Monkey, 8, really does seem to adore her big sister Bunny, 13.
She loves to spend time with her, she looks up to her.
Sometimes you might not know that though.
Tonight, Cabana Boy and I came in from running errands, and as usual, before I am even in the door properly, Monkey starts to ask me for something.
This time it was a snack.
Okay fine, but I did ask her why she was asking me for one right now, instead of asking Bunny for something before we got home.
And yes, I was mildly irritated, because it felt like a bedtime delaying tactic - so Monkey went into deflection mode, using her patented huge-eyes-in-troubled-expression technique.
"I did ask Bunny but she said that I had already had a popsicle after dinner." It is hard to describe the way she uses her voice, if you are not used to it, you really believe that she has been hard done by. Even now, I still am sometimes halfway taken in.
Turning to Bunny, I demand to know why she did not feed this poor small child, who has already known too much deprivation.
Bunny is stunned - "uh, I did say that about the popsicle but I was just reminding her of it and then I asked her if she was hungry and she just sort of wandered away...so I didn't think it was a big deal!".
My stomach starts to churn and Monkey can see it in my face -
"Oh!" She says hurriedly, "I guess I didn't hear you Bunny! Next time I will listen more carefully!" and then she tries to slide out of the room.
This is one of the hardest things to know how to deal with when it comes to my youngest.
It takes me a while to recover from, I wish it didn't but it does.
Mostly I try to be calm and describe exactly why I am upset and be clear that she understands what I found to be wrong.
I also try and be just as clear about all of the things that she does right. Unfortunately, it is the annoying and upsetting stuff that seems to take centre stage.
Unlearning how to be manipulative will just take time.
Buddy has a thing about shoes.
Last summer when they first came, I bought them both sandal type shoes and running shoes of their choice, at our local little department store.
When they wanted the trendy crocs a month later, I had them use their own money (future allowances) to buy them.
The deal here is, Mom and Dad will buy you shoes when you outgrow them or they are worn out and if you want any others, well - that is why we give out an allowance.
So in the fall, when he needed a slightly bigger size sneaker, I bought him a pair, again he was there for the choosing etc. Then in the spring, Monkey needed new sneakers, hers were actually so small they were cramping her toes up.
That is when things went a little crazy.
As soon as we hit the store to buy them, Buddy started going on about how much he needed a new pair, how worn out his shoes were.
I looked at them, they were fine, yes their was a tiny, pencil eraser size hole in the side of one, but they fit and would be great to "wear out" over the summer, I explained this and said no.
He was really unhappy and sulky at the time and then over the next weeks, I noticed he was not wearing his sneakers at all, ever, always the crocs, which aren't always that appropriate, like at church or on a chilly or wet day.
When I asked him about it, he would get sulky again and describe how horrible his shoes were and pick at the hole in the side of them as he showed them to me.
This happened a number of times but I held firm and one day he actually wore them, I think he forgot that he hated them. Later, when I asked him to take them out front to knock some dried mud from them, I think he remembered again, because I had to do an intervention, he was so violent with the darn things and he starts in on me again - they are terrible, they suck, he is never going to wear them again!
Now I lose my cool. Fine! Fine! We will just throw them out then and I do.
Now he has been down to one pair of shoes only, the crocs. Today, the strap on one broke while he was scootering and now they are no good for running in.
Tomorrow we have to figure out how to handle this.
I think he is going to have to pay for his own pair of shoes if he wants another set.
I don't think he is going to like it.
(BTW he has a very generous allowance and has a great deal of money saved in his bank account, so this is not a hardship case.)
And yes, in his past, he has had to stay with one pair of shoes for way too long and they would hurt his feet, etc. etc. so I know some of why shoes are a big deal to him but I don't think we would be helping him by buying him a pair everytime he thinks he should have a pair.
I really don't.
But I kind of want to anyway.