Parenting Perspectives: Early signs of sibling rivalry popping upI hadn’t realized sibling rivalry could start before one of the siblings could even roll over, but Baby Owen is already tormenting his big sister.
By: Sherri Richards, INFORUM
I hadn’t realized sibling rivalry could start before one of the siblings could even roll over, but Baby Owen is already tormenting his big sister.
“Keep your hands away from me, Owen,” 3-year-old Eve whines as my 4-month-old pulls her hair or grabs her shirt, though unwittingly. His crying fits drive her crazy, too. “He’s hurting my ears,” she’ll yell, hands clasped to either side of her head.
Eve’s been no angel when it comes to little brother, though. She’s taken to balancing toys on his head as he sits in his Bumbo chair, not to mention treating him like a bobble-head doll at times. She also claims his teddy bears and blankets as her own.
Their conflicts make me wonder what things will be like when they’re elementary students and worse, teenagers.
It’s also gotten me thinking about the antics between me and my older brother Larry. (Yes, Sherri and Larry. My parents didn’t think about our two names rhyming when they chose mine.)
Larry is seven years my senior, but the closest to me in age. He was well set in his ways as the youngest when I, my parents’ fourth child and first daughter, arrived.
Mom tells of the first time she brought me to church. As the ladies cooed over her pretty baby, Larry said, in an annoyed tone, “Let’s get out of here.”
There were the two weeks in 1988 when I’m pretty sure he was trying to off me. He tripped me into a sharp edge of a sturdy wooden chair, resulting in a bloody cut to my head and two stitches. Not long after, he let go of my ankles while swinging me around in a circle, catapulting my head into the piano leg. I didn’t get a concussion, but a pretty large goose egg grew out of my forehead.
Throughout childhood he came up with a number of unflattering nicknames for me. The one I remember best, and hated most: “Nanook, the Ice Sherri,” which referenced a television news story WDAY’s John Wheeler did on polar bears in Churchill, Man. Though I don’t remember it, he claims it drove me crazy when he called me “Agnes” after the curly-haired secretary on TV’s “Moonlighting.”
Like Eve, I wasn’t completely innocent, either. There was the time Larry had gotten stitches on his shoulder after a run-in between a snowmobile and a barbed-wire fence. During a spat, I grabbed at the sutures and pulled. I don’t think we ever told Mom I was responsible for the popped stitch.
I can remember more than once our quarrels ending with Mom yelling down the stairs, “What the H-E-double-hockey-sticks is going on down there?”
“Nothing,” we’d reply in unison.
Thankfully we both made it into adulthood, and have stopped tormenting each other. In fact, I stood up for Larry at his 2006 wedding. I dubbed myself his “groomsmaid.”
My hope is Eve and Owen will find their way to a friendship like Larry and I have.
But I know we’ll all have to endure years of teasing and torment first, and hopefully, a minimum number of stitches.
Sherri Richards is mother to a 3-year-old daughter and 4-month old son and is an employee of The Forum.