But, what I got was an unexpected family meeting.
Earlier that day, when William and Kaleb were cleaning their room, William came out to tell me that Kaleb was complaining about all of William’s stuff on the floor and that it was upsetting him. Experimenting with a new technique, I told William to go tell Kaleb that they should both just worry about their own stuff and not comment on the others. I then waited for Kaleb to come out with a comment, but he didn’t.
I was glad that William had been brave enough to say something. He is the kind of kid who will internalize, bottle it up, and let the resentment brew. Well, I guess that speaking up made William feel better, too, because, before I knew it, he was getting all of his issues off of his chest.
William and Kaleb are very different kinds of people. They have both spent time in foster care and it has affected them in different ways. Kaleb had to fight for everything and experienced a ton of rejection in his childhood. So, he is competitive, a bit of a bulldozer, and extremely sensitive to feeling like his opinions aren’t being heard or that he’s being treated unfairly. What he struggles to understand is that even if his opinions are heard and efforts are made to treat him fairly; in a family of 6, he sometimes still won’t get his way.
William came out of foster care, feeling insecure and worrying that people won't like him. He once told the neighbors that he could swim, when he could not, so that they would think he was cool. (I was glad that I intercepted that one.) Part of his issues with lying have always stemmed from his fear that we wouldn't like him anymore if we knew the truth. We’ve told him countless times that it’s not true and that we will always love him. But, the early years are called formative for a reason and they sure formed the fear in him.
They are both good boys. They are both important. (In fact, that was my meeting catch phrase- that all four of them are equally important.) But, put them together and you’ve got one dishing it out and one taking it. Kaleb is not mean to William and he is definitely not trying to hurt him. But, sometimes, he does, anyway.
So, we all sat there. William and Kaleb went back and forth and I tried to mediate. Meanwhile, Antwan, from my lap, stated that he had no issue. You see, he thinks that Kaleb hung the moon and Kaleb likes that he thinks that, so that works out well. :)
William said that he feels like he is always making Kaleb mad. He feels like Kaleb won’t be there if he needs him because he makes him mad so much. He thinks that Kaleb loves Lizzie more than he loves him.
I explained that Kaleb might get aggravated, but that doesn’t mean that he’s mad. (I also mentioned that Kaleb could be a little gentler with William.) I told William that Kaleb would get over it if he got annoyed with William and that William should try not to take it personally and not worry about it, as long as he wasn’t actively trying to upset him. Again, Kaleb agreed. I assured him that Kaleb would have his back no matter what and Kaleb agreed.
I reminded them, both, that this is still new. It’s only been since the end of June, after all.
Lizzie. I gotta say that I'm tired of this topic. Kaleb has accused us of favoring her, now Kaleb is being accused of the same thing. I explained that Lizzie is the baby girl and there are just different ways that people react to a baby girl. I explained that it doesn’t mean that we love her more, though; just like it doesn't mean that Kaleb loves her more. I repeated my catch phrase about how equally important they all are.
I said to William, “You wouldn’t really want Kaleb to pick you up and cuddle you like he does to Lizzie, right? “
William surprised us by saying that he would. Kaleb pointed out that he is only a few years older than William and it would be kind of weird.
And, in the midst of it, Lizzie came over, anxiously. I asked her if she had something that she wanted to say. “Yes!”
“Ok, go ahead, Lizzie.”
“Robin punched Two Face! Like this! (demonstrated) I didn’t know Robin could do that! (more demonstration)”
She had been playing Lego Batman on her 2DS. She had come over to update us on her progress and, unknowingly, providing comic relief. :)
The way that we all laughed when she did that reminded me that, arguments or not, we are the Parkers and we’ll be ok.
We talked some more. It went on for about an hour.
In the end, I was tired and a bit worried about my boys. Even though, I knew that what I told them was true; it's perfectly normal for siblings to clash.
Then Kaleb did something that reminded me what a gentle soul he is, underneath all of his bravado and defense mechanisms. He called William over. And, he picked him up and gave him a big, cuddly hug.
And, you know what, it was kind of weird. Haha. But, William was thrilled and we're a little weird, anyway.
So, that’s when I knew that we would be ok. Even though, they were back to bickering about Minecraft, the next morning. :)