Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Teaser and the Firecat

My grandfather, Jack, loved to tease people and play practical jokes on them.  Most infamous in our family was when he slipped his false teeth into a fish that my cousin had caught (both horrifying for my cousin and incredibly gross).  He was really good at pushing people's, particularly my grandmother's, buttons.

The other week little Jack started a "trick" that was reminiscent of his namesake.  Chris was away on a fairly lengthy business trip and I was solo with the kids (which isn't nearly as horrifying as it used to be when they were younger).  We'd arrived home from daycare pick-up and I was trying to get Jack out of the car.  Every time I moved for the handle, I'd pull on a locked door.  So I got out my clicker, unlocked the door and tried again with no success.  This happened about three times before I stopped to watch that Jack had positioned his foot so he could quickly kick the lock each time he heard the clicker.  When I finally got the door open Jackie squealed with delight, "I got you Mama!" and started giggling maniacally.

I come from a long line of teasers, it's one of the ways we show that we care about each other in my family.  My sister has called me Toilet Duck for years (I don't even remember why) and Chris and my brother started a campaign recently to call me Paul Blart Mall Cop (I know exactly why this initiative was started and am unthrilled about it to say the very least).

Paul Blart Mall Cop Movie Poster
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Last week, after a couple of weepy days at daycare, it was brought to my attention that Jack was teasing Molly, mercilessly and she was in tears a few times. He was excluding her from games with her two besties (who had incidentally declared themselves Ana and Elsa and suggested that Molly could be Sven, Kristoff or Olaf adding insult to injury), he was calling her bossy and had to be removed from her table at lunch because he kept announcing that she wasn't his friend.

Here's the thing, he's her brother, so it's kind of his job to drive her crazy.  But where should parents draw the line?  Molly is spirited and has commanding presence and demands, particularly with her brother.  Two weeks ago at swimming lessons, I saw her chatting with a little boy in her class seconds before he jumped in the pool after a bright yellow pool noodle she'd been pointing out.  He had to be rescued by the instructor because he's four and can't really swim yet.  After the lesson I quizzed Molly on whether or not the boy had jumped into the pool because she had asked him to fetch her the pool noodle.  Her response: "I didn't ask him mommy, I told him." Sigh.

We've been reinforcing with Jack that it isn't nice to call anyone bossy, period.  But she's been dictating games, activities, snacks and television picks for her brother since she was able to talk and we knew it was only a matter of time before, well, the uprising.  I am not regretting our request for separate kindergarten classes next year.

When should a parent step in on fighting and teasing amongst siblings?  How do we get Molly to use her leadership skills for good and not evil?

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