She can hold her own

Whenever I tell people that I have 8- and 10-year-old sons and a 4-year-old daughter, there is almost always a comment about “How nice it will be for her to have two older brothers to look out for her growing up.”

I’m still waiting for the day that she needs their protection.

My guess is that she probably won’t.

When my baby girl was just a baby, I remember sitting on the couch feeding her. My oldest was sitting next to me and announced that his sister was “boring.”

“She just eats and sleeps,” said my then 5-year-old. “When will she be able to play with us?”

I laughed and told him that before he knew it, his little sister would be getting into all his stuff and bothering him to frustration.

He giggled.

He’s not giggling now.

“Mom! She went into my room and pulled apart my Legos!” he yelled down the stairs a few weeks ago. My daughter was sitting playing on the kitchen floor with a smirk on her face.

“He shouldn’t have taken my cookie,” she said.

Time out.

Just last year my boys used to think it was really funny when she would get irritated and hit or kick them. They are so-o-o-o not laughing now.

My daughter made her oldest brother cry the other day when she kicked out at him and hit him in the face, because he took her spot on the couch.

I’ve always discouraged hitting, kicking or hurting of any sort between my kids, but it’s a pretty futile task with two boys. My daughter, unfortunately, gets right in the mix now.

She’s pretty tough.

Out on the backyard trampoline they all tackle each other and wrestle around. If someone gets hurt, it typically is one of the boys. Seriously.

Obviously I don’t encourage this behavior. My daughter has been spending a lot more time in time out lately.

However, I tell my sons they aren’t exactly blameless in this situation either. She watches and learns from them. I used to warn them when they laughed at her hitting, they were encouraging it, and some day they would be sorry.

They seem pretty sorry about it now.

My baby is turning 5 in just a few months. Next fall she’s going into kindergarten.

When my boys started school, I was really nervous. I wondered if they would be able to handle themselves — not academically, but on the playground.

This youngest child of mine, I have no qualms about.

Even my boys’ friends don’t mind her hanging out with them when they are over. The mother of my 10-year-old’s good friend told me the last time she came to pick her son up that he doesn’t like playing with younger children, except for my daughter. “He says, ‘Mom, she actually PLAYS with us,’ ” she said.

While I don’t appreciate my sons teaching my daughter rude behavior, like burping and tooting, or that they’ve taught her to be so physically tough, I guess there is an upside to being the little sister of two rough and tumble brothers.

Chances are she won’t need them to protect her in coming years.

But the strong sibling bonds they are forming let me know if she ever did need help, my boys would be there.

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