Tuesday, January 8, 2008

He Likes It? He Really Likes It?

When we first moved in almost 2 years ago, Declan and Hilary were an immediate, inseparable pair. They were like brother and sister; they fought a lot, but they always wanted to be together. When one would go to sleep or leave, the other would plaintively ask, "Where's Hilary/Declan?" Erika never seemed to mind.

But more recently, the dynamic has changed. Declan and Hilary ceased to fascinate each other several months ago, and Erika seemed to take more interest in both her sister and cousin. Suddenly, instead of two best buddies, there were three kids with three distinct personalities at play. And while it may have worked for Jack, Janet, and Crissy, three is most definitely a crowd for Erika, Hilary, and Declan.

So now, the kids change alliances in the blink of an eye. Declan and Erika have become fast friends, both eager to play dress-up; he, the steadfast prince, she, an ever-changing array of princesses. They dance, get married, have a baby, torment Hilary... the usual. While Declan and Erika can spend hours immersed in their world of make-believe, they unfortunately do so at Hilary's expense. Sometimes they ignore her. Sometimes they're pirates, and Hilary's the monster they're hunting. Sometimes they're puppies, and Hilary's a bad puppy... you get the idea.

Of course, the roles change all the time (though, not surprisingly, Erika is rarely, if ever, the un-chosen one. Is this because Erika is universally liked or because she's the instigator of the ostracizing? The jury's still out on this one). This past Saturday, it was Declan's turn to be on the outs. Erika helped Hilary put on a hideously inappropriate Britney Spears-ish get-up (exposed nipples and all), then the two girls spent lunch huddled together on one side of the table, Erika whispering mean things into Hilary's ear to say to Declan. (For some unknown reason, calling each other a "mystery" is the worst insult they can come up with.)

Naturally, it makes me sad to see my little boy insulted, but Declan doesn't seem to mind. After the girls left the table, Declan announced he wanted to go after Hilary. "Why do you want to play with Hilary," I asked, "if she's being mean to you?"

"Because I like it when she's mean to me," he replied with a smile, and ran off after her.

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