I just met a business partner this morning to prepare some “baskets” for our customers and hope-to-have customers. Typically, when we meet I drag some number of my 4 kids along. However, today, he had all 3 of his kids. While we were trying to figure out how to use a small trash can with a step on lid (my company sells janitorial supplies), his kids played nicely kicking a soccer ball around the warehouse. But, as the mornings donuts became fully integrated into the kids systems, it got a little crazier. We knew we needed to finish quickly when the youngest child had the middle child in a neck lock.
First, these were very good kids. But, as a father, the kids either know we are not as strict as the mothers or they just were sick of the day being about daddy’s errands. And, after having lived through similar embarrassing experiences where my kids seemed like wholly terrors in front of business parters (or grocery shoppers or fellow restaurant diners), it was a relief to know that siblings are just that way.
Second, the family dynamics are similar. The youngest kid knows they can yell and the parents may jump a little quicker knowing the parents wonder how they are being tortured. And, the older child is expected not to participate in behavior that leads mom and dad to be involved. So, the youngest child knows how to make the world revolve around them.
Third as much as siblings are capable of driving each other crazy, they also have a special ability to work with (and also torment) their siblings in ways that no one else can. Even when they claim to hate their siblings, they are also realizing that 30 minutes from now they will be playing (or existing together) with no hard feelings about the “ancient” comments.
Lastly, as a parent, it gives us profound relief when we know that other parents occassionally struggle as they attempt to give the world the best kids they can. With very few exceptions, no one event will alterate a child beyond repair. As parents, we hope we put in enough good to balance out the bad. And, if that fails, you hope your prayers can tip the scales…..