Since my youngest daughter turned 2, she and her older 7 year old sister have started to fight. Part of this of course, is simply to do with the fact that daughter number 2 is no longer happy to trot around after her sister following instructions with unquestioning obedience. But a big part of these arguments, I have observed, comes down to their polar personalities.
This really stuck me the other day when they were playing with Play-Doh at the kitchen counter. Daughter number 1 had her pots of various color lined up in front of her. Very carefully she was taking the dough from each pot and constructing a set of animals, dogs dressed up as ducks I seem to recall (she has a very vivid imagination!). Very delicately she was placing tiny pink balls for noses and blue balls for eyes on her brown puppy head, careful not to squish them too tightly together. Meanwhile daughter number 2 was taking big handfuls of dough and squishing them into one big messy lump. “Mommy!!!” I hear my eldest scream, “E is mixing colors……I’ve told you E, YOU CAN’T MIX THE COLORS.” Staring her straight in the eye, with quiet defiance E continues to squish and pummel the colors together into a not very attractive gray/green mess. Now I’m sure part of the reason for this, is because daughter number 1 has told her not to and daughter number 2 is simply trying to be difficult and/or is enjoying with villainous glee daughter number 1 freak out at the sight of all those beautiful colors turning into something resembling partly hardened concrete. But part of it, is that she just likes to flout convention. Simply put, E is ‘she who mixes’, whilst R is ‘she who does not!’
For example, when we go to the play park, my 2 year old will be climbing at breakneck speed, the tallest piece of equipment she can find and then swinging with delight from it, whilst my 7 year old is pointing out sternly that, “this is only for 5 to 10 year old’s mommy, she shouldn’t be on here.”
If I tell my youngest that we can’t pick the flowers in the botanic gardens because the head gardener will get really cross and tell us off, it’s simply viewed as an instruction to do it quickly or discretely so that no one notices, whilst my eldest screams “no E, we’re going to get in big trouble!”
I know what you’re thinking, she is only 2, she just doesn’t understand the rules yet! But you haven’t seen the look in her eye as she processes what she has just been told to do/not do and then immediately does the complete opposite.
Seriously, you leave my eldest alone in a room with the biggest, chocolatiest (not a word – but it should be), most beautiful cupcake you can imagine and if you said not to touch it, she would sit there for hours, drooling and complaining, but she would not touch it. You can’t leave my youngest in room with a ballpoint pen for 10 seconds without returning to some artistic effort on the wall, despite being told several times that “pens are for paper only!”
But then she is young and they say that younger kids learn a lot from their older siblings so maybe one day soon, the “follow the rules” attitude of my eldest will start to rub off on my youngest. Except that, recently my eldest has decided that wearing matching pajama tops and bottoms is boring and it’s much more fun to just mix them up randomly. In fact you could say that her determination to make them as unmatched as possible has almost become an obsession. Uh oh, we could be in trouble here!