sister. But now? The sibling bond has been holding fast. I couldn’t help questioning DQ about the sudden shift in their sibling relationship.

“Do you think it’s because the two of you got some time apart from each other?” I asked her, referring to Taz’ recent solo visit with their dad. She had chosen not to visit their dad for two reasons – because she had just moved back home after living there for a month and a half, and because it gave Taz a chance to hang out with their dad all by himself. At least those were the reasons she gave me. I had a hunch the biggest reason for staying home was to hang out with the guy she was dating.

“I guess,” she answered. “But I think it’s more than that. I guess I just keep forgetting that he’s going through all the same stuff I’m going through.”

And suddenly, I understood.

I have two sisters I grew up with. My sister, Melissa, is only a year younger than me, and we shared a room. My youngest sister, Heather, is five years younger than me – which isn’t a lot now, but felt like decades when we were younger. Growing up, we had our fair share of fights. I mastered the fine art of pinching Melissa so I could leave purple marks but not draw blood. And Melissa was a pro at pulling my long hair. But both of us would tag team Heather, ganging up on her because she was always getting in our way.

I was jealous of Melissa growing up. She had a lot more friends than I did, and was a lot prettier. She spent a lot of her time hanging out at other people’s houses since she was always invited out. I enjoyed staying home in my room, reading a book. She joined the cheerleading team and ran for track. I imagined secret passageways in my bedroom, leading to magical lands where no one could find me. She was tall and slender, I was short and pudgy. She was clean, I was messy. We were night and day, black and white, oil and water.

And despite all that, we were also the best of friends.

At night we’d lie awake while I told her made-up stories using shadow puppets. On long car rides, we held performances of every single song we knew while riding in the back seat. When our parents got into the occasional fight, we were there to reassure each other that we’d stand together through the divorce (my parents just celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary). And while we could argue like it was nobody’s business, we were also each other’s strongest allies. I knew all her secrets, and she knew mine. We held a million of them from our parents, covered for each other in times of trouble, and had someone to discuss all the weird stuff that was going on with us as we grew into our awkward teenage selves.

And now, as adults, we’ve all come into our own. We have our own lives, our own friends, our own accomplishments and struggles. And we’re all really good friends – even the “annoying” one (who ended up not being so annoying after all).

sisters

We also hold a bond that no one else could ever understand. We share the same history, come from the same mold, and were raised the same way. It’s hard to think about the time in the future when our parents are no longer around. But when that happens, my sisters and I will still have each other. We are each other’s link to a story no one else shares – and no one can take that away from us.

Taz and DQ have the same bond. Through all the changes, the one thing that has been constant is the common link they share to a history all their own. They may resort back to their fighting days. They may swear in their childhood that they hate each other. Or who knows, they may even remain friends from here on out. Regardless of how these younger days play out, they will still hold the keys to our past when I am no longer here. And no one can take that away from them.

This article will appear in the Press Democrat on Friday, May 3

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Sibling Rivalry, Sibling Bond

This last week, DQ was an only child. In a household that generally consists of three kids, she was gleeful in telling Mr. W and me that we were finally a “normal” family – one that was made up of just two parents and one adorably sarcastic 13 year old. Mr. W’s son was in Tahoe with his mother. And Taz was at the Ex’s house several hours away. DQ had decided to skip the visit with her dad this time around, and was anticipating a week of peace and quiet from her annoying little brother.

I was looking forward to it as well. Being cooped up in the same house all summer long, DQ and Taz were only inches from literally breaking each other’s necks. They were constantly bickering and purposefully teasing each other to add some excitement to their boredom. And in the end, I was the one that ended up getting annoyed long before either of them did, resulting in a permanent vein taking residence on my temple and a strain in my vocal chords. But they took great pleasure in teasing the holy heck out of each other. Let me tell you, having only one kid who had no one to fight with sounded like a heavenly vacation. I didn’t even mind that our kid-free week was no longer kid-free. With just my fairly well-behaved teen, it would still feel kid-free.

Except that DQ had no one to torment – EXCEPT US.

When the weekend ended, Mr. W and I had to go back to work. DQ was left to sleep in all morning long until she woke up to her quiet house. By the time we came home, she wouldn’t leave our side. Usually she would stay cooped up in her room or plugged into something (iPod, TV, computer – usually all at the same time) on the couch. But this time, it was like she couldn’t get enough of us. At first it was cute. Obviously she had been lonely in the house on her own. But soon, it became apparent what was going on.

She was trying to torture us!

