Monday, February 9, 2015

Sibling Jealousy

I thought we would've been at the peak of jealousy before now. Even somewhat over it. But as it turns out, the jealousy appears to just be at the beginning.

Benjamin spent roughly 25% of his waking hours this weekend throwing temper tantrums. Despite this, we still managed breakfast at the donut shop, a fun S.T.E.M. program for dads and their preschoolers at Benjamin's school, his first Spanish class and a dinner at our favorite restaurant.

Somehow. And really, he was good for all of these events. It was the before/after and transitions that made the weekend more hellish. Fighting for independence is at an all time high with the almost-three-year-old.

I wish I were exaggerating about the meltdowns. One of them even went so far that Benjamin opened both garage doors and ran out in the wet (snow melted) garage and started throwing things off the shelves, without shoes. If you know this kid, you know he hates getting anything on him that is messy. His socks were soaked with dirt and muck and he didn't care. Tantrums are out-of-body and completely irrational. To make matters even more fun, our neighbor saw him escapades, making us thoroughly embarrassed.

The majority of the tantrums happened at home. He's incredibly destructive, so he's now banished to his bedroom where all of his toys have been removed except for stuffed animals and some books on very high shelves. He's made dents in the walls, broken wall socket covers and nearly pulled pictures off the walls (thankfully they are slightly too high for reach).

It's exhausting. He's like Jekyll and Hyde. One minute he is hitting and kicking and flailing and the next minute, he is hugging you, giggling and telling you how much he loves you.

With Claire, he's intentionally mean the majority of the time. It's now to the point where I cannot be out of the room if they both are in it together. I must be present at all times, because even if she is by herself in the corner, he will manage to find something she has that he needs and lays the smack down. She whimpers in fear when he comes near her. It's really quite sad. He randomly walks over and hits her, quite often, and for no apparent reason. She then cries and we console her and then he gets jealous she is getting our attention and acts out again. It's a vicious cycle that pleases no one.
Literally seconds before/after
I know that he is learning that the world doesn't revolve around him, but it doesn't make it any less obnoxious. I know he's just two (three in two weeks!), but honestly. It's making some days really unpleasant.

And the big problem is, this is a two-way street. Claire is easily just as jealous of Benjamin. When she sees me reading him a book, she immediately crawls over and fights for front and center attention and screams like someone is wronging her in the worst way. The poor toddler never gets the quantity of books read to him that he was so accustomed to before she was so mobile and assertive.

In a short time, they will both be way more grown and (hopefully) use other forms of communication to express their interests than screaming (and hitting and biting and kicking) that is currently favored. I keep telling myself that. And even then, with all the unpleasantness that comes with having two small kiddos vying for your attention with overboard jealousy, there are far worse alternatives. Alternatives like, not having them here at all. That bit is never, ever lost to me.

I've personally published over 50 stories on Faces of Loss in the last two weeks. They are heart-wrenching. I have a story as well, but now I know the inner feelings of 50 more families who lost at least one child each after we lost Andrew. I bet they all wish their kids were screaming and biting and kicking. Anything is better than the silence.


Nicole said... [Reply to comment]

We experience some major tantrums and jealousy here too, complete with screaming, hitting, biting, etc. It's ugly. And crazy stressful. I'm seeing a little bit of improvement (most days) since they're getting a little older and better able to express themselvs.

Hang in there, mama. I know it's tough, even when we think about how lucky we are to have them at all.

50? That just seems too unreal. Heartbreaking.

Party of Three Heads said... [Reply to comment]

Got to love it. I have just (1) as you know, and it appears that acted the same way, as a singular. I have to see it when we do add another one to the mix. Hell, he's jealous of me and his dad, showing affection to one another, instead of showing it to him. This too shall pass.

Brie said... [Reply to comment]

I love your honesty. We have had an increase in meltdowns lately too...and yes, little sisters can be just as jealous (although less destructive) than big brothers. I got my first "I don't yike you! You mean!" This week. That's hard. Even harder though, would be NOT having them. Hang in there. Bedtime comes eventually, right?

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

I want to hear more about this Spanish class!

Sneaker Teacher said... [Reply to comment]

Oh I am so familiar with toddler meltdowns. Recently when John travels for work Grace has become an emotional MESS. So frustrating but also challenging that i am alone and have to deal with multiple fits a day. Hang in there!

Veronica said... [Reply to comment]

That picture warms and breaks my heart! And when I say "breaks", I mean in a very light way... like, c'mon B! ANd god, Claire just looks so terrified I want to scoop her up!

I hope Benjamin turns a corner with age or something... because I know you're doing everything right!

Jenny said... [Reply to comment]

Hang in there as they work out their feelings and their relationship! My early childhood educator MIL had a balloon pop up character (the kind that when you hit it, it will rock back upright) for my husband to take aggression out on as a small child... he was also encouraged to hit a special pillow, and there were a few doll biting times at under 4 years old. And she spaced her boys 6 years apart but there were still relationship boundaries to work out. Obviously Benjamin will one day be a well-adjusted adult, in about 18 years ;-)