"Belle, he loves you, he just wants to be with you and do the things you're doing!"
"Belle, if you don't want him to have that toy, then say 'no thank you' and give him something else to play with".
"Belle, just move out of the way - just take your things and move away!"
"Bella! He's not DOING anything - screaming like that is just encouraging him - play with him! He just wants to PLAY with you!"
"Oh for heavens sake Alex! (grabbing any random toy from his hand) This is why they scream!"
"You know what - we are SICK of you screaming every time someone comes near you - if you want to be by yourself and you don't want anyone to touch your things - then you go to your room. We are a BIG family, and we all share with each other." and then our parental rock bottom:
"AMABELLE GRACE! You are TWO YEARS older than him! You are not a victim! Don't just lay there and let him roll on you, stand up and PUSH HIM OFF!"
Somewhere around the time we, a family who does not tolerate hitting of siblings - or anyone - found ourselves telling our daughter to fight back we realized that perhaps another approach was needed. Was it, perhaps that she didn't know HOW to play with the boys? AH! So wise... Now I can't say that we went over this again and again... but here and there we would model "instructional" play with Alex (Jack Jack doesn't quite have the attention span for sustained play with anyone yet - but he's getting there). We walked through puzzles... building with blocks together... reading a story.
As I write this I feel that it's painting Alex in a bad light. He really is the most loving boy. He is bright, inquisitive, (he has torn our house apart from top to bottom), and he loves and is completely devoted to his sisters. All along, Alex just wanted was to play with (and occasionally torment) his sisters - but their age difference made getting along just out of reach for so long. It is with a joy that only parents feel - that one where your heart leaps into your throat and chokes you up - that I can say we are making such amazing progress here.
I don't know when it happened, I'm not really sure HOW it happened, but they are playing together! Like really playing. Laughing, giggling, hugging. Chasing each other around in mutual joy. Amabelle is the BEST little teacher. Alex is a most willing pupil. My heart swells when I witness any of my kids being kind to each other. My heart spills over watching Bella and Alex together. Maybe it's because there were times I never thought it would happen. Perhaps I was being a bit over dramatic, but I wondered if they were destined to a life of constant bickering. That may still come, but for now I am overjoyed to see this new bond forming. What's more they are overjoyed with each other. They have found a new playmate, a new champion, another person to tell jokes to, to make silly sounds with. Another person to make faces at across the dinner table. Somewhere along the way, they became friends, and I couldn't be happier.