We went to our room to change from our work clothes. Upon re-opening our bedroom door, there she was on the floor, her feet leaning against our door. She followed us down the stairs and ribbed us mercilessly. If we said anything, she turned it into some funny quip at our expense. Settling down for the evening to watch TV, she sat on the couch with us. “I’m not touching you,” she said as she poked her finger at my leg. And the sarcasm! While I generally think of DQ as the funniest person in the world, it was exhausting keeping up with her and her jabs at us. Neither Mr. W nor I were safe as she mercilessly ribbed us.

Towards the end of the week, the teasing and ribbing had ebbed a bit. It was still strange not to have the boys in the house. But the benefit was that the house stayed clean and calm. And DQ and I had enjoyed some much-needed girl time together. But the day finally came when I needed to pick Taz back up.

“Do you miss your brother?” I asked DQ, and she shook her head vehemently.

“No way!” she said. He ironically called a few minutes later and I chatted with him over the phone.

“DQ misses you,” I teased.

“Yeah right,” Taz said. “Fine, let me talk to her,” he said after I insisted it was true. I handed the phone to DQ who rolled her eyes as she took it from me.

“Hello,” she said in a bored voice. And before long, the two of them were catching up on everything that had happened throughout the week while they were away from each other. In fact, they talked for a full 30 minutes before hanging up the phone. And waking up the next day, the two spent the day playing together at the pool and planning some time to play with friends together the rest of the week.

Taz has been back for several days already, and they have been getting along famously ever since. I’m not sure how long it will last, but it’s sweet to see. Before this week, I would have sworn they hated each other. I always told them that one day they’ll be friends when they’re older. But even I had my doubts as they denied that would happen. However, seeing them get along the past few days, it made me aware of the deep bond the two of them share with each other. Their perspective on the events of our life are separate from mine. The divorce, sharing a home with their grandparents, moving into our own place, moving in with Mr. W, issues with their dad, growing up…

When I’m gone, they’ll still have each other. And they’ll be that common link to a family that once went through hell and back to get to the peaceful place we’re at now, and wherever that road leads in the future.

And they’ll be friends. I’m sure of it.

One in the limelight, the other in the shadows

….and mom is the scale to balance it out…

Sometimes one child gets to be in the limelight, and that's when the rivalry starts

As usual, I was checking the Taz’s homework folder this morning 5 minutes before we were supposed to leave for school, just to make sure that he finished all his homework and to sign everything off. Tucked in the corner of the folder was a folded packet of papers that his teacher had addressed to me. Upon opening it, I saw that it was a recommendation that the Taz be tested for the GATE program, the Gifted and Talented Education program for kids who seem to have an advanced grasp on the studies of their age level and are capable of being challenged.

To be nominated for this program by a teacher is a huge deal, needless to say. However, I was careful not to crow about the Taz’s achievement too much once I realized that my daughter had stopped what she was doing and was scrutinizing my reaction. Over the past several years, she had been bugging me to sign her up to be tested for the program. My daughter is smart, definitely smart enough to be a part of the program. Unfortunately, I could never get my timing to coincide with the small window of opportunity to have her tested. So she never took part in it. Basically, I failed as a mother, and she let me know how bitter she was about it.

“None of my teachers ever recommended me for GATE. I guess I’m just stupid,” she muttered in the back seat as we drove to school.

It’s so hard to play the seesaw game when it comes to our kids’ achievements. I could see DQ’s point for being so upset about this. She has always been a good student, and has been quite independent in successfully finishing top notch projects that her teachers rave about. She is the student that teachers love to have. She has incredible organizational skills and manages her time well when it comes to the work she is required to do. She is the kids I can depend on, as can her teachers. The Taz, on the other hand… Well, you’ve read the stories. The kid couldn’t sit still if his life depended on it. He’d rather goof off in class than pay attention to the discussion. He won’t do more than what is required of him. He’s too distracted to listen to instruction, and will sometimes make art projects according to his own decisions rather than what the class is being assigned to do. He rushes all of his work that he turns in. It’s almost always 100% correct – if you can read through the chicken scratch. And it has come to the teacher’s and my attention that a lot of it is that the Taz already knows everything they are being taught (a fact the Taz laments to me as he does his homework in 5 minutes tops).

Thing is, the Taz is incredibly smart. And so is DQ. But they are bright in totally different ways. And they have very different gifts when it comes to their talents. As their parent, I am caught in the middle as I rave about each of their achievements. If I commend one child too heavily on one subject, the other gets bent out of shape. In this instance, I found myself reining in the excitement I felt about the Taz being nominated for the GATE program, and then downplaying the program to DQ when we were in private so that her feelings might be spared a bit. It didn’t work, of course, and I was left feeling like ends had been left undone on both of their parts of the subject.

Do you have two very different kids who excel at different things? How do you handle sibling rivalry?