Tuesday, January 13, 2009

On literature and sibling rivalry.

My 8yo, Isaac, is having a stonkingly awful time of it recently- and as kids do, he's dishing it out in return. In particular, he would really quite like it if he didn't have an older brother, but I don't see an easy way of making that happen.
What's struck me, though, is the way that the universe seems to be handing me messages. The last two books I've read (Anansi boys by Gaiman and Atwood's Blind Assassin)have both had messages about sibling relationships, and how what we see in them is often part of ourselves. In Charlie's case, Spider is quite literally part of himself, the gifts he inherited from his father, and in the case of the Chase girls one uses her sister's identity to allow part of herself to be known, to be seen, to be accepted. I didn't read the back before I bought but above all else what struck me was the strong emotional response I had- I really wanted to put both books down and run away at times, which is unusual for me. Neither was easy reading.
All of this is making me wonder what the reality is for Isaac, having a sibling so close in age to himself, being slightly younger and feeling (as I suspect he does) that he is always in Alex's shadow. We've been making a conscious effort for some time now to encourage him to have relationships and interests utterly unrelated to his brother and we've never consciously compared them- it's not possible. It's like wool and cotton. I've literally just ordered Faber/Mazlish's book on sibling rivalry from amazon, but any other ideas would be welcomed too.

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