A few weeks ago, I took Fraboo and Boy-Boy to a soft play centre near to us. They have been before, and absolutely love it. It is a real treat for them, and in Fraboo at least, induces almost knicker wetting excitement, so we don’t tell them where we’re going until a few minutes before we set off, and even then, we will insist that they wear nappies when they get in the car.
So we took them along and they had a lovely time climbing up steep ladders and whizzing down slides. Curiously they never seemed to stray too far from each other. I know that some children can’t bear to be around younger siblings, no matter how insignificant the age gap seems to an adult. There were times in my childhood, when I didn’t want to hang around with my little brother, who is a mere 18 months my junior. Unhappily for me, by the time we got to secondary school, he could think of nothing more humiliating than being my companion, but then I was a bit of an unusual individual even then, and with the gift of hindsight, I don’t only forgive him, but fully endorse his actions. Prior to this though, we were the best of friends, and would happily accompany each other everywhere, getting into mischief together, and when we were caught up to no good, complaining about our parent’s draconian rules to one another. And so it is with my children. They are as thick as thieves, often scheming together just out of earshot and whenever we go out with them, one will follow the other, and then be followed themselves. As you can probably tell I am very proud of them.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not gloating. I know that many siblings don’t get along, and in another week, month or year, mine may not either, but we are enjoying the moment, long may it last.
Anyway, back to the story at hand. We were at the playpark, and Boy-Boy had momentarily been separated from his sister. As he’s only a little chap he was struggling to get up a particular stairway, and was causing a little bit of a traffic jam. A bigger boy of about seven had clearly had enough of waiting and was starting to jeer at Boy-Boy, telling him to hurry up and get out of the way. Just as he was about to push him out of the way, a furious Fraboo appeared. “That’s my little brother! Leave him alone!” she shouted. The big boy’s grin vanished from his face, and I have to be honest, I thought that Fraboo was about punch him (or at least pull his hair). He quickly muttered an apology and went to find another part of the playground to use.
There are a number of points, which after analysing them seated on the porcelain throne, have come to mind.
First of all, I am immensely proud of my daughter for sticking up for her little brother and she shows every sign that she’ll be looking out for Jojo in the same fashion. What makes this as far as I’m concerned, even better, is that the aggressor in this situation, was quite considerably bigger than her, yet she showed no sign of backing down. Perhaps it was this attitude which caused the would be thug to reconsider his actions.
Second, where did she learn to be so intimidating. The only violence to which she has been exposed, has been the Underwear Wrestling League where she, her brother and father, wrestle, wearing just their underwear, in the precursor to a gigantic tickle fest! I’ve never gone in for violence, primarily because I suspect I’d be pathetic in a fight, and even if I’m not, why take the chance?
Finally, you might be asking yourself, if I was close enough to hear this exchange, why did I do nothing to intervene on my boy’s behalf? For a start, Boy-Boy wasn’t in any danger, but perhaps more importantly, I find it really difficult to call kids who aren’t my own to task if they are misbehaving.
I remember when I was a youngster, that getting told off by someone else’s parent, was about as bad as it got, and speaking to my work mates it seems the same is true for them. On the odd occasion when I have had to get out of my comfort zone and reprimand a child who is not mine, rather than an apology for their child’s bad behaviour, I get given a withering look and basically told to mind my own business. I just don’t get it. I would hope that if my children are playing up, someone tells them to stop it, and I would fully support them.
As I said, my two eldest ones, are getting on like a house on fire, and although the little one can’t really join in too much at the moment, they make every effort to include him. Mrs L. and I will continue to nurture these relationships, and if they are anything like my siblings and I, in thirty years from now, they will continue to be the best of friends.