Deep Thoughts,  Inventions, Creations, Experiments

All For One

drew

porter

The other day Porter came home from school crying.

“Drew and Jay are always making fun of me and I can’t take it anymore,” he said.

Although they’re in the same grade, Drew and Porter have always been in separate classes, and pretty much maintain distinct groups of friends. Drew has been spending lots of time with Jay lately. He’s a nice enough kid, but it’s clear he wants Drew all to himself.

So in the clumsy way that nine-year-old males behave, Jay has been making mean comments to Porter, and Porter behaves just as desired– he gets upset and runs away, leaving Jay and Drew alone to play.

Drew is miserable, too. Although he’s enjoying the novelty of his new friend, deep inside he knows it’s uncool to diss your brother. And Drew and Porter aren’t regular brothers. Although their personalities could not be more different, as twins, they’ve spent more time together than with anyone else, and they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

When the problem first came up, Drew and I had a talk in which I told him that friends come and go, but brothers are forever. Glamores have to stick together. If you can’t count on your family, who can you rely on?

Drew nodded his understanding, but I could tell he was intimidated by Jay and worried about his ability to withstand the peer pressure to make fun of Porter and his friends.

Over the next week, Jay continued his taunting, and Drew didn’t join in, which I counted as a victory. Porter remained pissed off, however, as he felt that Drew had an affirmative duty to tell Jay to go jump in a lake and leave his brother alone.

This led to a second pow-wow I held with both twins. I stressed to Porter that he has to stand up for himself; Drew is not his personal bodyguard. Then Drew and I discussed Jay’s failure to get the message that he wasn’t to mess with Porter. I suggested to Drew that perhaps it was time for him to say something like, “Dude, lay off my brother. He’s not bothering you. Let’s go play on the field.”

The whole incident has left me unsure of myself. My first instinct when something comes up is to teach the boys how to resolve it themselves. I can’t protect them from hurt feelings, and time has already shown that they will never agree on their choice of friends. Maybe I should have handled it differently.

Here’s hoping future therapy bills don’t prove me wrong.

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One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: The Penis Project And More

24 Comments

  • Kelly

    Hands down the hardest, most worrisome, painful, wonderful, blessed job on the universe is being a parent. You are handling it wonderfully.

  • amy

    I think it is great advice. They have to learn to defend themselves,but their brothers have to learn to defend them too. It was handled wonderfully. Now just get your older son to go rough him up. Just kidding:)

  • moo

    it’s hard, because you want them to work it out for themselves, but your mama bear instincts want to curb negative behavior toward your kid.

    It sounds like you handled it well … not too much advice, but offering a good strategy for him to use next time.

    Let us know how it goes!

    moo’s last blog post..Ye Olde Sundaye Afternoone

  • Jenny

    I think your way sounds just right. Things like that are tough! From all I’ve read on your blog, I think you are one cool mom!

    Jenny’s last blog post..One

  • Loth

    Ack, I have had this precise conversation with my boys. They are not twins and in fact are two years apart, but the older one has developmental issues which make it hard for him to navigate the treacherous social waters. His younger brother has been prone to joining in the mocking with other kids and I am afraid I did wade in, just a little and did the “friends come and go, a brother is for life” speech. But you’re right, First Born needs to learn to stand up for himself too as I doubt I will carry much weight with his peers once he is a big hairy 16 year old bloke. Sigh. There is just no right answer, dammit.

  • Teri

    As the mother of 4 sons, some grown, some think they’re grown & one little guy who thinks he’s the center of the universe, I think you’re right on the money. Sometimes Mom just has to step back, whisper advice in one of their ears and let the chips fall where they may. Hang in there, you’re entering the “Hazy Line Years”. Not fun but so necessary for their fragile male egos.

  • Joy East of theKingdom

    My brothers-in-law are identical twins.

    Growing up, all their friends knew if you messed with one, then you’d better be prepared to take on both because eventually, one would come to the defense of the other. (My husband is older than them, so the added threat of a big brother doesn’t hurt…LOL)

    My in-laws always let them handle their own issues on their own, with reasonable guidance (just as you have) and they’ve turned into fine young men.

    I think by not letting our children “fight their own battles” (figuratively, cf course) we are setting them up to be ill-equipped for adult life.

