Category: sibling rivalry

Foes to Friends

Foes to Friends

I have come to believe that if India and Pakistan were closeted together somewhere, secluded from the rest of the world, all acrimony would disappear.

Let me explain. 

So the other day, N asked H to get her a glass of water. Now usually a seemingly simple request like this one would have been met with point black refusal mixed with sharp derision and a vociferous recounting of past-grudges along the lines of ‘That day, that time when I had asked you to get my whatever you didn’t, so why should I?’

Whoever said children with siblings learnt to share and adjust and do things for each other probably never had siblings.

Anyway, so this time, to my absolute astonishment, H did it. He actually walked to the kitchen and got her a glass of water. The Husband almost fell off the sofa where he sat watching the IPL, while I performed the most spirited happy mental jig.

Maybe, just maybe, that sibling theory wasn’t all wrong.

I thought back and realised that over the last few months of lockdown my personal India-Pakistan — H and N — seem to have called a truce. (I can’t even let them get a whiff of this analogy lest I begin a war of which one of them is India and which is Pakistan).

They do small tasks for each other. H gave up his room for N when she needed a larger table for her art work. He also made her a cake-in-a-cup when she was down, more than once. She has helped him clear up his table and lent him random stationery items from her secret stash.

To an outside observer these may seem small things but believe me when I say great wars have been fought over erasers and gel pens of dubious ownership.

Which is why I have looked on these new developments with happy disbelief.

However, if you’re thinking truce would mean a quiet, peaceful, angelic kind of household, you have another think coming. Nope, peace and quiet isn’t the way we do things.

The fights are all but gone, the real fights I mean. However the Tom-and-Jerry thing they have, continues. 

Once after a rather intense study session H got up stretched himself then said, ‘I’ll go and trouble N for a bit’. Troubling her is as easy as barging into her room and proceeding to lounge on her bed, waving a Kitkat under her nose and popping into your own mouth as she reaches out for it then walking at snail’s pace when asked to leave. I almost wait for her protests and they come soon enough and loud enough ending with, ‘Get out of my room’.

N gets back at him by hiding away his things. He’s absolutely terrible at finding anything at all and is soon begging her for help promising to wash up for her after lunch or be her ‘slave’ for one whole day. 

And so it goes on. 

That aside, I’m listing this as the best thing that happened to me during the lockdown. And I’m totally sold on the idea of close seclusion for converting age-old enemies into friends.

Endnote: If you’re a parent of warring siblings, I want you to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

Last Endnote: *Hugs* to help you weather the storms till you get there.

Jumbled mythological ramblings

Jumbled mythological ramblings

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

The maid was on leave. I was dusting, sweeping and mopping while trying to keep an eye on the children studying for their geography exam. I glanced at the two of them. N was bent over her book while H lay sprawled on the floor, writing.

‘What are you doing?’ I asked him.
‘I’m making a soil chart – alluvial, black, red, laterite,….’

I tuned out rushing to switch off the tap as water overflowed from the mop bucket.

‘…… loamy, clayey’, the tail end of what he was saying brought me back to their massive Geography portion. I glanced at N struggling through the jungle of vegetations and soils and I remarked rather absentmindedly, ‘Whatever it is, share it with N after you finish, okay?’

And BAM! Right there I knew how Kunti got Draupadi in the five-husband mess. When Arjun won her (Draupadi) in a Swayamvar and entered the house saying, ‘Ma look what I got!’ her obvious response was, ‘Whatever it is share it with your brothers’. And so Draupadi landed up with five husbands.

I have always felt truly sorry for that poor woman, and I mean Kunti. Imagine having three boys and then a pair of twins; boys again! What’s worse, she lived in a joint family with her sons and their one hundred cousins, all boys again. I feel faint each time I think of that much testosterone packed under a single roof. Oh and her sister-in-law would have been little help with eyes permanently blindfolded.

You see now how her patience must have been tried? That sharing line was the most natural thing for her to say.

The thought of the brothers squabbling over whatever Arjun had brought must have freaked her out even before she knew what it was. And she said the obvious pre-emptive thing any mom with multiple children would say, ‘Share it’. Thank goodness they were in exile and the cousins weren’t around. Small mercies.

