A Sleep Deprived College Student's Advice Surviving Lockdown With Siblings

Monday, June 29

By Sophie Byrne


Siblings. You love them; you hate them. At the end of the day, you're partners in crime! That is, if they're not playing the role of the snitch.

I was lucky at first. My two older sisters had already left the nest by the time quarantine started. Me at home alone with the parents? I was basically a toddler again. Babied and pampered and coddled. Of course, I still had online classes and assignments to remind me that my life wasn't all rest and relaxation. 

Then, the harmony that once reigned was overthrown by a small, grumpy toddler with attachment issues. 

With a 15 year gap between us, I was a little unsure around him at first. Our first impressions consisted of screaming, random tantrums over bananas, and the need to copy around 30% of my everyday routine. Saying I felt "overwhelmed" would be an understatement. His shrill shriek constantly calling out for my mother, for the smallest and most random things: lining up his toy cars, telling her there's a bird in the yard, or even just to remind her he exists. Hey, buddy, that's my job.

By fostering my cousin, my parents are doing a good thing. They're promising him a better life. A life where he can be the true toddler he wants to be - even if that includes terrorising our poor dogs, who cannot seem to escape no matter what corner or cranny of the house they run to. He will find them, and he will pet them with an unneccessary amount of force. Thankfully though, I haven't needed to set my own alarm to wake me up for my early morning classes; even on different levels of the house, that signature scream of his can wake up a dead man, which is what I hear at roughly 7am every morning. A time at which I wish I was a dead man sometimes. 

It's not a bad lifestyle though, living with a two year old. Once you manage to get down the do's and don't's, life finally manages to straighten up and become easier. You see the cuter sides of him such as the excitement over the little things and the amazing ability to be amused by absolutely anything. The list could go on but - and I'm sorry to any super talented two year olds reading this - it wouldn't go on much longer. If I've learnt anything from this experience thus far, it's that two year olds are unpredictable and ever-changing. Mercy to anyone who messes up around one. 

My rules to surviving this new life are simple: become a ghost, only be seen when neccessary, and do not eat any valuable snacks in sight. Trust me, like sharks scrambling for chum, it becomes a frenzy. Still, he makes for nice company when you're looking for a nice one-sided conversation. 

I'm not bad with kids; I'm not hateful towards them. They just confuse me and scare me ever so slightly. And by slightly I mean more than anything else in the entire world. The way they can be so happy and smiley one minute and in the blink of an eye they turn into demon Jack-Jack from The Incredibles. How does one even calm down a demon child? What needs to be done? Is a banana really all it takes? You really think with the stress of one screeching toddler chanting 'nah-nah' at me I'll be emotionally okay enough to actually find and prepare a banana for you? It's psychological torture. It's easier to just loiter in my bedroom like a trapped spirit, waiting until the halls of the house are empty before roaming freely. 

In short, I'm only good with kids when they're good with me. That's the secret on surviving lockdown with siblings. Timing is everything. Make sure they're in a good mood, they've had their banana and they're content playing cars. Follow those rules, reader, and you'll be a-okay. That's my promise to you. 

I am not responsible for any sibling discourse. That is not my problem, friend. 

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