Sibling Sweetery

We get a lot of summer visitors. Why wouldn’t we? Scenic island–check. Sunny, mid-sixties-to-seventies days–check. Kayaks, trails, farmers market–check. Terrific bakery (OK, I’m a little biased since I work there, but 99% of customers agree, “Holly’s Buns Are Best.”)–check.

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By the way, lest you think I am bragging–the rest of the year is largely clouds, rain of some form or other, wind, and temperatures in the 40-50s range. Not so many visitors then. But summers here in the San Juans are AWESOME.

So, lots of visitors: family, friends, friends-of-friends. Currently we’re being visited by the family of the sister of my best friend from high school. And she has the Best. Kids. Ever.

The daughter’s about to turn sixteen, the son’s not quite thirteen. I’ve known families with just this configuration of ages, and their parents usually end up apologizing for infecting our island paradise with their squabblesomeness, as though it were contagious. “Pshhh,” we say. “All sisters and brothers fight. That’s nothing. You should’ve seen me and my sister…”

(courtesy someecards, via Pinterest)

(courtesy someecards, via Pinterest)

The thing is, this bro & sis DON’T fight. They LIKE each other. They’re affectionate. They tease, but in a sweet way, like besties. Even when they’re playing competitive games that  my husband and I have learned not to engage in without marriage counseling. Crazy Eights and Hearts? No fights. Bananagrams? Nothin’. Washers? They try to beat their parents.

And of course they split the last piece of pie as a matter of course.

My husband and I are astounded…and delighted.

And I am CURIOUS. How did this come to be? Why is it so uncommon?

Is it parenting? These kids’ parents are certainly mellow, cool people. But I know lots of mellow, cool parents whose kids act like contestants in The Hunger Games.

(courtesy someecards, via Pinterest)

(courtesy someecards, via Pinterest)

Is it birth order? Our own two boys always got along pretty well, but our younger son acknowledges that if he’d been the elder, there’d have been a new sheriff in town. Maybe our friends’ girl is just one of those sweeties like our son. (Where was she when I was undergoing mental waterboarding by MY older sister?)

Is it the fact that they’re on vacation? In my own experience, that makes the squabbles worse, not better. So much interesting new stuff to squabble over!

Is my sample skewed? Maybe there are tons of great sister-and-brother pairings out there, and I’ve somehow never met ’em.

So help me out here. What causes some sibling pairs to get along while others fight like cats and dogs? What variables are at play? How did your own experience with your siblings inform your thinking on this?

(someecards, courtesy Pinterest)

(someecards, courtesy Pinterest)

12 thoughts on “Sibling Sweetery

  1. I am the oldest of five children, two sisters and two brothers. And while we didn’t always get along as children, we are very close now. It might have something to do with my Italian parents, who drilled into us that “blood is thicker than water.” I think girls tend to stay in touch and, as for my brothers, you got to somehow get along with your sister-in-law. I know lots of siblings who spat over nonsense. You have to ask themselves, is that the behavior you want to teach your children? Life is very short and friends come and go. But you can’t replace your siblings.

  2. My two grown children are very close. I think part of the reason is that I never interfered in their “fights” as children unless there was blood. They had to work it out for themselves. They still do.
    Enjoyed your post.

  3. My sister and I are 7 years apart. My parents swore they had two only children. Yes, we fought for about the first eighteen years. But then, something just clicked…and we were best friends. I also have two daughters–10 and 6. It’s like WWE around here. I’m afraid to leave them unsupervised sometimes for fear someone might slice open an artery. Then there are other times I’m almost moved to tears they play together so well. So, who knows? Maybe we fight with the people we love the most because we can trust and “let it all hang out?”

  4. Our two sons are sixteen months apart and you could swear they are twins in the best of this meaning. They have always gotten along. They are intuitive of one another and each others best friend to this day. But…their father did not allow them to fight or keep a grudge. They had to go to their room and figure out a way to make up and get along or they couldn’t come out. lol. True story. And it worked. Personally, I think my husband was a genius. I give full credit to him for that one. So yes, I think you are dealing with exceptional parents Gretchen. Parenting is the toughest job in the world. 🙂

  5. Yeah, and somehow we leave it to on-the-job training for this toughest of jobs. Nice to hear of your own experience paying off so well. I do think sometimes parents accept the inevitability of squabbling too easily, although I feel like I can’t judge since our boys were so mellow.

  6. Gretchen. Let me start by saying I LOVE the San Juans. My parents have a home just outside of Friday Harbor, and I love to go there. So peaceful. I can just feel my stress fading as I cross over on the fairy. Also, the diving in those islands is AMAZING. We were just there and saw a wolf eel with a head the size of a freakin’ BOWLING BALL. 🙂 So sisters and brothers… maybe it was like my sis and me. We were all nice and friendly, but when the adults were gone. WHAM! 🙂

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