I feel like a tightrope walker. All I seem to be doing, for, well, for a large part of my day, is the balancing act – between the kids that is.
Three kids – one five year old and then twenty month old twins – you can imagine the i-want-this-one kind of fights. To a new entrant in our house, the noise levels can be, well, just a wee bit overwhelming, to put it mildly. I am used to it, though; screaming is part of the general acoustics here. There is always a bone of contention, and that object, for that time, assumes such great importance for all three that nothing else can match its excellence and try as you might the one who has it will not part with it and the other two cannot be persuaded to play with anything else; distraction tactics are met with flailing of the arms and, of course, some more screaming. No matter how hard I try to be fair and equal, there is always one kid (sometimes two) screaming, or worse, sulking (this, mostly the older one) feeling betrayed and cheated. The younger ones like to express their discontent, at what they take for unfair treatment, by prostrating themselves on the floor with shrieks that could pierce the Rock of Gibraltar.
The older one, on the other hand, has mastered the art of touching the raw nerves , of saying what she thinks will get her a reaction, and it does. “You don’t laugh with me the way you do with the twins”, or, “they are small, so you are always giving them my toys”. She knows she’s being unfair when she says that, because I have been only too careful not to make her feel this way. In fact, I have neglected the twins if needed, but not her, because I knew that it would be difficult for her to suddenly have to share everything, from her mother to her toys, with two more siblings. But, even then, at some level, she feels that I am not fair, that I treat her and the twins differently.
So, here’s what I think. It’s a tough balancing act when you are a parent of two or more kids. In your mind you try and be fair, but that does not necessarily mean that the kids see it that way too. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that they won’t.
I don’t know how my parents did it. I now realize what it means to raise three kids (we are three siblings too) and have them feel equally loved. It’s a hard thing to do and my hope is that once they are grown up they won’t feel this way. Sibling rivalry can manifest itself in unpleasant ways, and that’s scary for a parent.
My kids are young right now and these are passing, insignificant fights, I know that. But, it makes me think, how will it be in the teenage years? When one of my girls is, say, 16, and the other two 13? Gosh. Imagine that.
These days will, in retrospect, look rosy and wonderful.