Friday, March 17, 2006

Using sibling rivalry to my advantage

My twin boys will be 13-years-old in just one week. Though most times with them have been enjoyable, there have been those times where being the mother of twins has been much more a challenge than I'd ever expected.

When the twins were in second grade, I had to make the painful choice of separating them further by holding one back a grade. I wondered if there'd ever come a time when the one I held back would forgive me and at times I wonder if he ever really has.

While one seems to breeze through school with good grades, strong attention to detail and an incredible ability to stay focused on the task at hand, the other seems to really struggle in those same areas.

For a long time I tried to figure out just what would cause such a difference in twins - blaming myself at times, blaming the fact that my ex had gotten drunk and shaken him so hard another, being a premature baby or even his struggle with health problems, allergies and even feveral seizures early on. Regardless of what the cause was, there was obviously a problem and I obviously wasn't helping - no matter what I did.

Finally, I had one more bright idea that I'd hoped would work. That being to use the whole sibling rivalry thing to my advantage.

Both boys love earning money and both love to "out-do" the other - life itself is a challenge! Whether it's a race to see who could take the quickest shower or who can clean their plate the quickest, it's always a competition.

I decided to hire the one who excels in school to tutor the one lagging behind. At first it went over like a lead balloon for the one who would be in the learning seat, but after I explained to him, the quicker he brought his grades up and kept them up, the quicker he could play Donald Trump and tell his brother, "You're Fired!" He kind of liked that idea and we went with that.

The one teaching got right to work while the rest of us negotiated what his rate of pay should be. We'd decided on $20 per week. That's quite a bit for a 12/13 year old and he was thrilled. Of course this stirred something in his brother of wanting to fire him all the quicker.

Yesterday was the day of reckoning. Mid-term report cards came home! Was the idea working? I was on pins and needles just waiting.

When I looked at his report card, I was as absolutely as proud as any mother could possibly be. Not only in the fact that a D- had been brought up to a B+ but an F had been brought up to an A+.

I am so proud of the one making the improving grades and at the same time I am very proud of the other for having the patience and determination to lift his brother up and help him succeed.

What a wonderful and proud mommy moment!


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