This weekend was mainly fantastic and mostly spent outside enjoying the garden and local park, but the sibling rivalry between Poppet and Pickle is definitely at boiling point at the moment.
When we decided to have our first two children close together we didn’t expect it to happen quite so quickly, so the fact that they are 12 months and 3 weeks apart wasn’t planned! In the early months it was unbelievably hard work but has definitely got easier as they have got older.
When they are out they usually form a formidable little team (often with Piccalilli tagging along!) and people often comment how they appear more like best friends than sisters. At home they alternate between being thick as thieves (usually when no adult is around and they are plotting something) to fighting like cat and dog when we are around.
Pickle is still going through a period of deschooling (getting school out of her system) and craves our undivided attention. This means that weekends can be great in the sense that we can share her between us but difficult because she struggles when one of us wants to do something special with Poppet.
So when Poppet decided she wanted to collect some sticks to make her own Stickman, Pickle initially wanted to be involved. When she realised it meant going outside to find the sticks she decided against it and disappeared inside to practise handstands!
When Poppet returned with sticks and Pickle realised that the Stinker was going to help her to use the saw her heckles went up and she demanded attention. For a moment I thought the situation was going to escalate beyond the usual sibling rivalry and arguing when she started trying to grab the saw… Luckily I’m getting better at handling these situations so rather than screeching ‘Stop!’, I managed to distract her with the calm request of help to make the dinner (one of her favourite activities) – phew, that was nearly another trip to the local MIU!
Poppet and the Stinker made the most wonderful Stickman and all limbs remained intact. So this time round the result was peace and harmony 1 : sibling rivalry 0!
Today I saw a different side to Pickle since she left school…
I am aware that deschooling (getting out of the school way of thinking and behaving) can take months, and during this time children can regress and generally be hard work, but Pickle has been taking this to extremes! In school she wouldn’t say boo to a goose and was always impeccably behaved (not herself!), then horrendous at home. Many people say they prefer it this way, but not me – I’d just like my kids to be themselves in all situations, and hopefully generally nice 🙂 I used to help out in Pickle’s class and found her behaviour quite upsetting really.
When we removed her from school the horrendous side took over and the compliant side completely disappeared (Goodbye Dr Jekyll, hello Mr Hyde!) I know I wanted her to be her but I really hoped this angry, defiant, aggressive her wasn’t going to hang around for too long. She also started to tic quite badly, something that we’ve noticed in Pickle since she was quite young, but always seems worse at stressful times – cue questioning if we’d done the right thing and me nearly having a breakdown after a particularly bad week.
Things have gradually improved and Pickle seems a lot happier to be her. Although her angry side still rears it’s head occasionally, we are all learning better how to respond (generally with a tight hug) and situations are diffused much earlier and with less shouting and stress all round.
She has been quite reluctant to sit down to learn on the whole (she found the whole ‘sit-down learning’ at school very boring!); this is something I’ve not been worried about as she’s still deschooling, is only six anyway and can learn in many more ways than sitting at a desk (see Where do we learn?!) but with a very keen older sister, I think she has felt some pressure to join in with activities (from Poppet, not me!)
Today however she chose to join in with no requests (I often ask her if she’d like to as I’d hate for her to feel left out) or pressure. Poppet and I were sitting up at the dining room table making really long number lines to practise counting in 3s, while Pickle and Piccalilli were playing on the floor in our newly created small world area (to make room in the lounge for our Christmas tree!) Pickle observed from a distance for a while before asking if she could join in, but could I help her to draw the lines? ~ of course 🙂 She focused on her number line for nearly an hour and was really pleased with her learning.
I’m sure the lack of pressure to be involved helped and I hope that she continues to enjoy learning alongside her big sister…