siblings

Happy Thanksgiving!

I found this in Sophie’s backpack.

my BUVRZ = my brothers
JAZ = James
ON = Owen

“Thanksgiving is the holiday that encompasses all others. All of them … are in one way or another about being thankful.” —Jonathan Safran Foer

Love + Hate

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.

They love.

They hate.

But ultimately, they love.

“The opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference.” —Elie Wiesel

From Owen & James’s Room, 9:07pm

Owen: “Stop petting me! I’m not an animal!”

James: laughing

Owen: “I said stop petting me! I’m playing people! I’m a people! NOT AN AMINAL!”

James: laughing

Owen: “A PEOPLE! WE ARE PLAYING PEOPLE NOW! NOT ANIMALS! STOP PETTING ME!

a moment of silence from both of them

James: crying, and then “Mama!”

“What strange creatures brothers are!” —Jane Austen

A Play Date for Owen and James

Sophie has reached the age where, every single day when I pick her up from school she asks, “Am I going on a play date? Can I have a play date? Is someone coming over? It’s been SO LONG (meaning three days) since I’ve had a friend come over!” and on and on. She goes on play dates now. She has friends over. She loves this.

Of course, the people coming over are her age—her friends. And while she is, honestly, very gracious and patient and sharing with Owen and James, all bets are off when she has a friend over. They scurry up the stairs and shut her bedroom door—no boys allowed. I allow her this, though. For when she plays with her pop beads, for example, with the boys, the game typically involves the beads being tossed about her room. But when she plays pop beads with her friends, for example, without the boys there, she actually gets to make things. She deserves this.

But still, I sometimes feel sorry for James and Owen, left outside a closed door, upset they can’t get in. But a couple weeks ago, they got a surprise—Sophie’s friend Madeleine’s younger brother, Jack, came for a play date, too.

The boys loved it. They loved having someone for themselves.

They also loved that this someone was younger than them (being that they’re the youngest in our house). Owen read books to Jack, over and over, and James tried to give Jack his bottle, over and over.

It almost made me wish they did have a younger sibling to interact with.

Almost.

“The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend.” —Henry David Thoreau

Brothers

I was switching laundry in the basement when I heard yelling—from all the way up in the boys’ bedroom. The boys yell a lot and I’m pretty good at noting the difference between a he-took-my-toy yell and a I’m-hurting-for-real yell. James’s yell became louder and louder so I abandoned the laundry and ran up the (many) stairs and saw this:

Owen wouldn’t let James out.

Now, I felt bad for James, I did, but just look at their faces! I laugh every time I see this picture.

“Siblings that say they never fight are most definitely hiding something.” —Lemony Snicket

The Faces of Siblings

We use Flickr to organize our pictures. But sometimes, Andy uses Picasa as a filter. It has a cool face recognition tool—and lately, it has been mistaking Sophie for James and vice versa again and again.

As shown here.

“A man finds room in the few square inches of his face for the traits of all his ancestors; for the expression of all his history, and his wants.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sophie’s New Trick

Sophie to me, as I’m coming out of the bathroom: “Mom, GUESS WHAT!”

Me: “What?”

Sophie: “I can carry the boys all by myself now.”

Me: “What?”

Sophie: “I can carry the boys all by myself now.”

Me: “You picked up the boys.”

Sophie: “Yes, and I carried them all around the entryway.”

And then she showed me.

Turns out she can pick up one of her brothers and carry him all around the entryway.

(The boys, by the way, are not at all thrilled by her newly acquired skill.)

“At the end of the day, a loving family should find everything forgivable.” —Mark V. Olsen and Will Sheffer