These are challenging days in our house, in the area of siblinghood. Four-and-a-half is a creative, powerful, volatile, and angry age. Two-and-three-quarters is sweet and delightful and stubborn. Almost-thirty-seven and Almost-thirty-nine are tired and cranky. Year of the Rabbit, age of Aquarius, who knows why but there is a lot of arguing and teasing and wrestling and headlocks and screaming. Did I mention the screaming?
Marilyn at A lot of Loves wrote about sibling fighting the other day. She has the same ages as me in her house, or at least the same age spread. She pretty much nails it. I have read many books, including the bible, Siblings Without Rivalry, and had a lot of practice, so all things equal, I know how to behave with bickering and full-on body slamming. However, knowing what the right thing is to do and doing it are separated by a giant gulf sometimes. And that gulf is filled with screaming, so sometimes you just want to stay on your side of it, you know?
I really don’t believe there is anything abnormal about the way my kids interact. It is incredibly frustrating to deal with, mainly because I am an adult. I am comforted to see each of my children interact with other children and they behave as though they wrote the textbook on empathy and kindness. It is only with each other – and with me – and with their father – that they let out the screaming demons. I KNOW this is as it should be, that it’s because they trust and love each other and me and their father, that if they were nice and compliant at home I would worry about them being kleptomaniacs or sociopaths. I KNOW. But sometimes knowing and just wanting them to shut up for ten minutes is separated by a giant gulf. Etc.
This morning, while I unloaded the dishwasher, Trombone was eating his breakfast and Fresco was playing nearby. I overheard the following conversation:
Fresco: You have cereal. And I ate all mine. I WIN!
Trombone: YOU DON”T WIN.
Fresco: Ack! Trombone you are making the scary face that scares me! [terrible, wolves-eating-his-testicles noise]
[I wince but ignore]
Trombone: [scary face]
Fresco: But Trombone, can’t you be my friend?
Trombone: No, I’m BETTER than your friend. I’m your brother.
Fresco: But, but, but aren’t you my friend?
Trombone: I’m your brother. I help you when you fall down and I kiss your knee if it hurts and I tell Mommy if you need something. We get to play together all the time!
[I melt with love but continue to ignore]
Fresco: You are my best brother! [pron: bruddah]
Trombone: And we get to live in the same house! With friends, you only get playdates. Brothers are way better.
(I had to spoil the magic by asking if either of them would like a sister [I’M NOT OFFERING I’m just introducing the concept of GIRLS into the house every now and again] and they looked at me like I had seventeen heads. And said no.)
It’s not just a cute exchange, it’s also an indication (much needed) to me that they know how valuable their relationship is. They know how to behave and how to love each other. I guess it’s just that sometimes there’s a giant gulf between knowing and doing. For everyone.