Sibling Rivalry's Happy Ending
Maybe I should back up. See, last Saturday afternoon, my daughter Ashleigh had organized a group of friends to attend a showing of Iron Man II. Just to clarify, this would be eight of her high school senior friends.
Since the show they were attending started fairly late, she'd invited everyone over a few hours beforehand to hang out and eat pizza. The house was soon filled with laughing, chattering seniors while freshman baby brother Joshua said a quick hello and resumed playing his X-Box game.
It wasn't long before a few of the boys from the group drifted into the family room to witness Josh shooting his yucky weapons at icky bad guys. He invited them to join him in the game and soon a small cluster of boys was either wielding yucky weapons or merely enjoying the icky show.
In the midst of one battle, I overheard this:
"Hey you know what, Josh? You should come with us to the movies."
"Yeah, Josh is cool, why don't you come Josh?"
"You wanna come with us?"
I was working in my home office so while I could hear the discussion, I unfortunately didn't have the luxury of observing the shocked play of emotions that must have danced their way across my daughter's face as her thought process churned due to this unexpected shift in the conversation.
Do I look like a complete jerk and say, no WAY is my baby brother coming along with me and my friends?
Will Josh get the mental vibe I'm sending him right now and just politely decline the offer? Josh? Josh?!
Uh, no. No such vibe made it past that sweet baby brother smile and gracious, "Sure! That'd be great, guys."
And so it came to pass that our freshman son left with the group of seniors to attend the 9:05 p.m. showing of Iron Man II. And despite one glitch when Ashleigh felt forced to give Josh a meaningful big sister glare, relegating him to the end of the row when she suspected he was trying to plunk himself in the middle of the group as they filed to their seats, she was actually a pretty good sport about the whole thing.
I couldn't help but think back on their childhood sibling rivalry stage. It was actually a rather brief phase in the whole scheme of things, although it didn’t seem like it at the time. For some reason, I had absolutely zero tolerance for any type of sibling rivalry behavior. There was no name calling and no physical stuff. Period. And whether it's bad or good, I never subscribed to the concept of "let them work it out, as long as no blood is drawn."
Nope, the minute I saw or heard a situation beginning to degenerate, I would take immediate action. Sometimes I would put them to work doing chores in separate areas of the house. Occasionally, I would sit them both down and have them play something I called "The Compliment Game."
They would have to give each other three genuine compliments concerning something they loved about the other. And it could never be something superficial such as, "I like your shirt." After a few instances of implementing this "game," one or the other would wail, "No, not compliments AGAIN!" But almost inevitably they would end up giggling by the time they were done.
Don't get me wrong, they still have their occasional moments. "He's always hogging the TV." "She's still on the computer mom!" But for the most part, we've moved into new territory. And it's been pretty cool watching their progression from loving toddlers, to sibling rivals and now to witness them becoming true friends.