On refereeing competitive siblings

I touched on this the other day, but there’s something you can’t fail to notice about boys: their competitive streak.

Eager to one-up each other the WHOLE TIME, my sons compare everything, from who gets to sit next to whom the most, to the football teams their footie shirts belong to.

And sometimes this relentless rivalry gets quite exhausting, especially when it’s over something really silly you can’t believe they’re arguing about. Like toothbrushing. (“I’m going to win!” said in a light, humorous tone, but with a fine thread of steel running through the centre of it.) Or which one of them loves their grandparents the most.

Best friends (even if they don't always know it. Or show it)
Best friends (even if YouTube would suggest otherwise)

I’m sure this chronic competitiveness is getting more pronounced, too. It was easier when they were really small and had an active fantasy life. At age 3, if they wanted to be the fastest kid in the world, they just had to imagine they were. Now, at ages 8 and 6, they realise it’s not good enough just to think they’re the fastest – they have to prove it.

At other times, my sons are the best of friends and keep each other entertained for hours – and when it’s the two of them pitted against the world, they stand up for each other with a brotherly empathy that knows no bounds.

But, at home, it can feel like I’m continually being driven crazy by petty squabbles that border on grievous bodily harm.

“You.Are.The.Worst.Brother.In.The.World,” I heard Son1 telling Son2 the other night, after yet another argument over I can’t remember what. “Mum …blah, blah, blah, blah … he started it.” Can you tell I had my fingers in my ears?

“Look, it’s even on YouTube,” continued Son1, bringing me the iPad. He’s really into making movies at the moment and has worked out how to upload them. I glanced at the screen. And, to my alarm, there it was: his latest home movie – a biography of sorts, entitled The Worst Brother in the World.

(While I had some success in teaching Son1 that this isn’t a nice thing to tell the world, I’m still attempting to figure out how to delete this production!)

It’s a good job I know they love each other really. <3

2 thoughts on “On refereeing competitive siblings

  1. I hear this more frequently at home. Joli wishes she had an older sister and Elias wants an older brother… He says she is annoying and she thinks he is mean. But as you say, sometimes they just play beautifully together which really warms my heart and being without siblings, I think they are the luckiest in the world to have each other! xx

  2. Take heart – it really gets so much better. Mine went through ups and downs (often driving me to despair) when both were at home, but after #1 left for University, things changed significantly. Don’t know if it was a case of ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder,’ or if they’ve both just grown up, but at almost 18 and 21, they are now the best of friends. Last summer, #2 flew back to the US early as soon as his school broke up, and spent a month with his brother and roommates at his apartment, well before MrL and I got there. I was expecting them to be sick of each other by the time we all finally met up for our family holiday, but that wasn’t the case at all. #1 even taught his brother to drive! (#2 wasn’t old enough to do it in Korea, but the age is 15 for learners in TX.) They Skype and message each other almost daily, now – sometimes we feel a bit left out! This is what we always hoped for when they were small – and there were MANY times we had cause to believe that this would never come to pass! As for things right now – all these ups and downs are part of the shared memories they will look back on fondly together. Promise! Of course, the competition….well, that never really goes away. You only have to watch MrL and his 2 brothers – all grown men in their 40s and 50s – to realize that nothing has changed there.

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