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By Linda Shiue
The days are getting shorter, and by the time I make the 45 minute drive from work to my daughters' school to pick them up, it is very dark and I am very tired. I actually tripped on the last step at their school and sprained my ankle tonight, just yards from returning to the car.
After hobbling to the car, the last thing I wanted to hear was the usual backseat squabbling and competition for my attention. The simultaneous shouting is incomprehensible, cacophonous, and usually escalates to actual fighting. It sounds something like "Mama! MA! MA! alijt059DHY69374=0-0987@#465! Screech!" I was not at all in the mood to hear that tonight.
"Please be good, kids." I said. "Mama is in a lot of pain. Here are some M&M's." (Remainders from the confiscated Halloween candy from last month. And yes, I do realize I violated a basic parenting rule against bribery.)
And... it worked!
So instead of the screaming cacophony, I heard two distinct voices and a dialogue tonight:
7 yo: "You know what? It seems like the big brother or sister, the big sibling, is usually the meanie."
Mama: "What do you mean?"
5 yo Yeah! Like you (referring to her sister)!"
7 yo "Mm-hm."
Mama: "Why do you say that?"
7 yo: "Well, because before the younger sibling is born, the older one is used to being the most important one in the world, but after the younger one is born, the older one doesn't get any attention."
So despite my throbbing, swollen ankle, fatigue from a long day, and the insistent, constant and forte competition for attention from my younger daughter, I held my older girl on my lap tonight for her piano practice. This little extra bit of attention really worked. I'll have to remember this the next time I wonder why the 7 year old is pinching her baby sister.