Sunday, November 9, 2014

Can't we all just get along?

It's the weekend. It's Autumn. It's chilly outside. These are times that I like to hang out in the warm, quiet house for a peaceful day where I don't have much on the agenda. A couple errands to run later. Some housework to do. Catching up on e-mails. Meals to plan. A cupboard waiting to be organized.

I should be urging the kids to do their chores right now, but I hear my two youngest in the other room playing. And they are playing nicely. And it's something that is pretty rare, so I don't want to disturb it.

I know the clock is ticking. In an hour (probably much less) it will be all over, likely ending with a dispute and someone stomping out of the room or the Lincoln log structure they are building getting "accidentally" knocked to the ground. But right now they are getting along and exchanging ideas and laughing and I'm clinging to it for as many short minutes as it will last.

The sibling rivalry is what I would say is my most difficult challenge of parenting. And when there are five kids - all of the same gender - there is sibling rivalry. Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of it.

And it's something you expect they will outgrow, but so far it hasn't happened. I'm sure it will subside eventually, but there's a long way to go. When they were toddlers and would fight over the same toy I thought it would get better as they got older and matured and didn't both want to play with the same talking Buzz Lightyear action figure. But, that's not the way it goes. As they get older they get more sly and sneaky, more aggressive, more personal with insults.

I don't mean to paint a picture of a house full of boys brawling from morning 'til night. Much of the time it is peaceful. Violence isn't tolerated. They each have a space of their own where they go to be away from each other. They have some similar interests and have fun sharing in those together. But the disagreements and teasing still happen way more often that I would like. Well, honestly I'd like them to never happen, but I know that is something that is completely unrealistic.

I have six siblings. Three are much older and were out of the house by the time I was in kindergarten, but I have twin sisters two years younger that I grew up with. The truth is we fought. We fought a lot. We fought over Barbies and what TV show to watch and clothes and whose turn it was to do the dishes. Sometimes it was verbal - yelling and teasing and name calling. On occassion  it ended with hair pulling and kicking and slapping. Now as adults we are wonderful friends. But when we were teenagers and someone had taken a hair clip without asking, it was World War III.

The boys have some great moments. One will realize that his brother is busy getting ready for a soccer game and take out the garbage even though it isn't his job for the day. One will spend their own birthday money they received as a gift to buy something he knows his brother will like. There are a lot of those examples and those are ones I cherish. And the ones that get me through the other times when the bickering has struck my very last nerve. I just wish they could get a long. Like ALL. THE. TIME.

P.S. It's been 24 minutes since I started typing this. They are no longer playing together. I heard "stop it" seven times. Called the offender in the kitchen to let him know there were some doughnuts. He ate one and went off to do something in a different room. Crises averted, but no more pleasant conversation and laughter to listen to.

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