I was thrilled the day my kids started arguing. Finally, they reached the true test of siblinghood. NEGOTIATION. It has taken a good five-and-a-half years to get here and I’m not complaining yet.

At fifteen months apart my kids have actually been mistaken for twins. I don’t see that strong a resemblance. They may not ‘look a like’, but they definitely ‘act a like’. So not too strange a conclusion for others to draw.

Our son often acts as the third parent. He worries for his sister, is often proud when she reaches a milestone that is earlier than her peers or often much later. When Sage started to read, he was jumping up and down, as proud as we were that she learned something new. It’s not unusual for him to ‘remember’ when she wasn’t able to ask for what she wanted or even ride her bike. After asking lots of questions about why she could or couldn’t do things other children could, he simply accepted her.

Our daughter has developed social skills at a surprising rate this past year. We are often blown away that she shows interest in her world and is now able to communicate her thoughts and feelings. It’s not perfect, but it is communication. She can answers questions in context.

“Do you want something to drink?”

“Yes.” This is the point when I would simply grab water or juice.

No water! I wanted to have the orange juice.”, she responds with an exaggerated hand motion and arms spread wide.

In the past, I would be over the moon that she responded to the question. Now I’m thrilled she has an opinion and expresses it. As Sage has shown interest in the world around her by responding to our questions, communicating her interests, and having ‘real’ conversations; it often feels miraculous. The true test of her development has been the interactions with her brother and the increase in the number of arguments they have. Finally, he sees her as more of an equal, someone who can and will challenge him. Finally, she has an opinion and insists on what she wants.

“Sage, that’s my car. You have the blue one!”

“No its mine. Its mine. Ahhhhhh!” she yells back.

In the past, the conversations would look more like:

“Sage…here is your blue car.”

Whether it was her blue car or whether he wanted to maximize having a turn with two different cars, my son would always have the choice. His sister would more often than not move on to another toy or activity, showing no interest or opinion.

This weekend Sharlene and I sat in the kitchen listening to a similar argument. Usually it starts with, “SAGE….” and a complaint, followed by a loud noise. We looked at one another as a classic, “…that’s mine…” is thrown out by someone. Do we intervene? We silently ask. Eventually the argument ends without bloodshed and hopefully with some resolution. I can’t help but smile that we’ve gotten to the stage where our kids can argue with one another and practice this kind of negotiation. I’m too grateful to be annoyed…yet!

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