Sunday, June 17, 2007

The summer of survival

I want to post video on my blog, but that would require a new skill. I don't have time for new skills right now. I focus on the survival. It is summer afterall.

Tonight as I tucked the oldest into bed I said, "Good night, my sweet boy. My first-born child."
To which he replied, "Yeah, I had it good back then didn't I? I had three years all to myself, before my bossy little brother came along."
Oh yes, I'm thinking of a cliche, wait....oh yes something about the pot calling the kettle black.

This month marks the first full year of the sibling fighting. I remember it well....last summer was clearly the first time the two oldest brothers started to fight.... and they really haven't stopped since.

I wrote this little note.....

JUNE 2006
This is the summer it begins, I suppose. It was bound to happen, but how was I to know it would be so soon?
This morning my two oldest boys woke at their summer sleep-in time of 8am and came downstairs to the excitement of another morning. This week they are going to vacation bible school, which they just love, better than school with more crafts, songs and yummier snacks.
There comes a point of time that every mother with two children dreads. Mine came this morning. I call it the yogurt splitter reckoning. They make six packs of kids' yogurt with three flavors on one side, three different ones on the other. My boys need to have most things they same or better than they other guy. So in the case of yogurt, each kid can eat the same flavor twice, but then there comes the dreadful day when one will have to get a different kind than his brother. You think, no big deal, yogurt is yogurt. Ah yes but that would mean you do not have a child under the age of say, seven. Because one you see has an alligator guy with sunglasses and the other may have a polar bear playing an electric guitar, which if you are three-years-old makes all the difference in the world.
I can usually head off problems by saying, “you get what you get and don't have a fit.”
This morning I thought that perhaps the ebullient mood would distract the junior occupants from yogurt flavor. Oh how wrong I was.
As I'm doing some banal job in the kitchen K, the 6-year-old, says in that poke you in the eye, sing song voice, “I have strawberry banana, and you don't.” Oh no, here we go. Did the president of the United States walk into this room with THE briefcase nicknamed “the football” and push that big red nuclear bomb button by mistake? There is no turning back. The order of what happens next is a blur of tears, finger pointing and banishment to the garage to work things out, and then I had to deal with the kids. You know, I am the grown-up, and as I sit here drinking my Diet Coke in the air conditioning while they are in bible school singing “Love is patient. Love is kind.” I can tell you there are better ways to handle things. I ended it all with an empty threat to never buy yogurt again.
Who would have thought that real sibling rivalry would have begun so soon? They are after all only 6 and 3. We were in Target last week and I spotted the t-shirts that said it all, “Sister for Sale.” “It's my brother's fault.” I could have thought of that. Why not capitalize off of your struggles? My t-shirt would say, “How many times do I have to tell you?” “Please don't touch the cat's butt,” or “Please take the salami off your brother's head.” All words that have actually come out of my mouth.
My husband and I happened to come across some video clips we had saved on our computer last year. The boys were in the midst of preparing for one of their many musical shows in the family room. The shows are complete with instruments, vocals, live microphones, canned background music and are almost always performed in underwear. As two-year-old Q knelt readying his microphone, the older brother rushes up behind him, grabs his arm, peels the mike from his fingers and heads to the fireplace hearth to become the star of the show. Without complaint, Q finds another microphone; it is a broken headset microphone with no headpiece. He shoves it in his mouth and holds it between his teeth to gurgle the backup lyrics to a made-up song by his older brother, while strumming a blue electric guitar.
This year however, we are entering a new era. Three-year-old Q has developed a very vocal mind of his own and very keen sense of injustice. Though he stills spends most of the day following his older sibling around being the student to his brother's teacher, the doggy to his man, the passenger to his' bus driver/engineer, you name it. The minute Q tries, does or suggests something different is when it all begins.
At first, K does try to explain the reasons why he must be the boss and the leader calmly at first, but lately it usually just goes into the full-blown argument. It usually escalates until Q shouts, “I'm gonna trade you for a sister.”
Sadly though he doesn't know that would probably be just the beginning of his problems. Being one and having a sister of my own, I remember the rough spots with both my brother and sister. I am the youngest by about a decade. Despite the age span we still found ways to fight without a problem.
Remember this one in the days before the remote control? “Hey, go change it to channel five,” my teenage brother would order from the white pleather chair. “Why do I have to always be the one to change the channel, ” I would lip back.
“Because you are closer,” he would say. Upon which I would get up and move across the room to the distance the furthest from the TV and say in true bratty little sister form, “No I'm not. Now you are closer.” The inventor of the TV remote clearly must have been the youngest sibling.
Somehow I can talk myself into the fact that the arguing is good for them. These are the battlegrounds for later in life. Siblings are the safe zone where we learn how to get along or not get along with others and pick up the skills for conflict resolution and problem solving.
In the meantime, I wait until my boys leave the kitchen and alone at last, eat all the cotton candy and kiwi banana flavored yogurts by myself.
Anything in the name of peace.


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