Marking their territory

This morning I had to talk to our youngest two about ‘marking their territory’. I used the imagery of how cats and dogs frequently wee when they’re outside because they use their urine to mark their territory, to let other cats and dogs know that this is their turf.

Mr Six and I have been discussing these behaviours this last few days, as we have noticed distinctly territorial behaviours happening. Mr Six teases me about comparing them to animal behaviours (which I understand), but they help me to understand and call out for myself what is sometimes happening. So apologies in advance for anyone offended by my drawing comparisons between my kids and my cats!

Little Legs has coped really well with Little Bud’s birthday last week and the subsequent celebrations – cousin sleepover exchange, birthday cake with my sister and family three days after Little Bud’s birthday, etc.

Little Legs clearly sees Little Bud as her biggest threat to our affections, as she is her closest in age sister. Despite constant reassurance, inevitably Little Legs does not believe us. Hardly surprising considering she has only been part of our family for eighteen months of her five year old little life.

One of her coping strategies/fall out behaviours this last few days has been very clearly ‘marking her territory’ around Little Bud.

Last night they were calmly and happily brushing their teeth together. Little Bud finished and left the bathroom. At which point Little Legs leaned across the sink and spat her toothpaste out on top of where Little Bud had been cleaning her teeth.

Calmly. Deliberately.

I wondered whether she had moved across the sink to spit because she likes to make patterns with her toothpaste. No, she was very clear that she was covering over Little Bud’s toothpaste.

When the littler three went to bed a few minutes later, I prayed with Happy Dreamer and Little Bud and then went round to settle Little Legs down. At the moment she loves to pray at bedtime and always prays the exact same two sentences (it’s very cute!).

Last night she prayed her usual couple of sentences and then, word for word, copied what Little Bud had prayed just minutes before.

This morning one of our cats had gone into Little Bud’s bedroom and was sitting on the floor having a wash. Little Bud was sitting beside her stroking her gently and whispering happily to her. Little Legs moved to stand in Little Bud’s doorway until I called her away, calling the cat and trying to tempt her away from Little Bud.

As I’m typing this, Little Bud came in to ask something and I commented on how she looks shattered (at 9 in the morning :oO) and her eyes look tired. We had a cuddle and suddenly Little Legs threw herself at me to try and work her way onto my lap.

So we had a chat about how I was just hugging Little Bud and would give Little Legs a hug in a minute.

This probably all seems like ‘regular sibling stuff’ to many people, but looking through trauma glasses, these two are currently locked in a bit of a territory battle. A battle for our affections. A battle to be top dog. Possibly just some fall out from Little Bud’s birthday, but we’ll never know.

Mr Six has just been doing some of the Theraplay games we have learnt with Little Legs. Little Bud wanted in on the action. So Mummy’s hand cream went onto both girls’ hurts. Little Legs and Daddy taught Little Bud the Go Bananas action song and they all did it together.

Little Legs has her birthday next week. We’re planning how we will manage that and all of the attached emotions. We have a very different birthday celebration planned for Little Legs. There will be no duplication of anything we did with Little Bud last week.

The birthday cake will look different and it will be a different favour.

The birthday treat out will be completely other – location, food, friends.

There will be no duplicate presents, as often happens in our house full of girls who all love similar things.

Each year it may or may not get easier. We’ll see what happens!

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