Something I'm learning in my season of motherhood: Co-Play.
My SIL, Amber enlightened my vision for the lack of sibling rivalry I desire in our kids. Really desire. She was sharing how at a recent teachers convention someone was explaining CO-PLAY. This is where child A. (exhibit Andrew) is playing contently by himself and child B. (exhibit Jack) comes up (in his case, toddles up) to child A. and starts to interact. This usually takes the form of Jack assuming the role of Godzilla to only knock down Drew's meticulous Lego tower built with tender care. Thus, you can imagine, resulting in a very frustrated child A. and a fleeing child B. ie, Godzilla. So that is the typical scenario. To try to keep the peace and avoid frustration, I quickly realized I was just refereeing and sending the two "boxers" back to their own corners to quietly play by themselves. This is where the enlightenment came into play. I knew that this solved the issue quickly, but I also knew that this is not the way to teach them to interact. Can you imagine this happening in 10 years. They butt heads, mom interceeds and sends them to their room. Nothing accomplished, nothing gained and probably still 2 unhappy teens. No good. That says to me, "we're bandaging the bleeding wound but not dealing with the issue here!" (forgive me, it's the counseling major coming out). SO...my quest begins.
From the beginning I have told Drew that God sent him a best friend in Jack! I thought that if I said it enough and sincerely enough he would eventually believe me and it would happen. Well, it is really true and I (we) really desire our boys to be best friends. But saying it just isn't enough. So I'm on a quest of learning how to help them along this path. It has been a little interesting at times to keep Drew convinced of this. Drew is, well, very sanguine. He loves people and always wants someone to play with him. This was great for the first couple years of his life when he had mommy and daddy to his complete self. But he is also very particular. And that's where Jack comes in. Now, he did really well with the whole transition thing becoming a big brother. He never said, "When does he go back to the hospital" or "Let's flush him down the potty" (like his aunty amber said of his daddy when daddy was a baby). So I was feeling pretty good about this brotherhood we were trying to develop between the boys. But the first year was challenging. Of course, with a baby, there are needs. And lots of them. Obviously they are completely dependent. And the older 2 and a half year old could wait or play quietly until baby Jack was finished eating. And I often found myself putting Drew on hold. Thankfully, my friend, Leah, gave me a great piece of advice when we were both pregnant with our 2nd and discussing the upcoming change of world our older child was about to experience. An older and wiser woman/mother shared with her this: "Be aware of your older child's feelings. Don't always push him/her aside for the crying baby. The baby can wait a minute while you help your older child with what he/she is in need of. The older child is the one who is aware that Mommy's attention is always on that thing called the baby and will feel the fall out of being continually put on hold." (paraphrase completely mine. I was pregnant at the time and still have trouble remembering where I last set the digital camera down.) This helped keep my perspective. Drew did learn that life was not all about him. But that comes naturally and he didn't need a frustrated mommy to make him feel any worst about it.
I remember the torn feelings I had for Drew and Jack. When in the hospital after having Jack, Drew came in with his grandparents to visit. I just wanted to take him in my arms and protect him from his little world that was turning upside down. I was watching it happen and there was nothing I could do to stop it from happening. But it was one of those mommy moments where I had to let go and let it happen and just be there for him to help guide him through. (hmmm, it sounds like he's going off to college here!) And then I looked down at Jack and a different wave of emotions hit me. I felt so sorry for him that I couldn't give him that 100% time and focus that I could with Drew. It was really interesting, looking back. You know, now that I'm typing this, I see it was really ME who was going through the greatest difficulty in adjusting!!! The boys, well they did just fine! Drew was able to spend a whole week at his grandparents house (during the days) and I was able to get that alone time with Jack that first week. That was good for my heart.
So, here I am in a new phase of motherhood.
Now that Jack is walking & exploring, it is a whole new ballgame. I'm learning how to have Drew teach Jack an aspect of what he is playing with so he won't just barge in and ruin everything. And it's amazing at how much Jack is picking up and learning. And they are doing very well together. Mostly.
I'm in the midst of exploring and learning more how to continue this development. I'd also love ANY & ALL of your input whether it's something you experienced growing up or what things you're glad your parents did with you & your siblings or things you've heard and read more recenlty or are currently doing.
And so I'll leave you with a wonderful Co-Play moment. Yesterday during a hectic and busy laundry, cleaning and organizing day, we took a little break to focus on the kids. This was Drew's idea and it ended up being so fun to watch the boys interact.
Cherish those little moments that pop up unexpectedly along the way!
Happy Kids = Happy Mom!!!
P.S. I WOULD LOVE YOUR INPUT!!! IF YOU WANT TO CONTRIBUTE YOUR EXPERIENCE OR ADVICE TO THIS POST (especially from you seasoned mom's out there!) AND WOULD LIKE TO BLOG ABOUT IT, PLEASE LET ME KNOW BECAUSE I'M GOING TO POST A LIST OF LINKS CONCERNING THIS SUBJECT!