Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bestest Friends

There are some things that really must not go unnoticed. Like, for example, how God has faithfully answered my prayer that Davis and Jackson would be the best of friends.

I cannot say they never argue, but I can say that it is a weekly, not daily or hourly occurrence. They play nearly all day together without incident. I am so thankful for the friendship these two have thus far in their little lives, and I pray that Weston is included in this blessing and that it continues "foreverly-long" into adulthood.

Lest you think too much of me or Ryan and our ability to parent, I think it has mostly to do with prayer, some to do with personality, and only a touch to do with parenting.

But I was wondering what you have done to foster friendship between your kids? One intentional thing I did starting when Jackson was about 12 months and ending when he was about 2 1/2 (you know, that period of time when kids are difficult to play with because they don't understand - or are not well-versed in - concepts such as and sharing and "don't knock down brothers blocks," and "don't intentionally or unintentionally destroy the train track brother just built," and so on, was do my best to protect Davis and Jackson from each other. While Jackson was still learning, I was careful to not expect too much of Davis. (Ah ha, let me explain...)

Imagine folding an entire week's worth of laundry, only to have your toddler come over and find it a fun game to throw it all over the room. And then imagine that happening everyday, several times a day for about 18 months. (You might not have to do too much imagining here!) Anyway, I thought it was asking too much of Davis to constantly put him in this position. (Heck, it was almost too much to ask ME to be in that situation.) So I rescued Davis from little brother, with the express intention of preserving their relationship. I knew that the season of (mostly unintentional) destruction would not last forever, and that if I could prevent the resentment that would likely build, it would pay off.

A note on training: With my sweet Jackson, he gave me PLENTY and NUMEROUS opportunities to train him in obedience, so I chose not to pick this as a battle, because my higher goal there was to preserve a precious friendship.

Now at six years old, Davis is well able to handle the frustrations of playing next to little Weston Drake (who is approaching one). He has skills to think through how he could play differently since brother is there, he knows all about moving to a new place to play the same thing, and he knows how to put his own desires aside for the sake of someone else's. Jackson, however, is still learning these skills so I have began to do the same thing for Jackson & Weston's relationship.

Jackson is a bit more of a firecracker, so I have had to employ some additional training tools, like setting the timer for "Weston playtime," where Jackson can learn to play a little longer each week next to/with Weston, sharing his beloved cars with him and patiently showing him how to play too. Jackson is so much more willing to share those cars if he knows there is an end in sight. And when that timer dings, I swoop in and preserve that relationship, rewarding Jackson for his kindness and patience, and preventing Weston from getting knocked in the head with a metal double-decker Matchbox bus.

I pray that this preserves their relationship so that when both boys are a little older, they will be free to play and play and play together, like bestest friend brothers. Just like Davis and Jackson.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the thoughs Jenne. I too pray all of the time that my girs would be the best of friends. I tell them that all of the time too. I like the idea of protecting them from eachother. We have tried to come up with fun things that they can do together that doesn't involve sharing. I know that sounds crazy, but racing up and doen the hallway and crawling around and chasing eachother are way easier to them then trying to share ALL of the time. Thanks for the ideas:)

Pate Family said...

Protecting them from each other is such good advice. I need to start doing that more with the baby. The other thing I did with A & H is from the very beginning I was always saying, "Ainsley, you are so blessed that God has given you a best friend right in your own family." Basically brainwashing them. It has totally worked. The other thing that has helped when they do fight is after we have dealt with the problem, sometimes with discipline/ prayer/ whatever the situation requires then we move on to restoring the relationship. The way we have found to do that is to have them sit side by side and hold hands. Even if they are starting out with sour faces they end up happy and laughing and then off playing again.