I sent Isaiah off to church camp today. He will be gone for approximately 74 hours, is an hour and a half away, with kids that are mostly a grade older than he is, and there is very little way to check on him... yeah, I'm fine, why do you ask?
Seriously though, this kid has been ready to go for months - he had a countdown calendar in his room. I never thought my cautious, timid first born would be so gung-ho to leave his family and house behind to go spend time with complete strangers at camp, but he is. (ooh, sudden thought, does this mean we, his beloved family, annoy him that much?) I won't dwell on that.
So the very afternoon Isaiah takes off for camp guess what Huston does? He falls asleep and takes a 2 hour nap... coincidence? I think not.
Huston becomes a different person when Isaiah is gone; he calms down, he plays better with his younger siblings, he rests, he's a bit more outgoing and a bigger help around the house. He's capable of doing lots of responsible things... but when Isaiah's around? He reverts to a whiny, manipulative, overly tired because he refuses to rest, must follow Isaiah's lead at all costs, and fall to pieces if he's wronged type of guy. *sigh*
So what's the solution? I don't know. I wish I did. I praise Huston immensely when he is the big responsible brother and I tell him that he can be that way when Isaiah is around too. I tell him that big and helpful Huston is his true self and he should be that personality no matter who is around. When Isaiah is home, I plead with Huston to rest (he never sleeps), I attempt to give him responsibilities (he'll often want Isaiah to help him or he'll pout that he has to do it), I tell him over and over again that he doesn't have to throw a fit when something doesn't go as planned... and punish him when he chooses to throw that fit (he hasn't thrown even one today)... I've done all that I know to do besides kick Isaiah out of the house (which is not an option, just to clarify).
It's an odd sibling dynamic for sure, they can't live with each other but most importantly they can't live without one another either. They truly love being together. Maybe I'll try switching up the roommates... maybe I'll give Isaiah and Avery a trial run at bunking together - Avery is strong willed enough to not give Isaiah's instructions a second thought, and if Huston rooms with Lillie maybe that will give him the confidence to be the responsible one... that might help.
But still I'm curious what others have experienced... has anyone out there in cyberspace experienced parenting siblings that seem to bring out the worst in each other at times? What did you do about it - cuz for us the root of the problem is that the kids don't even recognize the difference in how they act when they are apart, and it's hard to work to change a habit that doesn't seem to be identified.