Parenting Possibilities: A Sibling’s Love
A Sibling’s Love
One day I quietly watched my children playing with each other and realized for the first time that they have their own unique form of communication. They have an instinctual knowledge of each other I had not previously been aware of. It is an understanding only a sibling can have, almost as if they can read each other’s minds.
At the moment when I noticed what I now call “brother speak” I began to reminisce about my own sibling and our bond as children. Being the younger of the two, my sister was always there. Her presence infused almost every moment I had in my life at home. It was different for her as she had 3 years enjoying all of my parents’ attention. She easily could have resented my arrival but my parents took a brilliant approach. One my partner and I did with our boys as well. My parents prepared my sister for my arrival by telling her I was a gift for her. That I was her baby too and her role as an older sister was very important.
The plan worked. She gave me tons of attention and in turn I adored her. I have seen old family movies where she is singing and dancing in front of my crib and I am standing up, holding on to the railing shrieking and jumping with delight at the captivating entertainment before me.
As we grew so did our connection. Our love for each other is fierce. We fought as hard as we loved. One day after a particularly loud argument which probably included some pushing and shoving, our Mom marched up the stairs and announced that our punishment for causing such a ruckus was to be separated for the day. Upon this announcement, our fighting immediately stopped. Whatever we were so furious about vanished and we fell into each other’s arms in tears at the thought of being separated. Our Mother was shocked by the emotion as she thought a break from each other would be a welcome relief.
A very similar incident occurred with my boys just the other day. They were happily playing outside and then the tide began to turn. Our five year old stormed in the house in tears. His beloved older brother had shot a nerf dart right at him and it almost hit his eye. Our nine year old clambered in the house after him to defend his decision to take the shot as he felt that his brother was cheating and had lied to him.
I went into safety mode and decided the best thing to do was to separate them until things had cooled down. When our little guy heard me declare my decision, his tears began to pour again and his anger was now turned on me. I looked at my sad and angry son with confusion and asked him “why would you want to play with someone that just shot you? If you take a break from him, he will learn that it’s not o.k. to hurt you.” My little guy yelled through his sobs back at me “now you have just made things worse mama! I just wanted him to learn his lesson but if I can’t play with him then I will be even more sad.”
Thinking about my own similar experience, I couldn’t help but smile. Knowing how close my children are to each other is one of the aspects of parenting I treasure. It is not always easy and fights break out all the time. Often I feel like a frustrated referee.
What makes it all worth it are those moments of peace when I watch them at play fully enjoying each other. It’s magical to me. I feel gratitude beyond measure that I am a witness to their bond and that I had it with my own sibling as a child.
My sister and I are now busy with our own families, work, our homes and time spent just the two of us is precious and hard to come by. Six years ago we began an annual ritual to have a summer retreat weekend together. Between activities we relax over long meals pouring out stories about our lives, our families our aspirations and frustrations. Our Mom has told us how much it means to her that we have remained bonded as adults. I wish with every bone in my body that no matter how far away my children go in life, they will always keep each other close in their hearts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shana Hiranandani shares a home with her two boys, her partner of 12 years, a big dog and a small cat in the Pioneer Valley of Western MA. Shana earned a B.A. in Psychology from UMass Amherst and a M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Antioch New England College. Shana is a Board Certified Life and Career Coach, offering consultations from her office in Florence, MA. Her monthly column offers parenting perspectives from a Jewish-Indian-American, 2-mommy household.