I have an 11 year old son and a 9 year old son. They are great boys, they also amaze me and drive me insane at times. After spending time trying to mediate the inevitable squabbles that happen, I thought I knew how they worked. The Oldest took on the role of drama queen, easily hurt and wearing his heart on his sleeve. The Youngest took on the role of pesky little brother, more physical and contrary. the tides have turned recently and it took me back to my own childhood.
During Winter Break, The Boys were trying to scare each other for an entire day. Eventually, The Oldest pulled out a large cardboard box and hid inside, waiting for The Youngest to come down the hall. When The Youngest approached, The Oldest leaped out, like a sadistic Jack-in-the box, scaring The Youngest nearly out of his skin. Later that day, same set up, but The Youngest snuck up on the box, scaring The Oldest, before he could pounce. Later still, same set up, The Youngest snuck up again to try and scare The Oldest, but this time, The Oldest was hiding out of sight, but not in the box, and as The Youngest was nearly ready to pounce, The Oldest jumped out and The Youngest jumped out of his skin.
Cut to last weekend, my Sister's Youngest was hanging out at my house and he and The Youngest were teaming up on The Oldest, jumping out from behind corners to yell and scare him out of his skin. By the end of the night, The Oldest was bright red and in tears, afraid of his own shadow. When tucking them into bed, I admonished The Youngest, telling him to not be surprised if his brother tried to get him back. I told The Oldest about how their Tia and I would try to get back at each other. At about their ages, Tia would hide my teddy bear every single night, causing me to cry inconsolably. She would laugh at me, and I would be so angry. As an aside, I slept with that bear from birth through college, so you know, a cherished part of my life. Every morning, to get her back, I would wait at the bottom of the stairs, around a corner in the house, and jump out at her as she came down for breakfast. It got to be so bad that I dreaded going to bed, and she dreaded coming down the stairs.
I let The Oldest stew on that information, and 2 days later it played out.
When going to bed, The Youngest went into his room first, and was just inside his door, The Oldest poked his head in and said "Just one last thing", flipped off the light, and shut the door. Immediately, the screaming of The Youngest, and the evil laughing of The Oldest let me know the revenge had been played. The Youngest ended up in my bed overnight, and The Oldest cried himself to sleep, saying he felt bad for scaring his brother so badly. I think he really felt bad for getting in trouble.
The next day after school, I asked The Oldest if he thought the revenge was worth the trouble he got in. He thought for a moment and answered that it was worth it. We talked a bit about weighing his options and the likelihood he would get in trouble in the future, and that only he could decide if it was worth it. We also talked about letting things go and not escalating everything. He's a smart kid and reminds me WAY too much of myself at that age.
I've decided I will not tell him about Pavlov and the devious way I tortured my Sister, that lasted well into adult hood.
I realize I haven't written about that before, but need to save it for another day...