Thursday, 20 January 2011

Sibling Rivalry

There is Rivalry, there is Sibling Rivalry, and then there is TWIN Sibling Rivalry.

Despite being a fairly old (and feeling it now!) hand at this parenting business, the strength, depth and emotional energy invested in the rivalry between my twins never ceases to stun me. Don't get me wrong, they love each other to bits, and in fact are probably closer than many sets of fraternal twins but born of that closeness and intimacy is this effervescent, almost explosive competitive urge that exists between them.

In September, we asked a great deal from them. They moved house, moved from Nursery School to Big School (and a new big school at that) and gained their own bedroom each for the first time. The house move was fine, incredibly positive and enthusiastic about most things they took that in their stride. The separate room issue wasn't in fact an issue after all. Separate classes at school has proved a little more problematic though, and curiously not for the obvious reason! Yes, they do indeed miss each other - for the first few weeks they would peer through the glass of the door linking both Reception classes and occasionally burst through for a cuddle. They play together most of the time at playtime, although our daughter is making a few tentative friendships much to her twin brother's disgust! What surprised me was the nature of the BIG issue about being separated at school!
They are both incredibly concerned that they might be missing out on something the other is doing!

Obvious really, and I should have twigged that one I guess, but I was thinking more needy, cosy emotional thoughts rather than harsh, bare faced competitive "my day was better than your day" stuff and "our story was absolutely the best too!" Even after over a term they compare notes first thing after school and God help the innocent teacher who has deviated from the identical parallel class lesson plan - be sure you will be found out and reported! They are currently learning about Space, an exciting topic which has totally grabbed K and A. They have raced to learn the planets in order, both pointed out that Pluto is NOT a planet and fought (hard) over who takes which book in to show....

The arguments are wearing, frustrating and continue over everything possible ("My soap has nearly runned out, your's hasn't so you can't have washed properly!"  until bedtime when I don't even ATTEMPT to attain consensus on a story. I just read two, whatever. Separately. With one page turner at a time. Thank you.

But I guess what I find most interesting about their competitiveness is that it is ONLY about the trivial, the mundane, the almost meaningless at times. When it comes to the REAL differences they never, ever comment. I wonder sometimes whether this is because it really doesn't bother them - that A reads well whilst K has barely started, that K used to swim fantastically well whilst A wallowed and splashed - but now he's overtaking her in the physical stakes too - or whether it is because those things are non-negotioable. You cannot argue black is white on something there is little room for opinion on. Subjective topics lend themselves far better to competitive rivalry and useful blame culture opportunities.

But it does interest me a little that there is never any mention of the *real* issues when striving for twin supremacy.

I would think it would be really, really annoying and not a little frustrating to have a twin sibling excel at pretty much everything and we have always made a HUGE effort to praise across the board, for all achievements in all areas with our four, very different children. What I would really, really like to believe is that the reason there has never been any verbal competition on such issues between the children, not even the twins is that we've succeeded. At least a little bit. That the kids are pretty self confident on the whole, and sure of themselves and what they can do and where they are going without endless comparisons between themselves. I would love to believe that, because sometimes this parenting lark is pretty tough and it would really help, quite a lot actually if I thought I was doing something like that well.

I'll hang on to that thought... it's been a tough month.

Linking with-


Monday, 17 January 2011

Thought provoking.....

As we struggle again with Harry and school a friend sent me the link to this... it's very very very thought provoking, a "must watch" .

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Happy New Year!

The new school term began today, a week too early for our liking! I always find it so bizarre that the one holiday when there is plenty going on, with brand new entertainment for the children is always the shortest break of the school year. Our four are exhausted, and need a week post-festivities to sleep and recover, and they are not the only ones since I am stuck yet again in a cycle of insomnia partially fuelled by K's current inability to sleep more than two hours in one go. You would really think by now, after 13+ years of motherhood (yes, I really AM that old!) that broken nights would be a piece of cake, something so second nature I would be able to sleep anywhere. The irony is that Richard CAN and DOES fall asleep like that whilst it is me who is woken countless times each night!

Admittedly we have had some variety over the years... reflux being the biggest sleep stealer of course. Tube feeds, venting tubes and medication-giving took its turn and hysterical screaming from H who would insist every night "I'm not tired and I'm NOT going to bed" until 1am. Or at least at 1am I eventually gave in and he crawled into our bed and asleep or not he was still enough for me to grab a few hours myself before the screaming started again. The award for most original reason for not needing to go to bed has to go to A who recently informed us he wasn't tired at all, and that his eyelids were "just resting"! Chronic sleep deprivation doesn't get easier though, the cotton wooly feeling in my head on the bad days makes me long for my once-sharp mind. I have forgotten or somehow lost the ability to fall asleep and remain asleep all night - even when the children surprise me by doing so! When recently signing up for an ADHD parenting course I wryly asked the  administrator if there was a module on coping with Extreme Sleep Deprivation. It isn't a form of torture for nothing.

So today all four returned to school and the mental olympics required for the past two and a half weeks are once again confined to mornings and evenings only- and I can give in to the cotton wool mush in my head until the coffee kicks in without constantly wondering what son number two will get up to next. His latest trick is running off - I say latest but in fact this is not new, just revisited but this time with a little more determination on his part. It scares me silly, but when I have the younger two with me also all I can do is stand still and hope he will return. he usually does however and thankfully so far agrees to wear the ID tag I bought him when out and about.

So it was with some trepidation that I went to collect him from school at 3.15pm today. Would he have run off at school or managed to stay the course with no meltdown? His one-to-one support brought him out to me and informed me he had, on the whole had a good day. "Good" allowed for a lesson refusal, classroom outburst and general bolshy pre-teen behaviour, but that is as "good" as it gets right now. I had to laugh though... her parting comment (and I know her well now, and took no offence) was "I don't know how you manage!". As I watched him crawling on his tummy under the metal fencing around the restricted area currently in his playground, below the KEEP OUT sign I had to smile. I didn't know there was a choice!!

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