Squelching Sibling Rivalry
by Michele Hastings
The zit on your nose is so big itíd look like someone threw a pie in your face if you popped it!" chuckled Tymon to his younger brother. (Asher has white heads but rarely gets actual pimples, so this was just intended to rile him.)
Attempting to ignore him, Asher continued opening the can of tuna heíd hauled out of the cupboard for lunch. Refusing to be ignored, Ty continued to pester his little brother -- an all-too-typical event these days. WHAM! Unwilling to take any more verbal taunting Asher slammed into Tymon, knocking him into the kitchen hutch.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" I exclaimed, disturbed by Asherís violent reaction to his brotherís attempt at humor. "Well what am I supposed to do?" he yelled, tears welling up in his eyes. "Iím sick and tired of that kid constantly pestering me! All he does is follow me around, making my life miserable!" "Ignore him," I reprimanded. "That doesnít make him stop!" he wailed.
"Well, neither will slamming him into the wall!" I answered, glaring at him in frustration.
"Every time he bugs me I am going to hit him." He said. "Iím not putting up with it any more."
"Oh man," I breathed. I really did need to put a stop to Tymonís annoying habit of seeking negative attention and Asherís violent retaliation as of late. "Both of you are grounded from your lunchtime electronics." I stated. "These 15-minute groundings are obviously not making enough of an impact on you guys. Maybe we should make it a full day." I threatened.
"NO!" Tymon piped up. "One hour is enough." "You should make it a full day." Asher said. "Maybe that would make Tymon stop harassing me!"
Everyone was silent. "You really are giving your brother reason to hate you, Tymon. Are you proud of that fact?" I asked him seriously. "No." he replied meekly. "Well something has to change because I too have had enough! How often do I tell you that youíre exhausting me? How many times do I have to give you heck for purposely pestering people?" I sighed. "Youíre coming with me on my walk today Tymon. That way, Asher can get a little break and you can wear off some energy."
After Tymon gobbled down the grilled cheese sandwich he fixed for his lunch, we donned our winter apparel and stepped outside, leaving Asher with a reminder to not use the computer, T.V. or his gaming system. The sun shone, melting the heaps of snow piled on both sides of the road. I walked on the street and Ty ran across the street to scale the highest snow ridge he could find. We walked awhile that way, me quietly pondering our dilemma and Tymon climbing hills, rolling down the other side and flinging himself into the snow.
"Do you know why I call you Sunshine?" I asked him during a moment when he was trailing along quietly beside me. "No." He answered. "Itís because for the most part you have a sunny disposition." I told him. He looked at me quizzically. "That means that youíre cheerful, friendly, optimistic and energetic. Youíre full of energy, life and the joy of living." I went on. "However, every good quality has a down side. Sometimes your exuberance gets you into trouble. You have all this extra energy inside that you need to get out and if itís not channelled properly it comes out in negative ways. Itís going to end up ruining relationships, property and even your own body." I said. "Youíve admitted yourself that your pestering seems to be beyond your own control. You donít understand why youíre doing it and Iím trying to explain it to you." He was listening. Right then and there I made a decision.
"For now on, youíre going to join me on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for my lunchtime walksÖweather permitting of course. (We just got through a cold snap with temperatures dipping as low as -40 CelsiusÖ plus wind chill!)
"NO!" He argued. "YES!" I replied emphatically. "You need daily exercise and if you donít get it you have too much restless energy to burn and it gets you into trouble. Floor hockey on Tuesday evenings and gym class with the homeschoolers on Thursdays is not enough exercise for a kid with your energy. Accompanying me on walks these other days will give you the balance you need. Itíll also give us some time alone to chat . . . if you want to . . . and itíll give you and Asher some necessary time apart." I continued. "As it is, you already spend at least 3 hours a week more on the computer than Asher does because of his basketball practices and games. When I look at your life, I definitely donít think you need more electronics time. In fact youíd benefit with less time sitting in front of a screen and more time outside being active."
His silence proved that I was right. "Besides, youíve had fun out here havenít you?" I inquired. His response was to pick up a ball of ice and aim for a sign in the distance. "Think I can hit that deaf child sign?" he asked, smiling. "I know you can," I smiled back. Minutes later we stepped into the house, cheeks rosy, relationship restored. The house was quiet. Asher looked peaceful, sprawled out on the couch perusing a Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine.
"How was your time alone?" I asked him. "Fine," he said. "Tymon, start on your half of the bathroom so we can get that done ok?" "Sure." His brother answered. "Just give me a few minutes to work on my web site."
I smiled, pleased that weíd come up with a workable plan to squelch the sibling rivalry. Increasing grounding from electronics from a mere 15 minutes to an hour for the guilty offenders, along with giving Tymon a healthy outlet for his high energy levels, would go a long way towards nipping this problem in the bud. Pouring myself a fresh cup of coffee, I sat down at the computer to write.
Michele and Ted Hastings are the homeschooling parents of two
bright and creative boys ages 11 and 12. They live in Regina, Saskatchewan,
Canada, and have been leading a lifestyle of learning since the children were
born. Ted is a developmental assistant, working with multiply disabled children
in a school setting, and Michele is a part-time hairstylist who loves to write.
Micheleís new book The Homeschooling Trail . . . a Journey of Faith is
available at her website, www.michelehastings.com.
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