My first and third children, a girl and boy respectively, were shy during their growing-up years. The second and fourth children, also a girl and boy respectively, were outgoing. I think it created a equal balance of personalities that resulted in them getting along most of the time.
Rarely did they have knock-down, drag-out confrontations. In fact, the shy siblings were hugely entertained by their outgoing brother and sister.
It's a little different with my granddaughters because both girls, sisters Tilleigh, 6, and Evie, 3, are outgoing. And, these days, though they're pretty much inseparable and very protective of one another, their personalities have begun to clash a bit.
The mild friction between the two sisters began around the time Evie turned 3 last April. She began exhibiting a newfound independence to be reckoned with. Until then, she had been content to let her 6-year-old sister call the shots. After all, her sister was worldly with her experiences as an "actress," having taken acting classes and performing in two plays, and as a competitive swimmer, twirler and ballerina. Evie was thrilled to learn these skills from her enthusiastic sister.
Together, the two have put on some impressive plays for our family that Tilleigh produced, directed and starred in. Evie was grateful for the attention bestowed on her by her big sister and happy to play supporting roles, one of which was a character who couldn't walk, see, hear or speak.
Things have changed.
Little sister now wants to direct, produce and star in her own plays sans her big sister, and she pretty much refuses to take part in Tilleigh's plays. Tilleigh thinks her sister is being rude and uncooperative, and it makes her mad. Evie gets upset when her sister tries to tell her what to do. It makes her mad. Their frustrations can result into yelling and sometimes crying.
Sometimes it's very high-pitched and loud crying.
The girls' mother and I try to let the girls work out their differences by themselves when possible, a trait that will benefit them as adults. But when it escalates, we mediate the situation and try to teach them compromise. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't and they go to time out. They don't like time out, so it stands to reason that one day they'll figure out that bad behavior equals time out.
Thankfully, the girls are not always confrontational with one another. They love each other very much. Tilleigh is protective of her little sister and Evie is Tilleigh's most faithful cheerleader at swim meets and her biggest fan when Tilleigh is on the stage. And if one gets hurt, the other stays at her side.
Still, there's more arguing and crying these days as the girls, particularly Evie, establish their independence. And during some of these moments, especially the louder ones, being the grandmother has an advantage over being the mother. I can send them home.
It does make me feel better, though, that one of my co-workers, a young mother, is experiencing the same thing with her 6- and 3-year-old sons. It's a rite of passage.
Contact staff writer Karen Nazor Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6396. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/karennazorhill. Subscribe to her posts on Facebook at www.facebook.com/karennazorhill.