Maybe the temptation to annoy your sibling comes from boredom or revenge. Maybe sibling rivalry is built into our DNA. I'm not sure, but I've learned as a parent there is a fine line between when you can laugh at the funny things they do and when you need to teach them a valuable lesson about being a good person.
My 2-year-old stood in the doorway and placed a damaged, but beautiful, plastic tiara on her head. And she entered her older sister's room with a "Frozen" alarm clock under her arm.
The clock has a big, glowing button that triggers enough of the song, "Let it Go," to get it stuck in your head forever.
She put the clock down behind her sister, who had not acknowledged her presence, rolled up her sleeves and took a deep breath. Then she pressed the button and sang loudly, using her fist as a microphone.
Her sister jumped 2 feet.
When I was a kid, I would jump out and scare my older sister all the time. This did not go over well. Maybe the temptation to annoy your sibling comes from boredom or revenge. Maybe sibling rivalry is built into our DNA. I'm not sure, but I've learned as a parent there is a fine line between when you can laugh at the funny things they do and when you need to teach them a valuable lesson about being a good person.
One morning, our 5-year-old turned to my wife and me to file a formal complaint.
"She pulled the leg off of my pony," she said. She has been trying to be diplomatic about these situations lately. After a long talk a few weeks ago, she confessed that she believed we were too hard on her a lot of the times when something wasn't really her fault. Most of the time, we see the reaction not what started it, she explained. My wife and I vowed not to rush to judgement as long as she vowed to not retaliate.
So there she stood, a pony in one hand, a pony leg in the other. And she wanted justice.
When prompted, our 2-year-old apologized without looking up from feeding one of her many baby dolls. None of us were convinced by this apology.
"Do you know why you're apologizing?" I asked.
"Her pony," she said quietly after a moment. She admitted she didn't know why she did it.
"How would you feel if someone pulled the leg off of one of your babies?" my wife inquired. This got her attention and she looked up. She moved her hair from her face and thought for a moment before getting serious.
"Which baby?" she asked.
Of course, our oldest does the same sort of thing to her sister. She just does it in a sly way.
As I walked into the dining room for dinner one night, my little one beamed at me, proclaiming that she had procured the forks for dinner. But there were no forks. She looked under the table.
"They were right here," she said with a shrug before racing back into the kitchen to get more.
My oldest sat at the table with a satisfied smile on her face. When her little sister was out of sight, she placed each fork back on the table.
David Manley is a husband and father and an editor at The Canton Repository. Share your stories with him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @DaveManley.