As a kid I never understood why mum and dad would get so upset when us kids would fight or be mean to each other. But I get it now. Nothing gets under my skin more than when the kids are niggling at each other, or say something mean or try to get each other in trouble.
Then again, nothing gives me such a warm fuzzy glow as when I see them getting on with each other, helping, being kind or cooperating together.
The happiest sound is of them laughing and playing together... something that has been increasingly rare lately, sad to say.
In fact, Mr G and I have had about enough of all the telling tales, snide remarks, competing and general unkindness that was shooting back and forth between our eldest two.
We have tried to stamp on it by growling, time-outs, confiscating stuff and threatening loss of privileges. The niggling continued unabated.
Finally one evening around bedtime, when Mr G was out, on a burst of inspiration fuelled by frustration, I sat them both down and we had a proper talk about it all.
Dash, Miss Fab thinks you don't like her, is that true?
Miss Fab, see he does like you... but he doesn't like the way you tease him and annoy him when he's doing his own things...
What kind of things does Miss Fab do that annoys you, Dash?
What kind of things does Dash do that hurts your feelings, Miss Fab?
We had a good heart-to-heart. I explained why it is so important for them to be friends... because in the years to come, they will always be brothers and sisters. Friends will come and go, but they'll always have each other.
I told them, One day you will need each other; one day you will want your brother/sister to be able to say nice things about you, not: Nah you don't want to go out with my sister, she's a real pain... or My brother? That jerk? No way, he's a meanie, stay away from him!
They laughed and thought that was funny and we had a hug and a prayer to ask Jesus to help us be kinder to each other and off they went to bed.
A couple of weeks have come and gone since then; some days it's been the same old ruckus, other days I get a glimmer of hope for something better. Like on Sunday morning just gone.
I was lying in bed and I hear them stage whispering in the kitchen, making plans to surprise me with breakfast. They figured out how to get the toaster working and prepared me a feast of jammy toast and juice. They even made some for Scrag.
The sound of their teamwork gave me a warm glow all over (I had to sneak out and take a few pics). Who cares that the kitchen was a bombsite afterwards, or that the toast was burnt?
My favourite bit was hearing you guys working together so well. I love it!
Ahhhh, time for a team hug.
So I guess we'll just keep plugging away, encouraging them when we see the good, expecting nothing less. And keep hoping that over time these kinds of moments become more the rule than the exception.
Do you struggle with this one too? What do you do?