When Sweet Pea was born, Schmee, then a 3-and-a-half year old, thought that his sister would come into this world a primed, ready and willing playmate. Someone he could tumble around with, run through the grass with and enact intricate and dramatic scenarios with dinosaurs and robots.
He was sadly disappointed.
Since then, he has been attempting to engage in cooperative play with her on a daily basis, getting more frustrated as time went on. If he only he’d known that soon she would be interested in what he was doing… just not in the way he intends.
Sweet Pea’s has gained a little more stable footing as she runs through the house, her reflexes as quick as a striking snake. She seems to be saying, “I’ll gladly play with you, but first I’m going to take your robot, see what it tastes like, and then run off in a random direction and see what you do about it. How’s that for playing together?”
Schmee seems conflicted. He so eagerly wants her to play with him but when they do it’s usually on her terms and that is frustrating for him. So what can I as a parent do about this? What should my reactions be?
For the most part, I let them work it out. Sure, I set boundaries so no one gets hurt but I let them engage in a kind of give-and-take and talk to them both about how they feel and what they want. It’s certainly not easy and not everyone always gets what they want.
Recently, Schmee had worked really hard on a drawing of a train. He insisted it was his best one yet and he wanted to share it with Mom. But it was not to be. Sweet Pea, only trying to see what he had made, accidentally crumpled the paper, “Ruining it forever!”
So what did I do? I talked with Schmee, showing sympathy and compassion for his lost art. “That stinks,” I commiserated, “But maybe you could draw it again?” I explained that Sweet Pea must’ve really liked his drawing, too, and set them both up with their own paper and crayons. Though initially he had his arm raised and fist clenched, he soon relaxed, allowing me to help him draw another train. He even gave Sweet Pea a couple crayons to use for her own work. Things don’t always get resolved so quickly or so well, but we do keep trying to communicate our needs.