One of the aspects of being a father of and to four kids--by now, I have spent more time with Connor than has his Dad--is watching the whole brother-sister dynamic.
I grew up an only child, raised by a single Mom, who had to work late quite a bit when she waitressed, and stopped hiring babysitters to save money as soon as she felt it safe. Let's say I was 9 or 10 when that bridge was crossed.
Not to go on about this, but that situation builds independence, comfort with oneself, selfishness, self-confidence to a sometimes-arrogant degree, and lots of masturbation opportunities. I can only say that I'm curious as to a different existence--two parents, siblings--but not unhappy with how things turned out. I'm sure everyone can say the same because you'll never know.
I played catch with myself, tossing a football and running under it outside; being tackled by the couch inside, and turned out to be a pretty good wide receiver. Had an All-Star Baseball board game for which I invented leagues and kept stats (Ron Guidry threw the only no-hitter in the thousands of games I staged), and an electric football game.
Yes, I had friends, but by the age of 11 (when I read Helter Skelter, twice), I had no problem choosing my company over others', and that holds true today. I would rather be alone than with anyone but family and good friends, or at a party. As my followers are aware, "You know, parties are fun."
Carrie has a sister, but I can't type about her experiences and thoughts on this matter, except to say that one sister is not four kids, so she has to marvel as well.
At times I imagine being a child psychologist, behind the one-way mirror, the main difference is they have no emotional connection. We've all done it--watched a child or two while they're distracted, eating an apple and watching a cartoon. I usually feel honored (the agnostic equivalent of feeling blessed) to be able to see them hug without being prompted because of an indiscretion or injury, or grab one another for a dance, or the nirvana of seeing them make each other laugh.
Of course, the fighting is a given for those who spend so much time together. I'm referring to the kids. I remember doing many stories on wrestlers, and invariably one had started in the sport because of an older brother's involvement, and usually accomplished more due to his learning and beatings suffered at the hands of the mentor. Cliches included grappling in the house escalating to some sort of unplanned remodeling, and gruff affection and awkward acknowledgement of the others' skill and success.
That was the extent of my sibling understanding before Connor-Maggie, then Connor-Maggie-Darcy-Gavin. At its most basic, they always have playmates and chew toys and venting targets and dance partners and will be the ones who taught each other to share and empathize and sympathize and compete, manipulate and defend, listen and collaborate.
Just today Carrie and I were laughing because Gavin has started to come between us when we kiss or cuddle up. They all have for awhile, but it's usually to join in when it takes place in the kitchen, standing--lift and snuggle.
Lately, Gavin is not sharing his Mom, and today I remarked that he should watch it because I'll be bigger than him for another 15 years maybe. Carrie said by then she won't be his target as much as his sisters' friends. Oh, to be Gavin, when Maggie and Darcy's BFFs are around.
We don't put Darcy and Gavin near each other at mealtimes; if it isn't their play, it's their battles, that hinder their feeding. Maggie sometimes seems 5 years older than them, not 15 months--she is the "teacher" on the computer, as they do an educational website, and of course has much more to say about what she wears. Still, the other night, I put Gavin to bed and when I came out of his room, the girls were having a pajama party on Maggie's bed, with a book involved. Contented sigh.
As for Connor, he's all about being the much older brother. They love him and miss him, and vice versa. I hope he shows Gavin how to build Legos and Bionicles, like Connor's Dad showed him. Connor rolls around with them, and helps us parent whether or not we ask him to, and corrals them and laughs at what they say and do. It's got to be good for his soul, I would think.
I am on the lookout and hearout for any special language or hand signals that the twins are supposed to have. All I can detect is this weird thing they do with their middle fingers, followed by laughter and shaking their heads dismissively. Otherwise, they just play together and whale on each other with all of their natural weapons.
Gavin has worn dresses and has put hair things in his hair, perhaps had his nails painted. It's cool.
I said, it's cool. OK?