At Kelley’s request I decided to write a bit about the sibling dynamics going on in our newly melded family.
Obviously Wendemagegn and Beza had some sibling dynamics of their own going on before we arrived on the scene. I would venture a guess that they were pretty good friends and spent a lot of time together outside of school and home. That being said, in our first few days with them I do remember seeing them use physical force when necessary to defend their toy or their space. Usually it was shoving and pushing and nothing too extreme. We put a stop to that quickly and for the most part they don’t resort to that anymore…with each other (more on that later).
The part that does give us trouble with them is what they choose to say to each other, particularly in Amharic. We had two or three different incidents where I was correcting something Beza did and after I was finished Wendemagegn said something to her and then she burst into tears. Sometimes it was as innocent as “Why did you do that?”. Other times I’m not really sure. So we’ve had to instill in Wendemagegn that it is none of his business when any of the other kids are getting corrected and he needs to stay out of it.
After a few more of these incidents where we seem not to be able to get the truth out of either kid, Dad laid down the “No More Amharic” rule. It was kind of sad but at the time we saw no other option. At that point the only time they were using it was when they were mad at each other and then we just couldn’t resolve the situation successfully. Since then I’ve caught them chattering nicely in Amharic a few times and I’ve let it slide (shhh, don’t tell).
Beza and Natalie get along fantastically 98% of the time. The other 2% consists mostly of the normal childhood squabbles over whose turn it is to play with what toy, etc and those are usually resolved fairly quickly. Beza always wants to wait for Natalie to get ready for bed and one night when Natalie was out somewhere Beza did not want to go to bed without her. Luckily we got back just in time but I know that someday she’s going to have to face that. Every once in awhile the girls will want to match clothes which is cute – thankfully they have several matching shirts thanks to Stacey. I credit a lot of this to Natalie’s very easy going and social personality. She’s usually quick to share or do what the other person wants to do as long as it means she has someone to play with. Her relationship with Wendemagegn is pretty much the same although they don’t spend as much time playing just the two of them.
(Funny story – About 3 months before we decided to adopt, Natalie went with MeeMaw to Arkansas for 2 weeks to see her 5 cousins…and their parents…MeeMaw called me one day and said “Natalie was made to be in a large family. She has such a great time. She plays with one person and when they are tired, she goes on to the next person, and so on all the way down to baby Isaac.” My response was something like “Well too bad for her because she’s stuck with the three of us.” I think God was chuckling just a little as I said those words) 🙂
The more challenging of sibling relationships is Noah and Wendemagegn. Noah’s personality is much more of a quiet, lone wolf. When he plays he has a specific agenda in mind and wants things done a certain way. This applies to Legos, Hot Wheels and on the ball field. And let’s just say that he is still learning how to express those things tactfully and with grace 🙂 Or better yet, to play the way that the other person wants to play. Now imagine that complicated with a language barrier.
In the first month he got frustrated very easily when he was trying to explain to Wendemagegn how a particular toy worked or how he wanted him to play something. Wendemagegn tends to just plunge in and push and pull until he figures it out – that doesn’t fly with Noah. He has made great strides in realizing that sometimes he has to repeat things multiple times and show him. We have also worked with Wendemagegn on letting people show him how to do something.
Noah and Wendemagegn are definitely very different personalities. Wendemagegn likes to spend more time outdoors and is extremely athletically gifted. Noah would usually prefer to stay inside and play a computer game or build Legos or read. Over the last two months I’ve started to see those interests meld some. Noah is more apt to come with us to the park and Wendemagegn enjoys getting on the computer and playing alongside Noah.
My biggest prayer these days is that those two will become FRIENDS and not just brothers.
We did have one incident between the two boys that escalated into Wendemagegn biting Noah on the arm. Both boys were at fault but we used it as just another lesson in resolving conflict nicely and with grace.
Honestly I do get tired of the tattle-telling. Our previous policy was something along the lines of “I don’t want to hear it unless someone is bleeding. Work it out on your own.” Well with W & B here obviously we need to backtrack and work through conflict resolution skills with them so that they can learn how to hopefully start to do some of that on their own. I usually get some story or other after school from the boys about something that happened.
If anyone has great advice on resolving sibling conflict please feel free to comment. I’ll take any and all suggestions for mulling over 🙂