Leitrim Mammy Diaries: Sibling rivalry - the love/hate relationship

Fiona Heavey


Fiona Heavey


Leitrim Mammy Diaries: Sibling rivalry - the love/hate relationship

Who can scream the loudest, who has the biggest bruise, the most cake, the best toy? We are getting used to the increasing sibling rivalry in our house

As an only child myself, I had an idyllic idea of what having two children would be like - once again, as with much of my pre-children visions, I was really wrong.

My firstborn turned 3 years old when our new baby entered the world. What a lovely age gap I was told, they will be best friends forever, playmates, confidants ... enemies more like!

Their relationship baffles me, I don’t understand the unwavering love and bond they have and at the same time the strong dislike, bordering on hate and utter annoyance they have developed for each other in just 18 months.
I read online that “watching your children play together is one of the real pleasures of parenthood” and I can relate to that because what is rare is certainly beautiful.

At just 18 months old my son can annoy his four-year-old sister by just walking (running at speed) into a room, and he not only knows this fact but take great pride in it. The closer he stumbles towards her quiet game of lego or her precious Paw Patrol, the more his smirk develops, he delights in the chaos that knocking over a meticulously built tower or picking up a strategically placed character brings. And he knows that if she dares to take revenge on him physically, a high pitched cry from “the baby” will bring the wrath of mam or dad down on her. Clever for a boy that can’t talk.

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The four-year-old must have sensed this anarchy the second he was born, she refused to believe that her parents could bring this grinning hurricane into her quiet world.
For NINE months she ignored his existence, she looked confused when people asked about her baby brother, played deaf when he cried beside her and carried on her life as the one and only. If the baby needed his nappy changed, she created a bigger emergency that must be tended to first - always first. She stole back her ‘hand me downs’ and even protested about the new use of her old cot and highchair. At least she understands he needs the cot now, and she even goes as far to demand he make the most out of it, by calling for him to take several naps a day!
Despite their animosity, they do love each other (in a unique way). The one and a half year wants to do everything his sister does, he follows her like a puppy, adores her singing and lets her speak for him on important issues such as more TV time and the need for increased snacks.

They must sit together at mealtimes and they even swap some food items to their liking, baths too are best shared and no one is leaving the house without the other one in tow. If she cries, he cries, if she laughs, he laughs, if she gets shouted at … he smiles!

For the moment the four-year-old has the upper hand, she can talk, protest her innocence and even lie her way out of situations. The still mute 18-month-old is however building his strength, ninja reflexes and alliance with the dog, so the battle over who is top dog should get pretty interesting soon and may become a monthly quest.
Will they be best friends as they grow? Who knows. Their relationship will change as they grow older, as they learn each other’s weak and strong points, as they deal with outside influences and challenges.

But maybe in 20 years ... they will have each other to look back on their crazy childhood and they might even get a reduced price on counseling!

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