  • Toni-EvinNRobsMom

    I thought that you handled it well. I too, have had the “brothers are forever” talk. Evin, my 9 year old, seems to think that Robert, my 8 year old with a processing disorder, is a bit of a pest at times. So I have to bring him back down to Earth and remind him that the world-nor his brother, does not revolve around him.

  • VHMom

    I thought you told the boys all the right things. It’s tough when sibs have different friends while their best friends are each other. You might also consider having the boys put it back in Jay’s court by asking him, “Why are you picking on me/my brother?” and truly expecting an answer. Make the brat accountable. It’s got to start somewhere!

  • GAMom

    You did the right thing. It is important for kids to learn how to work things out on their own, but parents need to give them the skill set to do it – if you’re TOO hands off, you’re not teaching them to cope with things they haven’t had to deal with before. Suggesting words for Drew to use and actions for Porter to take is a good way to help them work through it. Same goes for sibling relationships – telling kids “you boys go work it out” can backfire. Much more effective if you help them come up with behaviors that constitute “working it out” and then it’s up to them to implement.

  • kate

    As a teacher I want to thank all of you moms who handle this problem the way Ann has done. Not only does it avoid fist fighting, the kids actually learn conflict resolution, a skill that will serve them well. The also feel pretty good about themselves when they work it out on their own. Of course you may have to whisper some more advice here and there if plan A doesn’t work, but it will be worth it and it will work sooner than later.

    kate

  • Erin

    It’s so tough as a mom to see your babies hurting. It sounds like this isn’t pretty for either twin. I’m no expert, but I think you did the best you could in this situation. I could pick on my little brother, but if somebody else did I wouldn’t stand for it. I’m sure Drew is terribly torn but doesn’t want to lose a friend or end up the butt of the jokes himself. I hope the situation resolves itself with your advice. I’m sure the twins would be mortified if you talked to the other mom or a teacher.

  • Donna

    GAMom voiced my thoughts exactly. Part of your job as a parent is to teach appropriate behavior. Kids that age generally don’t have the skills to work it out for themselves.

    Also if asked, “Why are you picking on my brother?” as VHMom suggested, they may be opening up a whole new can of worms as I’m pretty darn sure Jay can come up with hurtful reasons. Kids usually can and aren’t reticent about it. They aren’t tactful enough to be embarrassed yet. Speaking from personal experience.

  • Jax

    I think you handled it wonderfuly! I am an identical twin, and we went through the exact same thing. My feeling were hurt MANY times because my sis didn’t stick up for me, and vice versa. However, we both had situations where each other’s feeling were hurt SO bad, that friends didn’t matter anymore! “Double trouble” kicked in!! I realized one day that clothes, boys (or toys and girls in your case!) didn’t matter as much as my sis! Things will work out!

  • Headless Mom

    You did just fine.

    Similarly around here the younger would rather watch tv (or almost anything) than play with the older. The older is rather bossy when they play. Trying to find middle ground here in the land of the headless…

    Headless Mom’s last blog post..Kiddie Straight Jacket *

  • melinda

    delurking…Hello!
    Mom of three, two are sons, eleven months apart (don’t ask). We have experienced similar situations, and handled it very similarly, PLUS, I did some “role playing” with each boy, actually having them state, out loud, what they were going to say to the offending party (obnoxiously played by me!…and we repeat it THREE times) I know, waaay too “touchy feely”, but, they have been successful after these little sessions, where they weren’t so before…
    Just a thought…love reading you BTW, keep fighting the good fight!

  • Karyn

    Sounds like you’re doing it well to me… I would have handled it differently, but that’s not a good thing; doing it my way would have later proved to foster dysfunction and codependence. Rock on, girl. You’re doing great.

    Karyn’s last blog post..Free Bird

  • Mishka

    I think you did a great job…that is exactly what they have to learn. Dealing with small things on their own is how they learn to deal with big things later. All this goop these days about keeping kids from getting their feelings hurt is just going to make them not able to handle things when they are adults. Obviously, you would want to intervene if there was actual abuse or things got out of hand but dealing with peer pressure and hurt feelings are both things we need to have in our handy bag of tools.

    Mishka’s last blog post..Stinky Lotion

  • Cassie

    You handled it beautifully.

    Btw, I bought ferns for the front porch this weekend, let’s see if they withstand the heat of the summer.

  • Liz

    I think you struck it just right. Especially the part where you talked to both boys at the same time so that they both knew that you knew that they both need to take some responsibility.

    Liz’s last blog post..Oh who am I kidding?