Saturday, October 8, 2011

Relationship Drama

Susan, Edmund and L all ride the same school bus to the elementary school. Peter rides a different (later) bus to the middle school and O is in part-day preschool, where I drive him and drop him off.

Some mornings, O is awake and walks to the bus stop with me and the 3 elementary kids. Other mornings, he's still asleep and stays in the house while Peter finishes getting ready for school. This particular morning, O was at the bus stop.

We could see the bus at the previous stop, picking up that load, so the kids were all lining up to get on, the line heading straight out from the curb, then curving down the sidewalk.. L was 3rd in line, Edmund 4th and Susan about 7th. L asked O for a hug and he hugged her; while hugging, she asked for a kiss, which he gave her, too. Then Edmund asked if he could have a hug, too.

L can NOT STAND it when it looks like O might like anyone but her, especially if it's Edmund, who is younger than she is and yet in her grade and excelling. As soon as Edmund asked for the hug, she stepped between O and Edmund and asked for another hug, too, talking over Edmund as though it was a competition for O's affection. O hugged her and just looked at Edmund. He asked again for a hug and so did Susan. O walked over and hugged Susan, still looking at Edmund; L began to laugh. "He hugged her and me, but not you!" Edmund looked sad and I leaned over to O to ask him to give Edmund a hug, too, when L demanded another hug which he gave her. The bus arrived and the line started to move. As I whispered to O, "Could Edmund have a hug, too?", L began dancing on the spot, singing, "I got a hug from my brother!" Edmund teared up, and pushed at her backpack. She whipped around and snapped, "Don't hit my backpack!" just as O gave Edmund a hug.

I told her not to gloat as they climbed on the bus. I don't know how to handle this sort of rivalry. I know she needs that love from O because she's missing it from so many other places. But I can't let her be nasty to Edmund in order to get it. I hate that she's learned somewhere that love is finite and that more love for someone else means less love for me. I hate that O has been trained to withhold affection while watching for a reaction, as though enjoying the power that it gives him.

Edmund shouldn't have pushed her, but I'm tired of punishing him for reacting to her drama. I will not let her be an emotional bully and I will not let her train O to be one either. This is going to be one of our biggest struggles during the time they are with us -- helping them learn that love and affection are not tools to be used to hurt someone else. I hope we are up to the task.

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