Owen and James hit each other when angry—sometimes with their hands and sometimes with objects, like their wooden trains. We have a zero-tolerance policy re hitting. They know this but still—still—it’s something we’re working on.
Sophie is old enough to know that hitting is absolutely not allowed. Still, I watch her sometimes, so angry with her brothers. She balls up her fists and shakes—shakes with anger, shakes with the restraint necessary not to hit them.
It can be so hard, being 5 years old and 3 years old, living in the same house.
But as much as they hate, they love. They love. Like patiently help each other across the shake-shake bridge at the park love. And fall on the floor crying if they think we’re leaving one behind love. And get so incredibly excited when the other one gets to put a sticker on his potty chart love.
And then there was Sophie’s love, today.
We’ve been struggling, discipline-wise, with Owen for several weeks now. Punishments simply don’t faze him. We have to work hard to find a consequence that will make him understand the severity of his actions. Most recently, we throw a piece of Halloween candy away for each major infraction (such as hitting). Today, he lost six pieces of candy for various infractions, five at one time (it was a bad one).
Sophie was extremely upset by this (even though half the time she was the one being hit). She couldn’t bear the thought of him losing candy. Whereas a time-out was often plenty enough for her, she didn’t understand that for Owen, it wasn’t.
And so that is how I caught her sneaking some of her own candy, from her own Halloween bag, into Owen’s.
When my three children are angry with each other, the whole world knows it. And yet, like much of life, their love for each other is so much quieter—and so much bigger.
But ultimately, they love.
“The opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference.” —Elie Wiesel