My older son Jonah (8) never wants to sit by his 4 year old brother at the table. It’s understandable. They share a room, (I don’t want to share a room with a 4 year old!) and the youngster is a skillful pesterer. He will copy, or sometimes he will touch your food while asking “you gonna eat dat?”. He will also scoot close to Jonah because he adores his brother and wants to be as near him as humanly possible.
Typically, I’ll sit as a buffer between them. But I want Jonah to be loving and empathetic, and I want Ben to feel loved by his big bro, and so when entering a restaurant recently, Ben begged to sit by his big brother, and I said OK. The pouting and whining that commenced from the 8 year old was sternly rebuked by yours truly. And then sure enough, Ben was nuts during the meal. He was over-tired and loud, swinging limbs and silverware haphazardly, touching Jonah’s food, and poor big brother just started to cry in his seat. Little dude was so totally defeated and sad. I got the memo. I switched seats with Jonah and sat between them.
Sometimes you just get it wrong and have to take a mulligan.