Thursday, July 06, 2006

when we all got along vs. today

When Lucy was a baby and toddler, Iris, Lucy and I spent our days largely in an atmosphere of love. Yes, we did have the hassles any household containing a baby and a preschooler has, but we three got along during the days. When Iris was five, she suddenly turned upon her formerly beloved "Mr. Goose", and a new, harsh reality of sibling rivalry set in. Here, however, a paean to the days in which "Iya" (Lucy's toddler version of "Iris") and "Mr. Goose" (the most enduring nickname endowed upon Lucy by Iris) lived together in peace and love:

Lucy used to ask Iris to give her a horsey ride by climbing on top of Iris and reaching out with her hands. I have not seen anything cuter than a four year-old giving a toddler a horsey ride.

Baby Lucy also took to kissing rather elaborately. She would only kiss me and Iris, but when she did, it was like getting a big, climactic screen kiss. (Poor Anton was left out of this).

Iris loved to make Lucy laugh. She had a cute malapropism: she called Lucy a "gigglepush." Another overly adorable thing Lucy baby habit was to say "gigglegigglegiggle." Who can resist a baby, who sports "gigglegigglegiggle" as one of her first words?

A less adorable thing Lucy did was to constantly carry my shoes to me and say, "Go! go!", meaning I was commanded to take her somewhere. She cried if I didn't put my shoes on at her command (plus she cried if I tried to put on a different pair of shoes than this one pair she likes). We spent very little time at home in those days, but that suited the Luce. During the afternoons while Iris was at preschool, Lucy and I were fixtures at the nearby playground, where we made friends and enjoyed the sun.

Ah, the good old days. Now poor Lucy lives under the tyrannical thumb of an often cruel older sister. Today Lucy had a four year-old friend over, an only child, who was not afraid of Iris. Emboldened by this company, Lucy said to Iris, "Shoo! Shoo!" Her friend chimed in, "We don't need you!" (although they did enlist Iris to assist them in building a fort, which I was forbidden to see). Now here's the double standard: if Iris had a friend over and they shooed Lucy, I would have intervened, but in this instance, it felt like Iris getting a taste of her own medicine, and I allowed it. It's a cruel sibling world we now inhabit, and we, the nominal rulers, are not sure how to govern the battling siblings.

The other day, Anton completely was stymied on how to handle the sibling relations. He had declared bathtime and run a bath. In the good old days, the girls bathed together and played together in the tub, but those days are over. Iris always insists on going first (does she pee vindictively in the water? I wonder). Lucy wanted to watch Iris get her hair washed, and she pulled up a stool and sat so sweetly on it, her little arms folded. Iris wanted privacy from Lucy, but she wanted Anton to hang out with her while she bathed.

Anton came to me for a ruling, and I felt like a Supreme Court justice weighing various constitutional mandates. On the one hand, it's good for Lucy to see a hairwashing role model, and Lucy was being nicer than Iris. In sibling disputes, I usually side with the one who is being (however temporarily) nicer (perhaps akin to Prof. John Hart Ely's Constitutional law theory that the outcome favoring greater representation should always be preferred). However, I ended up creating a new rule for our home: you can pick whoever you will be naked around. If you do not want to be naked around any particular person, you don't have to be. This one resonated with the children, just like the "one person, one vote" Supreme Court ruling resonated with the public. I learned in law school that there is no real Constitutional basis for "one person, one vote", and analogously I lacked any good child developmental basis for my parental ruling. Some rules just sound good.


Freewheel said...

I think your new rule is soundly based on the common law right to privacy.

I have 2 boys, one is 5 and the other is almost 2. Most of the time they get along. Unfortunately, the 5-year-old has nicknamed his little brother "Poopy."

the Drunken Housewife said...

Ooh, I love it when someone talks about common law. So much more satisfying than the "penumbra of the Bill of Rights", which is another theory for the right to privacy.

Green said...

Dear Justice Drunken,

You ruled well.

Anonymous said...

You must, of course, reserve the right to change, abolish or adjust said rules at any time for any reason whatsoever. "Just sounding good" is an excellent reason.