Wow, I collected my 8 year old twins (boy and girl) from school today, just an average Thursday, they were happy playing tig in the school playground as a group, with their friends, we walked back to the car happily, we said goodbye to our friends in the car park (after a bit of fun climbing in and out of each other’s cars; that’s the kids not the the mums btw!) and drove home.
(Must just mention here that my twins are in the same class at school, in a very small school, so are together all day.)
As I pulled onto the drive the first ‘not very pleasant remark’ occurred. I can’t remember who or what was said exactly but I thought to myself “Otto, here we go!” with a sinking feeling. It all went downhill from there. We got in the house and I asked Pip and Flo to wash their hands and go and get a plate for their snack (a big double chocolate muffin I might add!) Pip went and did that and Flo went in after him (having NOT washed her hands), he proceeded to tell her (again) to wash her hands! At this, she flew off the handle and shouted “You’re not in charge of me!” He repeated his command and she shouted/screamed in an even louder voice (so LOUD) “YOU ARE NOT IN CHARGE OF ME!!!!!!” I think by the sound of it a couple of kicks were also exchanged ?. She marched off out of the dining room and climbed into a lounge chair, curled up and cried angry tears.
I felt sad, confused and pretty powerless as I’ve learned that: trying to talk/console one of them makes the other defensive and getting cross makes them even more upset.
Flo came back pretty quickly (after she no doubt realised she was the one missing out and no one else (on the double choc muffin!). She joined him at the table, I looked at Pip and he was tearful. (Flo can be quite fierce when she’s cross, she sometimes actually growls!) I quickly made them a banana smoothie and joined them.
As their tummies filled up so did their love (tolerance?) for each other. They were as happy as…8 year old boy and girl twins brought up in a loving, caring family. (Incidentally later on, after dinner they were BEST friends, giggling and having serious fun together, making an indoor obstacle course, happily negotiated all sorts with each other about the game and it’s rules.)
At bedtime I made sure I had some one to one time with each of them, we touched on what had happened earlier and I listened to how they felt and helped them to understand and name their emotions.
A lovely book I’ve read says:
“In today’s rushed, impersonal world, some alone time is essential. Children thrive on the warmth and intimacy of private moments with their parents. This one-on-one connection provides the emotional nourishment kids need to be more caring or at the very least least more tolerant of their siblings. Johnny is less likely to pick a fight with his sister to get you to notice him if he knows there will be time set aside when he will have “just you” listening to “just him.”
From Siblings without Rivalry, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. (It’s a great book.)
In summary, 3 of the things I learned today are:
Hungry/tired kids = irritable, grouchy human beings
We all get upset/cross sometimes and we take it out on those closest to us
Remain positive, remember they are only human, LOVE them even more at their most unlovable moments