There’s not much sibling rivalry in our home, and I’d like to take credit for that. With a ratio of 2:2, there’s “enough” parenting to go around so that our boys don’t have to compete much for the light of our attention.
But the truth is just as likely that there is a 5 year spread between our children and so they haven’t needed us in the same way at the same time over the years.
Our first-born seemed somewhat indifferent to the arrival of his brother; which is not to say that he didn’t welcome him into our lives, he did, but he just wasn’t a baby gaga kind of kid.
His younger brother, on the other hand, is. He’s begged for a sibling for years; but actually, he’d probably have the harder time sharing us. Whenever his father or I lavished attention on his younger cousins, he was jealous; but not so much of his independent older brother.
Recently, however, I witnessed a startling act of rivalry. Both boys came down with the flu during the Christmas vacation. The youngest first. And in his hours with high fever, he wanted to be on my body like he had as a child. I folded out the futon couch and created a movie theater bed to accommodate us.
As the days progressed, he became too grumpy for cuddling, but he still wanted someone close so I remained a body’s distance from him. When his big brother came stumbling down the stairs the next evening with a sore throat and a high fever of his own, I patted the place between us.
He hesitated; it had been years since he had wanted my bodily comfort; but then surprisingly, he moved to join me.
In that moment, my youngest was completely absorbed in the film we were watching, but as his big brother began to climb onto the futon, he slowly moved his leg across the bed so that it rested on mine–eliminating any space between us.
I chuckled at this dormant sign of rivalry and winked at my husband across the room, as I moved his leg and pulled my oldest beside me.
My stoic first-born had his own heartening display of subtle, sibling rivalry on the day his brother was born. Though he had long called us by our first names, “Casey” and “Kelly,” the moment his brother was born, we became his “Mommy” and “Daddy” ever more.
Recently, he’s been more transparent, saying to his blonde-haired, blue-eyed younger sibling: “You may not be taller, better looking or richer than me,” and then he adds with a smile: “Well, at least not all three.”
Kelly Salasin, January 2013