I got this text from my 17 year old yesterday.
Sooooo…. sometimes there is a bit of a, say, division, between the two age groups of children in the house.
We’ve got the teens on one side, and the toddler/preschooler on the other.
No one has to share a room with anyone, which has probably saved lives by this point.
But what do I do, as a mom of all these *ahem* angels…. to help foster relationships? Especially as the older ones seek more time away from home and family? Clearly, if the above text is any indication, there is room for improvement.
Well, the one thing I swore I would never do was FORCE the older ones to babysit the little ones. As in, no one is going to have to skip a practice or game, or have to cancel plans of their own to watch some children that they did not bring into this world. Children who are probably very grateful that they are not being forced into the care of a less than thrilled older sibling.
I know, because I was that older sibling who HATED babysitting for my mother. DESPISED the three demon children from hell that I seemed to get stuck with when she had to go to work and dad wasn’t home yet. I swore, with all the conviction a 15 year old can have, that I would NEVER be crazy enough to have something so horrible as a child of my own. Now, I wasn’t being forced to give up anything to babysit, I really had no life so I’m sure my parents didn’t see the problem. And there should NOT have been a problem, except I was a teenager so of course EVERYTHING was a problem.
Remembering how MEAN I was, or at least how mean I felt, is the biggest reason I haven’t ever pushed the envelope and insisted the older ones take a bigger role in helping with the little ones. I really, really don’t want them to be mean. I want them to love each other, not feel forced to spend time together.
And they do help me a lot by doing things with the younger ones when we are all home together. Just playing with them for 30 minutes while I am making dinner, or cleaning up is a HUGE help. And I have had them babysit for a quick run to the store. Oh, and my oldest actually watched the kids for me last week when my husband and I went out of a real date, the first alone together in probably a year…. but I cleared it with her in advance and made sure she had no plans, and was ok with it. This is my way of trying to ensure they like each other and don’t resent the younger ones at all.
But the age difference means that the little ones sometimes become annoying when they are in “play” mode, and the older kids are NOT. Sometimes they don’t want a little kid barging into their room, screaming and throwing stuffed animals at them. Sometimes they get sick of the repetitive games that toddlers seem to crave. Sometimes they want the little chatterbox next to them to just…..stop chattering.
And then my oldest comes to me, as she has several times lately, and asks if the baby is even going to remember her once she goes to college. “Is she even going to know who I am?”. I then remind her that college is not in outer space, and she will still be coming home for holidays, vacations, summer…. and we will be face timing like no tomorrow. I like that she is worried about this. I want them to be close, but I also know it will probably take a lot of years before they start to have things in common, and a desire to be friends and not just sisters.
We deal with issues still, like when the 13 year old feels slighted, and believes that I must love the younger ones more than him because of the time I spend with them. He of course doesn’t remember being their age and getting ALL my attention because there wasn’t an older brother around complaining about it. I try to explain that he should not be jealous of the time I spend wiping butts, giving baths, dressing, and feeding the kids….. because I really don’t think he’d still want me doing those things for him. I mean, hey, if that’s what I need to do to PROVE my love….but I just don’t think it would look very good…..
At the end of the day, I have hope. Because the daughters enjoy each others company now, and every day is another day of bonding and memory making. They painted toe nails together today. The two boys have a secret handshake/hug they do every night, and end it with one of them saying “Best Friends….” and the other finishes “….Forever.”
And because I catch them having moments like this all the time, proof that they love each other, even if they don’t always LIKE each other.