Posted by Sarah Anderson
Three years ago, when I found out I was pregnant with my second boy, I was relieved. I already had one, so the immediate thought in my mind was, “I got this. I know boys. This will be my oldest son—version 2.0.” But literally, from the moment I was able to feel my second little guy move, I knew he was, in no uncertain terms, nothing like his brother.
Every moment since has confirmed what I suspected then. I may have two boys, but they are their own deal. I have one more sensitive, compassionate, and intuitive. He is a thinker, a learner, a great question asker and a budding evangelist. I have another one whose love language is teasing, whose first word was “go”, who runs and skips more than he walks, who laughs when he falls down and sees rules as more like an opportunity to make a joke than to actually obey.
They are an absolute blast on their own. Together…they are more like oil and water. We get glimpses of harmony, shared giggles, and (melt my heart) handholding. But more often I witness the playing out of a “fun fact” I recently learned of: Brothers under the age of seven fight every seventeen minutes. And it is my personal opinion that when they have been apart for most of the day, they feel the need to make up for lost time when reunited.
It’s exhausting—for me, the adult/peacemaker/referee. But I know it’s exhausting for them too. One wonders why the other won’t just lighten up. The other wonders why it is so funny to disrupt his very involved story telling. I imagine consciously or not, they see each other as so alien and feel to some degree, a sense of frustration. Family is complicated enough—but add in our glaring disparities and the fact that we are surrounded by each other all. the. time—and, the whole concept of family can start to feel like a cruel joke.
But several months ago I read a quote from Jeffrey Kluger that shifted my opinion on siblings from exasperating to endearing. He writes, “Siblings are the only relatives, and perhaps the only people you’ll ever know, who are with you through the entire arc of your life. Your parents leave you too soon and your kids and spouse come along late, but your siblings know you when you are in your most [undeveloped] form.”
He’s on to something. There is something powerful that comes from the sibling relationship. Something that can’t be replicated. The tricky thing is, though it has dizzying possibility, it isn’t a promise. It’s a gamble—it’s a relationship that has to be fought for both now and later—when the kids who share baths, bedrooms, and germs have outgrown the homes they come from and start to create their own.
It would be easier most days for me to let each of my boys do their own thing. To separate out their lives to a level of ease, convenience and quiet that sounds really appealing. Why break up the fight over that toy, when I could just buy a replica so they both have one? Why not hang with one and my husband with the other so both get individualized attention without threat, disruption or annoyance from the other?
That way would be easier.
But I know the quiet I am anxious for comes at the expense of something special, profound and slick—something that could slip away so effortlessly I wouldn’t even realize it until my boys were long grown and gone. The potential for something great. The hope for something lasting. A relationship with each other, in spite of each other, where they may actually manage to like each other.
We can’t force our kids to be best friends. But we can create homes and opportunities for them to learn to appreciate the things that make them maddeningly different and inspiringly unique. We can celebrate differences and facilitate dissimilarities. And we can let them know, always, that as different as they maybe, they are a gift. To us. And to each other.
Now hold on. My seventeen minutes is up and someone is crying.
About the Author:
Sarah Anderson is a writer and communicator who has been involved in ministry since 2003. She is a lead writer and content creator for Orange's XP3 High School curriculum. Sarah lives in Roswell, Georgia, and is a big fan of her husband, Rodney, her two boys, Asher and Pace, and, in her weaker moments, McDonald's French fries.
4 WAYS TO CONNECT WITH YOUR KID’S TEACHER
Posted by Natalie Kitchen
Do you remember your first grade teacher? I loved mine. I remember how Ms. Parker erased the board from left to right every day and then wrote the new date in the top right hand corner. I also remember how she showed me how to use a ruler because I was sick on the day she taught everyone else. She knelt near my desk and she helped me measure my arm and my folder and my snack.
Now that our oldest is in school, I’m beginning to understand the crazy reality of widening his circle. I know his teachers will spend many of the quality hours of his week guiding and molding him, so I want our partnership with those teachers to be strong.
And because I’ve been a teacher longer than I’ve been a parent, I’m clinging to a few things I hope to remember now that I’m on the other side of the playground fence.
1 – MAKE IT PERSONAL
I know the hardest time to get to know a teacher is when my kid needs help or is in trouble. I want to make it a point to befriend his teachers as soon as possible. Ask them questions about their classroom and their life. Connect with them however I can and as early as I can. Show them that I am interested in them and what they do to love and serve my child every day. That way, when there’s a bump in the road, my relationship is strong enough for honesty and compassion on both sides.
2 – MODEL RESPECT
As our kids grow in their understanding of authority, I know they’ll look to us to learn how to respond when they’re faced with conflict. I feel our disrespect of our child’s teachers will breed their future disrespect of us and other authorities in their life. I want to encourage and model respect, and help them learn from the decisions their teachers make, good and bad.
3 – GIVE
I remember being so touched that a mom randomly brought me new Expo markers that I called her at home to thank her. I want to give my time. My enthusiasm. My old magazines. It doesn’t matter. I know I want to show up and show my kid’s teachers I’m willing to support their every-day, super-tough work.
4 – PRAY
I think I realized how much I like praying on the first day I watched that school bus drive away from our street. Talking to God about my kids’ day is a great way to relieve a lot of anxiety about the things I can’t control . . . and a great way to thank Him for the inevitable and wonderful ways their circles are widening.
What other ways would you add to our list? Let us know in the comments below!
About the Author:
Natalie Kitchen is on the multi-campus preschool team at North Point Ministries, where she serves to equip six area campuses and a network of strategic partners with training and resources. Her love for learning and curriculum is rooted in her experience as a middle and high school classroom teacher. She is married to Britt Kitchen and they have three children: Nolan, Ellie and Ben.