If you hadn't noticed, we have a rather large family by today's standards. Four kids isn't so common anymore. We also add one teenager each August through hosting foreign exchange students. The addition temporarily throws everyone into turmoil while we figure each other out, and learn our new relationships. When the student leaves each year, we again must adjust relationships. This year, our student had family needs in her home country and left early. Usually, we only have the summer, full of summer camps, to adjust to our family of six again. This year, our student left in February, so we have much longer with only our nuclear family.
Rory has been pushing the boundaries of childhood anyway, but having a teenage roommate and siblings has pushed her harder to find herself as an older child. She has always pushed the limits of her age, and acted more mature. I do believe this is more profound given her older temporary siblings. I don't think this is a bad thing, though.
However, Will is struggling with this new person Rory is becoming. He feels he needs to hold on to her childhood as he holds onto his own. He knows their relationship is going to grow and change, but as he battles with change in general life, he is experiencing difficulty with this new relationship.
Leigh and I have a date night each week where we spend time together without children. Usually, we stay home and kick them out of the living room. After moving to a downstairs bedroom, Will realized this as the perfect opportunity to do some bonding with Rory. Leigh and I agreed and they chose a show to watch on Netflix. Will loved the show. Rory thought she would, but didn't. She wasn't completely honest initially about her dislike, and Will thought she did enjoy the show.
After a sleep-over and on three hours of sleep, Rory divulged, not so kindly, she didn't in fact enjoy the show. While Will revels in the slower momentum, Rory was bored. Will saw this and Rory's subsequent disposition as a personal attack and as though she wasn't interested in spending time with him at all. I thought his difficulty was about the show, until I realized he was upset by the idea that he was going to lose his relationship with his sister. When I specifically asked what he was truly upset about, and suggested the relationship to be the real problem, he completely broke down.
Will desperately wants to maintain positive relationship with his siblings. When they all want to play the same games like LEGOs and Transformers, maintenance is simple. Rory isn't a young child anymore, much to my chagrin. Will is trying to grow himself and meet her where she is. He has decided to take this step.
Rory understands now what Will's goal is, and I am confident she will work with him to make this happen. They might watch 17 shows together before they find one they like. They might play board or card games together too. In a few years, they might go to fast food places nearby together. We have to give them the freedom to grow their own relationship so when they are adults, they still want to talk to each other. They know each other. They are involved in each other's lives.
The meltdowns we walked through with our oldest two children last night were those that may shape the rest of their lives for the better. While I felt defeated during Will's sobbing, I knew I was letting him grown. I felt hated during Rory's frustration at her feelings we were punishing her, but again knew I was letting her learn life lessons the hard way. My feelings cannot influence how I address and teach my children. Often, they do. I think I kept them at bay last night.