We were in the car the other day. It was a great day. It was one of those days we spent together from start to finish. Everyone got along. The 7 and the 8 year-old started playing immediately. It’s not that they never do this, but sometimes they wake up at odds. Sometimes one want’s to go downstairs and the other wants to stay upstairs. Sometimes one wants to watch a cartoon and other wants to watch a baking challenge. Sometimes one wants some space and the other wants to wrestle.
This time, they hopped out of bed and got right to it. The 7 year-old was in our bed because he got up a bit early, but right when his big sister woke up she came to get him. She asked if he waned to play and this time he did. The stars aligned. They spent the next hour or so in their bedroom; imagining, laughing, encouraging and playing.
After breakfast we decided to take a day trip. It was book stores, playgrounds, soccer balls, basketball and jump rope. We told stories, played games and had fun.
There we were, on our way to another location for more family fun, when he turned to her and said, “You know, you should live with me when we grow up. That way, when we’re driving around in the car you can tell me what the speed limit is.”
Keen. Even though he’s 7 years-old I’m confident he knows that the speed limit is posted. In that moment I had the sneaking suspicion he was actually telling his big sister that he loves her. I suspect he was giving her some insight into the joy he feels that they have one another, the understanding he has of their unconditional bond, and the vision he holds of their connected life. I don’t know that he actually believes they’ll live together, but it seems that he believes they will alway be friends, confidants, playmates and partners in life. It was a nice moment for me.
I grew up with five siblings, each of us less than two years apart in age. Lorelei and I have been incredibly blessed to be able to build our family in this way. In large part, we planned for four close-in-age siblings so that they would each have the others for a lifetime of comfort, support, encouragement, celebration and unconditional love.
Siblings don’t always get along. Heck, we don’t always like one another. There are ebbs and flows. However, in my experience, there is never a time…not a single moment, when siblings are not connected. I believe that anyone of us would tell any of the others what the speed limit is anytime there’s a need, without hesitation.
My heart was warmed to hear the big guy connect with his sister in that way.
Two Possible Implications
We’re on winter break. Life is really busy and really challenging right now. It’s difficult to keep our kids’ days filled with routine, normalcy and comfort. We see the trends and we hear the news. On all fronts, from community health to politics we need to navigate decision making for ourselves and for our kids, while providing them with just the right developmentally appropriate information to keep them balanced, reflective and joyful. They are kids, after all. Even in an imperfect world, they should be joyful.
Consider the following possible implications drawn from the scenario above:
Long-term social bonds are critically important to our kids’ well-being.
As we guide our kids through the strange social landscape of a pandemic we should keep an eye on their friendships. Whether we’re looking at friendships between siblings, other relatives, school friends or kids in the neighborhood, we should notice and encourage our kids to perpetuate healthy bonds between themselves and those they connect with. We should help them make time to spend together. When needed, we should guide them in social conflict resolution while reminding them of the joy they feel when they are together with people they appreciate and understand, who also appreciate and understand them.
Our kids prompt one another, and us.
This time, the 7 year-old prompted his sister to continue connecting with him. Sometimes the prompt is that he needs space. Kids do this to one another and they do this to us. As a grown up he will easily be able figure out what the speed limit is without assistance. They both know this, but he wanted her to know he needs, and will continue to need her.
We should keep an eye on the language our kids use with one another and with us, so that we can support their needs in any given moment. When kids ask for our help with things they know how to do or can handle on their own they may simply be asking for some time together, or an acknowledgement of the bond we share with them. They may be reaching out with a message of togetherness or a request for comfort. Reading and responding to such prompts is well worth the time, every time.
What implications do you see? What learning can you discern from this scenario? Take a moment to reflect and consider a parenting/education guiding principle the “speed limit” anecdote brings to light. Share your thinking, with me or with anyone you turn to for processing along this unique and wonderful journey. You can use the “comments” section below if you’re so inclined. There is meaning to be found in even the smallest moments. Look and listen with an open heart and on open mind.
Thanks for reading…in it together for the kids.
Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead.