Apparently, yesterday was National Siblings Day. It’s got me thinking about the sibling age gap. It’s an interesting thing and the more you see it up close the more impact it appears to have. Daughter one still complains heartily that she is not an only child, but is gradually coming round to the fact after 18 years. She doesn’t mind only son, who she refers to as “my son”, but she took a while to get used to daughters two and three, particularly daughter two. Daughter two has dominated daughter three rather a lot in the past – in good and bad ways. She took her on lots of adventures – synchronised swimming in the paddling pool and “swimming to Atlantis” were particular highlights. Daughter three is a more laid back kind of person, though one who always has a plan up her sleeve because she has had to strategise her way to get her views heard by her older siblings.
Only son is the baby of the family and in part this leads to everyone mothering him. Daughter one occasionally just stares at him and whispers “he’s sooo sweet”. However, on the down side, having teenage sisters means he has to grapple with mood swings and complicated philosophical ideas at the age of just seven. One minute daughter one is idolising him and the next she is calling him out for being a “zombie” for his devotion to Geometry Dash. One minute she is explaining the concept of feminism to him [“don’t let women down; we are relying on you”] and the next she is cuddled up watching Diary of a Wimpy Kid with him.
Daughter two lays into him about veganism and the sugar content of anything he eats then rolls around the floor with him. Daughter three, who he shares a room with, is usually quite a calming presence, but has been known of late to throw strops when he doesn’t do what she wants in their room. Daughter three has been strategising a room swap with her parents so she can have a room of her own. “You can move into our room. It’s bigger and has more windows,” she explained the other day. “And only son can be with you but in his own bed.” Only son jumped at this news, needless to say.
These mood swings mean only son is great at adapting to unpredictability and change and he also has a very big vocabulary, particularly with regard to feminism and rights generally. The other day he was asked to get out of the swimming pool during a lesson after hitting his friend who he says pushed and hit him first. Asked why he did it, he replied: “I was just defending my honour, mum.”
Daughter two has spent the holidays decorating her room again. It is full of a variety of pots from charity shops and she has decorated each wall with different stencils and designs. The furniture moves daily. Daughter three is doing lots of chores for her money tracker. Daughter one is studying. Only son has done some reading and ideally wants to spend all holiday under water. He has yet to convince anyone else. He has learnt that teenage girls appear to be constantly on their period or waiting for it to occur, meaning they can’t possibly go swimming. “Mum, daughter two is literally pooing blood,” he ran in to tell me urgently the other day. I am not sure if he has totally understood the whole business of periods, but he knows it is dramatic. Daughter one mentioned she might go swimming with only son a couple of days ago in one of her “he’s sooo sweet” moments. Clearly she had no intention of getting in an actual pool full of cold water so only son was a bit disappointed and had to make do with his mum again. Thank God for the menopause.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.