It’s been twelve whole years – take a few months off for when the twins were infants – but since then, with every living breath of mine I’ve been trying to teach them to SHARE and they still don’t get it. It has been one of my most epic fails as a parent. And yet I persevere, reminding them to share share share till it has become a reflex, I say it without thinking.

Just like Kunti.

H goes to a birthday party and comes home with cupcakes – share it, I say.
N wins a goody bag at a school contest – share it, I tell her.
Her friend gives her a chocolate – give half to your brother, I tell her.
He wheedles a computer game from us – okay we say, but share it with N.

I can completely imagine being absentminded enough to say the exact same thing as I work at my laptop.

Am I being fair? Perhaps not. Definitely not in the kids’ minds. After all, as N tells me, ‘When I win something it is mine alone, and it should be my decision to share or not’.

Right? I’m sure Draupadi would agree and Arjun too.

However, as a mom there comes a point in one’s life when all one wants is peace at any cost and fairness be damned.

I have to add that all said and done, this new age funda of I-for-myself doesn’t quite gel. It’s more than just about keeping the peace – I do genuinely prefer the old Indian way of sharing – sharing willingly and with love. And till the kids get that, they can whine and complain but share they shall.



Note to self: When your child says, ‘Look what I’ve got’ – check what the ‘what’ is before asking him/her to share.

Sharing a room with a sibling

Sharing a room with a sibling

…can be a lot of fun.

Through most of our childhood my sister and I shared a room with our grandmoms. We got ours when we moved to a new house. I was in college then. We shared it till I left Lucknow to work in Delhi. We had posters all over the walls – Ravi Shastri, Boris Becker, Karan Kapoor – all our heartthrobs! Our pride, however, was a gigantic collage we had put together with our favourite ads and quotes.

Of course, we had our fights. Luckily we had two single beds which we would push together in times of peace and drag away during war. The memories that stand out, however, are mostly fun ones.

I’d hoped the same for H and N.

Sharing a room is a great way to learn to adjust

Everyone comes with a bunch of quirks and living together helps one look beyond them. Out in the real world we are not always fortunate to have like-minded room mates. Not for nothing did I survive multiple roomies at working women’s hostels (my first one was from Kashmir and my last from Chennai) and then later, the snores of my one permanent room-mate – the Husband :-).

It teaches you to respect boundaries

It helps children understand the concept of ‘mine’, ‘yours’ and ‘ours’, that there are certain things they can share and others which they cannot.

Most of all, it’s a great way to bond with your sibling

My happiest memories are of hours spent with my sister listening to songs of Shammi Kapoor (he was our eternal love) as also Elvis, Cliff Richards, Boney M and the Beatles on an old battered ‘tape recorder’ and mouthing dialogues of Sholay and Maine Pyar Kiya along with the tape.

H and N being of the same age have it a little more tough. Their books are constantly getting mixed up since they’re in the same class. It is a regular affair to find one of them foraging in the other one’s bag despite protests (How dare you touch my bag!), and coming up triumphantly with a lost book (See? I knew it was in there).

There are personality clashes too. N is more careful with her things and more particular about privacy and ‘space’. She likes and respects boundaries. H, on the other hand, can never even perceive a boundary. If he would, he’d probably step right on it!

Things became a bit crazy the time he used up N’s hair colour pens for painting a carton (He was making my birthday gift!). A huge storm, followed. He insisted they looked ‘just like regular pens’, which they actually do. She refused to believe that (Can’t you read?).

Despite all of that they’ve stuck it out together.

However, at Diwali last year, N picked out pink curtains. I have to admit they were gorgeous. However, H absolutely refused to have them in the room. I tried to pacify him with a beautiful blue rug, but he was adamant.

Striking a compromise…

Finally, I emptied out a shelf in my study and moved some of his things. He can now work on his assignments there and call it ‘his’ room too.

It turned out to be a good idea because they can now study in separate rooms and also sort out their dukh dard in some amount of privacy while still sharing a room.

That said, I have to add that nothing, I repeat, nothing can completely rule out fights and arguments. It is built into their systems, I think.

The other day I was busy in the kitchen when I heard them having an argument. Here’s how it went.

