Saturday, November 22, 2008

Think For Yourself

Both of my boys have been sick multiple times the last few weeks. Colds. Croup. Stomach bugs. Sore throats. Coughs. You name it, I think they've had it. So, I decided it might be in my best interest, and theirs, to give them Airborne children's lozenges to try and boost their immunity and ward off a few of these things. Doing so, led to a surprising, but apparently much needed lesson in motivating my children and understanding sibling dynamics.

As anyone who has read my blog for any time knows, I am an only child. Managing the sibling relationship is really an interesting experience for me and sometimes my methods are heavy-handed or clumsy, I think, despite always being well-intentioned.

Beckett, being the younger brother, wants to emulate everything his big brother does. It's easy to motivate him or encourage him to do almost anything I want by suggesting to him that his brother is doing it, eating something I need or want Beckett to eat, or that his brother will be where I want him to go. I forget sometimes that it will not work in the reverse fashion. Telling Brendan to do something because his baby brother is doing it works great if Brendan perceives the opportunity to be in his advantage or if it involves eating something he likes already. It's not as effective if he can't see the value of performing said task, i.e. doing what I want him to do doesn't result in getting a treat or surprise of some sort or failure to perform result in being punished.

I have trouble with this. In my mind, if your sibling is doing it, why wouldn't you want to do it? Don't you feel left out? It's the never-ceasing sense of loss only children experience, I think. Unaccustomed to sharing and frequently alone if not lonely, the only child has difficulty imagining not wanting to be included.

So, when I offered Brendan his Airborne after his brother had taken his and he refused it, my natural response was, Well, your brother took his and he liked it.

Now, I admit, I'm not fond of the Why-can't-you-be-more-like-your-brother implications of such a statement. But seriously? Why can't you be more like your brother and just politely take your damned medicine without a fight?

Brendan's response to me was one that I absolutely could not argue with. And let me tell you, it's no fun being out logicked by a five-year old. Yet, I am proud of him for his thoughtfulness in responding.

He said, Mom, it's not like we have the same brain! We don't always like the same things.

Well, duh.

Thanks for the reminder, you wee independent cuss. I respect your sense of self.