“I know, why don’t we put all our money together? Like a team? And I’ll look after it.” Do you have a Jedi Master in the family?
If you have more than one child you will know – older siblings can trick their juniors out of anything. In our house, my oldest son (age 8):
Always gets the best.
Always gets the most.
Always gets what his brother has.
How does he do this? It’s not (usually) force. No. It’s more subtle than that. Harder to accuse him of. Harder for his younger brother to defend against. It’s The Force. Through the power of the Jedi, my oldest can convince his brother to give him anything he wants. Not only that, but be happy about it.
I sometimes listen to their exchanges open-mouthed at my oldest’s bare-faced cheek. Do these mind tricks ring any bells?
“This [random toy from gift shop] is really cool, isn’t it? It’s cooler than your one. Why don’t you have this one? It’s really cool. Let’s swap.”
“Do you want a go with my one [broken stupid glow stick thing from Fireworks Night]? I’ll hold yours…”
“If you throw a 3 you have to go down the nearest snake. But I don’t, because I’ve got a red counter.”
“I’ll be banker.”
“Shall we put all our Match Attack cards together so we’ve got more? Let’s put them in my folder.”
“Look – you can have all these! [pile of pennies] And I’ll just have these ones [handful of pound coins]. See, you’ve got more!”
“If you get that ball in, it’s 3 points. I get 5 points for this one. No, this ball’s a bit hard for you though, isn’t it? That ball is better for you.”
Does he even realise he’s doing it? I’d like to believe that he’s completely guileless and indeed it often appears that he is genuinely acting in his brother’s interest. Even if he is consciously conning his kid brother (as he obviously is, sometimes), that’s just what older siblings do, isn’t it? Everyone knows the age-old rule that whatever his sibling has, a child wants. When we buy our boys anything, by the time we’ve got home, my oldest will have convinced our middle son to swap. Having previously convinced him to choose that one in the shop. Even though I’ve said to him to get the same thing as I know he wants it, really. He just likes to have his cake and eat it. Don’t we all?
I’m the oldest of six and I don’t remember using these sort of mind tricks. But then again, I don’t remember ever not getting my own way, either… (To be honest, I don’t remember much full stop – the babies have eaten my brain!)
The Sibling (Doesn’t) Strike Back
Of course, my middle son (age 6) regularly comes to me with complaints about his big brother nicking his stuff or cheating to win, and I have to intervene. But more often than not, he is fully compliant with the whole business, and if I tell the oldest off for making him swap, he’ll side with him and insist that it was his idea and he’s fine with it. Ironically, it was he that went to school as Obi Wan Kenobi for World Book Day (yes, I know, a tenuous “book character”), whereas it’s his brother that’s the Jedi.
Obviously I’m glad that my boys are close and play together all the time, and I suppose them closing ranks against me is part of them forging their bond, and I shouldn’t take it to heart. But I still sometimes gibber like a Wookiee when my sweet little middle boy gets conned out of his pocket money, his Christmas present, his victory at Uno.
But then the other day, I heard my middle boy say to our three-year-old:
“The [ancient, windshield-missing] Gup A is way cooler than the Gup I (that our youngest got for Christmas and still makes noises as I’ve managed to not let them put it in the bath yet – result!]. Shall we swap?”
What can I say? He’s learning from a Master.
Do you recognise this dynamic or is my son the only junior Jedi Master around?