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Sibling Shaping

A strange phenomenon has taken place in our home since Kurt returned from his ‘finding himself’ tour.

Sadly, I’m not here to tell you that a miracle took place and our boy found God, turned to sobriety, become a believer in no sex before marriage and hard work being the key to happiness.

But… some signs of maturity have surprised us.

My children are sort of getting on at the moment, even talking to one another on rare occasions.

So, ‘talk’ might be a bit of an over-excited, ever-hopeful mummy exaggeration, but they spar now, which is the start of interaction in my book.

Theirs has never been an easy relationship. Three years apart in age – yet in reality at least six years apart in maturity – that gap has felt enormous at times. Add Kurt’s life choices, general craziness and misadventures to the equation, (which have impacted the whole family and put NC’s protective defences on alert) and the outcome that theirs is a forced, distrusting relationship.

You can’t choose your family.

When one child has special needs, their siblings become unwilling witnesses to the effect that those needs have on their parents’ relationship, on their health and happiness, and although we see positive signs of improvement in Kurt’s behaviours, NC’s wounds in particular may take a while to heal yet.

Of course, Kurt being Kurt, our son has already forgotten what went on in the past, so he approaches their relationship like everything in life, impulsively, head first, ‘bull in a china shop’ style, desperate to seek her approval but going about it the completely wrong way by battering her ego, knocking her confidence, and prodding at her open sores for attention.

Then he gets hurt when like a Funnel Web spider she rears up and retaliates.

Verbally, there is no contest between them. Few possess the razor sharpness of NC when riled. Even the old man and I quake in our boots when she has been activated.

But that is how siblings are supposed to behave, isn’t it? Part of their growth is to battle, to compete and challenge each other. It’s how they mould and shape each other. It’s how kids learn much of their life skills – how their skin thickens, how they learn the techniques of verbal sparring, negotiation and how to compromise.

So I’m grateful for this breakthrough. For a while there, I couldn’t see beyond Kurt and NC being adversaries, imagined some day them being reunited on some cheesy reality tv program, twenty years after we’ve gone.

Actually, that would never happen. NC would never go.

Last night we had a family discussion about politics over dinner. Neither stormed out.

Do I dare to hope?

How do your kids get on?

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