Wednesday, February 19, 2020

so it begins.

On Sunday evening Mabel was playing with her toy kitchen, Clarke was on the floor nearby, and T & I were cooking and cleaning in the kitchen.

All of a sudden I heard Clarke crying his, "I'm hurt!" cry. (Yes, there are different kinds of cries and I recognize them all.) I spun around and saw Mabel shutting the door of her kitchen on Clarke's hand (dude can't crawl but he manages to get around quickly). I yelled, "Mabel! Stop!" and ran over to scoop Clarke up. As I inspected his fingers to make sure they weren't broken, I told Tony, "She just shut the door on his hand!"

Mabel was looking up at us and said, in a matter of fact (and maybe slightly proud) voice, "His head, too!"

Clarke had already stopped crying so Tony and I worked hard not to burst out laughing. That was when Tony said, "Shit! Look at his face!" Poor Clarke had a red line running down his cheek and a red spot on his head. He also had a diaper full of poop, so T took him to the bedroom to check him over and change his diaper.

I asked Mabel why she closed the door on him (thinking maybe it was an accident), and she said angrily, "He was playin' in my kitchen!"

She followed me into the bedroom and climbed up on the bed beside me while I nursed Clarke. I explained to her in a firm voice that it's not okay to hurt her brother, that she should tell him when she doesn't like what he's doing, and she can tell us too so we can help. Then I softened a little and explained that she's the big sister and he thinks she's cool and that her toys are cool and wants to play with her. I told her that it would be nice of her to play with him and share her toys sometimes, but she doesn't have to all the time.

I also told Clarke that if he wants to play with his sister's toys, he should ask first.*

Mabel leaned over and kissed Clarke, saying, "Sorry, Didi." Then she "read" us a story (looking at an old greeting card from a friend that she had been carrying around all afternoon): "My brother was playin' in me kitchen and I hurt him and said I'm sorry..."

I looked at T and smiled, "So it begins. There will be a lot more of this in our future—the good and the bad."

Notice that Mabel can play with Clarke's toys? ;) She often says, "He share with me!"

Do you have any tips for parenting siblings?

*I realize that Clarke can't talk yet and won't understand when Mabel tells him to stop, but he will soon enough. It's important to me that even while they are young, we are modelling the behaviour that we hope to encourage. I also want Mabel to feel respected and see that we are holding Clarke accountable for his actions, just like we do her. Of course, we also explain to her that he's still a baby and doesn't understand yet, but it's our job to teach him.

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