From the very start Luccio was very attentive to Isabella, holding her, helping with anything I needed him to do for her and playing with her. As she has grown their relationship has really developed into a beautiful sibling bond. He looks out for her, she takes care of him. She refers to him as her "baby" and often tells me at the end of the day she needs to get her "baby boy" from school. They snuggle on the couch, share toys and make sure each other is included in activities or meals. When Isabella finds herself in trouble or anyone dares to tell her no, she runs straight to Luccio and tells him. And he stomps off to handle the situation for her. God help you if you have wronged his sister. He is a Bear on a mission to defend her. And I have been on the receiving end of his lectures when I have dared to cross her. I have been told more than once she "is just a baby!"
Cenzo usually has a very different role. He is the Alpha Male of our little pack. He is 2 minutes older, but has no doubt taken on the role of First Born. He and Luccio have formed a great alliance and are best friends. It works as long as each knows his place. Luccio doesn't challenge for Top Dog, so all is ok. As far as Isabella has been concerned, she understands that Cenzo is older and has an authoritative position. She steps around him carefully and admires and respects him. But, she knows how to play the game. She won't step down during confrontation, she knows he will always give in to her because she is the baby. So she carefully weighs the odds and counts on playing the baby card to get her way. It works almost every time. And when it doesn't she yells at him and scares the crap out of him!
Cenzo was excited when she was born, he loves babies and was thrilled to have one in the house. He is great about caring for her. He fills her milk cup, gets her snacks, and looks out for her. He is very loving and protective. But, he has more of a boundary than Luccio. Luccio doesn't really require personal space so he doesn't think that other people may need it. He loves to sit on laps or be held or hugged or carried. So he loves when Isabella wants to be snuggled or brush his hair or treat him like a little baby doll. But, Cenzo is more aloof. And Isabella knows it.
He is always polite to her and loving, but doesn't usually seek her out as an equal. Lately it's changing. He is noticing Luccio and Isabella spend a lot more time together. They play and talk and laugh together. And sometimes that mean Cenzo gets left out. He is used to orchestrating playtime and making the decisions and having Luccio go along with it. Now that Isabella is holding Luccio's attention and able to play as an equal things are shifting.
It was most noticeable in the last couple of weeks. The boys were home for school vacation and Cenzo commented quite a bit that he felt "left out, "lonely" and that he thinks Isabella doesn't like him.
I reminded him that sometimes he doesn't include her in playtime with Luccio so she is learning from that example. I suggested maybe he can make an effort to invite her to play and include her in conversations more.
Well, he took that to heart. He even moved his carseat so he could sit in the 2nd row next to her instead of in the back with Luccio. Isabella was thrilled! It was as if she has moved up a bit in the Hierarchy. He has gone all out to try to get her affection and attention. He tries to read to her and play games she will like. He compliments her and tells her how pretty her outfits are and how great her hair looks.
He offers to hold her hand when walking places just like Luccio does. And he has been offering to tuck her in at night. Usually she tucks the boys in, so this is a funny switch. She is loving all the extra attention and I think she realizes she has some power in this. I have read before that sibling relationships can affect the relationships you have later in life and it is interesting to see this happening first hand. I have a younger brother and I am sure we had similar changes over the years but I don't really remember it.
For the most part, Luccio is being a great sport about all of the changes. At first I don't think he noticed much. Then he started to become more aware of the fact that Cenzo moving his seat meant more talking and laughing between his siblings and now he was the one sitting alone. But, he hasn't complained.
Luccio has had a bond with Isabella from day. It wasn't forced and developed naturally. So we didn't have to adjust to it. Luccio just gave his baby sister loving attention, she gave it back. But, with Cenzo it's more of a process and Cenzo is still figuring it out. He wants to have Isabella love him like she loves Luccio. He wants to be her favorite. I try explain to him that you get love by being loving. And that people can love more than one person at a time. That he doesn't have to be "better than Luccio" to be loved. But, he is competitive by nature. He thinks that there can only be One favorite. Isabella is only 2, so she doesn't get that either. So when Cenzo tells her he loves her, she says "I love you too." Then Luccio will say I love you too Isabella. And she says, "no I love Cenzo." Before she was always saying how much she loved Luccio. So this broke his heart. I tried to reassure him and explain that she is just learning what these words mean and that of course she still loves him no matter what.
She is often referring to Luccio as "Good Boy." Which then leaves Cenzo sometimes being referred to as "Bad Boy." I always remind them all that there are NO bad boys or people, just sometimes people make bad choices. Now that the tide has turned and Cenzo is working so hard for Isabella's approval it is very important to him to be "Good Boy." And she has blessed him with the honor of being "Good Boy" a few times this week. Cenzo cannot just accept that, he wants Luccio to then be "Bad Boy." Cenzo had felt left out of their bond and knows that Luccio has always earned the high honor of Good Boy, so now he figures he should be Bad Boy. He will ask Isabella, "I'm Good Boy right?" And she says, "yes, Cenno you Good Boy." Then he says, "Luccio is Bad Boy, right?" But, Luccio does not like that change. I do not like that either. Luccio never worried about that before. As long as he feels loved he never needs someone else to be loved less or not at all. Just as a side note: She never says Luccio is Bad Boy. It infuriates Cenzo to no end.
As part of winning her love, Cenzo has been telling Isabella he is going to buy her things. Every time she does or says something nice to him, he tells her is going to buy her a Barbie car to drive! At first I thought he was doing that so he could somehow win the competition. But, when I talked to him about it I realized he truly wants to buy things for her because he wants her to know he loves her. It's crazy to me that he has learned this at a young age that you can show love with material objects. I told him it would mean more to her if he reads to her or wraps her in a blanket and takes care of her. I pointed out that no one else in the family buys things to show love, we just try our best to be nice to one another.
He seemed to get that point and started to think of things that people have done that are loving, but don't include shopping.
I told them that they are twins. They are brothers, they are BOTH good boys. But, it feels like I am speaking to the air sometimes because no one is listening lately. They are trying to convince Isabella that they are the best, they are Good Boy.
I am sure things will return to normal. We will go back to Cenzo and Luccio being best pals. Luccio and Isabella being each others babies. And Cenzo and Isabella being siblings that love each other. Hopefully they will all be closer and communicate more.
But, I will not miss these days of competing for Isabella. I don't like the set up of one being better than the other. And I know that Cenzo has to feel validated and triumphant in his quest to be loved by Isabella before this competition can truly end. I just hope he can see that he can be her best friend without having to overthrow Luccio.
They have a lot to learn about love and sibling bonds and loving relationships. This is just the beginning of a lifetime challenge. I just pray they can all find love by supporting one another along the way.