My two oldest kids are 10 and 5 years old – 4.5 years apart in age. Tim and I thought maybe we’d dodged the sibling rivalry by virtue of the age difference, but time has proven us wrong. Very wrong. Now, don’t get me wrong – they love each other like crazy and have lots of fun together. But they’re always aware of what the other kid is doing, or being allowed to do, or getting.
The biggest issue, of course, is screen time. Tim and I limit screen time during the week (no screentime on school days), so by the time Friday evening rolls around, the kids are more than ready to watch a movie, or play a video game, or catch up on a TV series on Netflix. Being 4.5 years apart and opposite genders, they rarely want to do the same thing. So, often we’ll end up with Book Boy playing a video game on the TV while Book Girl watches a cartoon on the laptop. Whatever – I don’t mind, and they’re happy enough. Usually we let him play until her movie is over, then screentime is over for both. So I guess we’ve kind of set the stage for screentime being equal.
Sometimes, though, they won’t start at the same time. Maybe BG wants to play with the baby for a while, or one of us reads her a few books, then she starts screentime. She’s very aware of that, and feels that if she started screentime an hour later than BB, she should get to finish an hour later than BB. I think she could probably tell us how much screentime they each had down to the minute, if we really wanted her to.
But the funniest example of this “separate but equal” mindset came this evening after dinner. Tim and the kids were having some screentime (video game and Backyardigans cartoons) while I worked on cleaning/organizing our bedroom a bit. The kids had been pretty good all day and had done a nice job helping us with cleaning, so we agreed to let them have some chips or some candy, their choice. Tim served, since I was upstairs.
About 30 minutes later, I heard BG at the bottom of the stairs.
“Mom. MOM!” she hollered up to me.
“I’m up here – come on up if you want to talk to me,” I replied.
“Mom!” she said. “I think BB got more chips than I got gummy worms.”
(I think I handled it appropriately by telling her that I had not seen how many chips BB had gotten nor how many gummy worms she had, so she better go ask Daddy to handle it.)