She has always looked up to him. There are 5 years in between them and from the day she could utter his name, she latched onto him and hasn't let go.
Sibling bonds are hard to break. When you grow up in the same house, with the same parents and same set of rules...you are each other's allies.
Even with the five year age difference, they play tremendosuly well together. Her at the age of 6 is going on 16 in mindset, and he is 11 and still 11. She is super opinionated and loud, he is more laid back and always asks why she is so loud. I always respond to him and say "girls are just loud buddy. Look how loud I am." He shrugs his shoulder and says "Ya, but still..."
She has always adored him and wants to do what he does. She repeats his statements, as if she created them and mimicks his behavior both good and bad. Isn't that always the case? We mimic good and bad that person that we look up to. The good is highlighted and the bad is downgraded in our minds.
Recently I could tell something was "off" with my youngest child. She just wasn't herself. Her noramlly joyful demeanor was downcast and almost angry. After days of thinking she just needed more sleep, I realized that something bigger was going on. And after the umpteenth outburst in a matter of a few days, I sat her down and asked her what was going on.
It took some prying. She held her feelings in like a dog clamped down on a bone. She didn't speak, she just looked at me.
"What's wrong, Ev?"
"Something is bothering you."
"Ev, if something is wrong you can tell me."
I noticed she side glanced her brother from across the room.
"Did Austin do something that upset you?"
The tears fell and she almost whispered "I don't want him to get in trouble."
I finally pulled it out of her that her beloved older brother always seemed annoyed with her. Every time she spoke his annoyance showed. Everytime she sang, he would sigh and say stop singing. Everytime she had an idea, he would say that it was dumb. I noticed it, and would correct him but I didn't realized just how much it was impacting her.
And it dawned on me...Her recent poor behavior really stemmed from feeling rejected by her brother. Her heart broke every time he said or did something mean, and that in turn, was affecting her in every area of her life.
I called him over and had Evy tell him just how she was feeling. How her heart was hurting. I told him just how much she loves him and looks up to him. I then went on to explain how our choices today affect our tomorrows, and how many adults do not speak or want anything to do with siblings because of childhood incidents. I repeated over and over that our CHOICES MATTER, not only for today but tomorrow as well. It's so easy to get lost in the moment and not think of the consequences long term.
I heard the most life-altering and thought provoking statement recently. Be the type of mom/dad that your adult children would respect. This realy struck a cord with me, because that is what we all want don't we as parents? To have our chldren grow up and say 'wow, you are a great mom!" Think about it... our own childhood memories affect how we view people as an adult. I want my adult children to respect me and to view me as a mom that always put their best interests first. Just as I know my son, as an adult, would want the love and respect of his younger sister.
That day, I asked both my children who they wanted to be when they are older, and to picture what that looks like in their minds. I looked my son in the eye and said "what kind of man do you want to be Austin? The choices you make right now often determine who you are in the future."
He looked at his sister and apologized from the heart, with a re-newed committment to make her feel loved. And she lit up, and she was back to her bubbly self. Now does he always achieve that goal? No. Just yesterday I reminded him again of his choices towards her. But he is aware. He is aware that constant teasing and annoyance with her is not the kind of relationship he wants, and he adjusts his behavior.
Because when we get it in our hearts...we automatically change our behaviors.
In our hearts is where love and pain flows. Evy was acting out because of her pain. I have so many times acted out because of pain in my heart. If you can release the pain, we can release the toxic behaviors. I am reminded by my own words, that the same applies to me.... I am the only person that can decide who I am today and who I am in the future. What kind of mom am I? What kind of wife, friend, daughter and sister? Am I makng choices that my future self will appreciate? What kind of heart change do I need? What kind of mindset do I need to shift? I want to always be open to hearing my heart's cries. I want to be sensitive to it's voice and protect it as much as I can. And realize that even when I do mess up, there is always a new day to start over again.