N: This is my room, go away.

H: I’m on my bed, the bed is mine.

N: You can come in only at night.

H: I can come in when I want.

N: Then I’ll take your room and you can stay here.

H: Don’t you dare!

N: Just you watch.

I know a stalemate when I see/hear one. With one eye on my bubbling curry I tried to bring about peace, to no avail. Finally, I bellowed out from the kitchen ‘This is MY house and papa’s and nobody else’s. You two don’t own a room, a cupboard, a shelf. Nothing! So there’s no humara – tumhara. Quit fighting.

It was at that precise moment I realised, our door was open and my elderly neighbour was standing right there, listening to only my side of the conversation. And now I’m sure he doesn’t think much of me as a mum.

Life’s not really fair.


Do you remember what it was like to share a room with your sibling? Do you think children, specially of different sexes, should have separate rooms?

You love her more than me

You love her more than me

You love her more than me. You always take her side!”

I watched frustrated, hurt and a little annoyed too as H hurled that allegation at me and walked out of the room. I was just back from their PTM last week and had found them in the middle of a huge row. Of late I am trying to keep out of their fights, but I had to step in here. I was still preoccupied with the discussion at school and was hardly prepared to handle all of this. I simply wanted to restore peace.
And then H made that one allegation that unsettles me most.
This isn’t the fist time this has happened
Yet it remains something of a raw nerve. Being fair is almost an obsession for me. When the kids were babies there were always people who preferred one over the other – visitors, friends, grandparents. Someone would like one of the twins because he or she was more talkative, more active, more chubby or simply because one of them resembled someone in the family. I was constantly losing my cool despite telling myself over and over again that it would happen and that it didn’t really matter as long as the Husband and I didn’t have favourites. Yet it drove me to distraction.
Now, when I have the same allegation tossed at me I don’t know how to react. I read somewhere that most parents have favourites (normally the first born) and so I spent hours in honest self-examination on whether I do love one child over the other and I can say so with all my heart that I do not. (I don’t even have a first/second born to begin with!)
Each time I try to explain this to the twins it comes out sounding like I am listing things I do for each one of them and that is so very far from my intention. That day I ended up sad, worried and exhausted with a throbbing headache.
That was one of the days when I truly envied people with single kids. I wondered at my naiveté that had me jumping for joy when I discovered I was having twins!!
As always when I’m lost in this parenting maze I turn to other parents – real and virtual – and here’s what I pieced together.
Some children are more insecure than others
and will always feel they are being treated unfairly. Nothing you say or do will convince them otherwise. The tweens (and then the teens) are perhaps the worst times when real and imagined angst is at its peak. You can only hope that they change their mind as they grow older. Sometimes the wait may last till they have kids of their own.
Sometimes they’re saying it only to needle you
When they are upset, tweens say things they don’t mean. In fact if they know something hurts you, they are more likely to say it to you to get their way. Oh yes, kids have crafty little brains. However, they do know in their hearts that it isn’t true. I need to remember that.
So what should I do?
Well, I realised that spending energy on convincing them is pointless, specially when they are angry. I will have to leave them alone and let my actions speak for me.
A sane, reassuring talk after the storm will help.
When one child demands/needs more attention than the other in pampering his/her need, in appeasing him/her I might end up being unfair to the other less-demanding child. So that’s an area I need to tread with caution.
As a parent I need to differentiate between treating them fairly versus treating them equally. That’s an area I’m not really good at. For instance if one of the twins needs something (and the other does not) when I get something for one of them I end up getting something for the other too only to avoid a showdown. Bad idea! The focus should be on the need not the thing.
More individual time with each of them, focussing on individual needs, is even more important as they are growing up.Those are the things I’ll be working on.

As a parent have you ever faced this allegation from your children? Growing up did you ever feel your parent favoured a sibling?

Linking up with dear friend Nabanita’s #MommyTalks. Do drop by her post where she talks about kids and the evil eye. Do you believe in it?



On my other blog: Beat About The Book

The House in the Cerulean Sea #BookReview

Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea Author: TJ Klune What a delightful delightful book The House in the Cerulean Sea has turned out to be. I couldn’t wait to finish it to begin writing about it. Let’s go then.