Examining the Relationship Between School Enjoyment and Sibling Rivalry

Aristotle has been rather resistant about going to school lately. Just the other day, we had the following conversation…

Aristotle: I don’t want to go to school…
Me: You have to.
Aristotle: Why?
Me: So you can learn things.
Aristotle: But I already know everything.
Me: Not everything. You need to study so you can grow up to be something – whatever it is that you decide you want to be when you grow up.
Aristotle: I want to do nothing when I grow up.
Me: You can’t do nothing.
Aristotle: But you’re nothing!

Just in case you’re wondering – no, I didn’t see that one coming, and yes, the verbal punch in the gut sucked the wind out of me. I was speechless for a moment. As another friend pointed out, I’m sure he meant to say that I “do” nothing as opposed to I “am” nothing. Nevertheless, it still failed to remove the sting from his words.

So my son’s new aspiration is to be a house husband. And to ensure that he will really have nothing to do, he intends to have a housekeeper to clean the house and all those horrible things that Mummy has to do.

But I digress… Aristotle’s reason for not wanting to go to school has been: “Because I miss you!” He’s upset that going to school means he doesn’t get to see me for half a day.

As always, whenever we have “issues” with Aristotle, I go into analytical mode in my quest to discover the crux of the problem. Before someone tells me, “Oh, it’s so sweet that he misses you. You should enjoy that before he grows up.” Yes, it’s sweet. But I don’t think he really misses me. Well, I’m sure that he does a little but not so much that it would incapacitate him to the extent of making school unbearable.

So what is the crux of the matter? It’s sibling rivalry. The problem is that Aristotle has to go to school while Hercules gets to stay at home with me. For all Aristotle knows, Hercules could be at home with me having a ball of a time while he has to stick it out at school. It probably didn’t help with Hercules recently in hospital, me having to stay with him the entire time, and Aristotle not being able to visit (hospital policy for children under 12 years to minimise the risk of infection). Although I did try to emphasise to Aristotle what a miserable time Hercules was having (which wasn’t far from the truth since Hercules was having a rather traumatic experience being a pin cushion what with all the blood tests and IV line insertion).

The hypothesis of sibling rivalry was further supported by the fact that whenever my in laws babysit Aristotle while hubby and I run errands, Aristotle rarely calls us to see when we are coming back to pick him up. Sometimes, if Hercules is particularly difficult or clingy to me, we will take him with us. On those days, we receive frequent calls from Aristotle asking when we will pick him up. As long as Hercules is with him, Aristotle knows they are both having the “same amount of fun”. But if Hercules is with us, Aristotle gets suspicious that Hercules might be having more fun than he is.

The clincher was when Aristotle finally admitted to me that school would be better if Hercules was going, too. Unfortunately, Hercules won’t be going to formal school (we will be homeschooling) for another year and a half, at least, so this isn’t going to be a problem that will resolve itself. So what else can we do?

What do you do in the face of a situation like this?

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

One thought on “Examining the Relationship Between School Enjoyment and Sibling Rivalry

  1. No offense, but do you treat them as FAIRLY as possible not only on face but subtly in everything they do? I too get the same sting whenever I praise V’s cousin sister for doing something commendable, , with that she would be oversensitive and think if I’m her biological mother! I praise plainly on what I see a good behavior displayed by her cousin sister and I actually don’t mean so to do a comparison between both and even if I do it’s just an outright comments…yet I’m always ” accused” of not loving her or loving her less compared to her cousin sister…….So I reckon kids nowadays are very sensitive!? Or just mine ( single child) is overly sensitive!? Or only girls that are overly sensitive!? And BOYs too!?


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