Carlos has just as many siblings as I do but he knows nothing about sibling rivalry. His brother and sister are much older than him so a good amount of his childhood was spent almost like a single child.
I, on the other hand, was born in the middle of an older sister and a younger sister. This usually meant that when we went to war, (which we did often), I always had an ally. My older sister and younger sister never teamed up together – that’s the benefit, (and injustice, depending on which side you fall), of being one of three.
Now as a mother of two boys I sometimes try to view their relationship from their perspective as siblings. Two brothers means there are no allies – it’s direct one-on-one combat – At least it keeps things fair?
When the boys fight, I usually turn a blind eye and let them work it out on their own, knowing it’s just one of those things siblings do, but Carlos considers this “American parenting” and will have none of it. When the boys fight, Carlos takes action. “Ey! You’re brothers! What’s wrong with you? Brothers don’t act like that!”
“Yes, yes they do,” I say to myself as I watch Carlos force them into a stiff-armed hug under threat of the chancla. Carlos’s heart is in the right place, but I think sometimes you just have to let them work it out by themselves. Conflict management skills come in handy in the real world anyway, verdad?
The funny thing is, when our hijos “fight” – their acts of revenge aren’t even that bad. The things they do to each other are fairly innocent compared to what my sisters and I did to each other when we were all under the same roof. Our youngest son has erased his older brother’s user account on a video game. Our older son has hidden a toy from his younger brother – That is usually as far as it goes.
Some of the routine things we did to each other as sisters included:
• Insisting our little sister was adopted until she cried.
• Turning out the lights and terrorizing our little sister with scary monster noises.
• Locking each other out of the house.
• Stealing our older sisters clothing/perfume/jewelry.
• and, picking up the phone while our older sister was talking to a boyfriend and saying things about her that would humiliate her.
When my mother left our older sister in charge, it was time for our older sister to get revenge. My little sister and I usually ended up locking ourselves in the bathroom so she couldn’t beat the crap out of us for all the things we’d done to her during the week.
Our older sister had one boyfriend in particular that we didn’t like. My little sister and I took some dinner rolls and drew wings on them with a marker, then we chucked them at him from the next room. (Not sure why we bothered to draw wings. It was creative cruelty.)
Then there was the Thanksgiving my family will always remember. At the table my older sister kept putting her finger in my face and doing the “I’m not touching you” thing. Being someone who values their personal space, I warned her that if she didn’t stop, she would be sorry. Of course she did it again. I grabbed her shirt collar in one hand and punched her in the face with the other. She got a bloody nose and I broke a necklace she was wearing. My mother cried because she envisioned a Martha Stewart-esque meal. (Sorry, Mom.)
My older sister had to put up with a lot from us two, but she’d get a break once in awhile when my little sister and I got into our own battles. One time my little sister stole a book from me. She ran to her room with it and locked her door. I kicked her door so hard I made a hole in it. She also did this to my door on one occasion. I think that was the same day she threw an iron at my head. My little sister also chewed up the feet on my Barbies multiple times – They were so deformed they couldn’t even wear their high heels.
This all sounds dysfunctional written out like this, but I’m pretty sure it’s normal. There was a lot of fighting, cruel pranks and rivalry, but we loved each other and still do. The good memories far outweigh the bad, and I love having two sisters, (even though I once told them I’d trade them both in for a brother.)