Friday, December 14, 2012

Sibling Truce At Last

Kids fight. I know this first-hand. I remember some particularly spectacular disputes with my little brother that ended in violence – me with a pencil point in my hand, him flung against the kitchen wall so hard he was knocked unconscious (or faked it really well) causing me to hide in the bath tub from my mother. I remember when “I’m rubber and you’re glue, everything you say bounces off of me and sticks to you” seemed like a powerful protection, forcing me to resort to saying nice things.  

My own kids fought just as fiercely. There have been days when I have screamed in frustration when every other word uttered by my cherubs to each other was antagonizing or insulting. I continuously underestimated the topics and situations over which my children could fight with each other. I was horrified by the vehemence with which they spoke to each other. I lamented that they would never be friends. I implored them to remember that they were related and needed to back each other up, and when that didn’t work I reminded them that they were stuck with each other forever! 

This past weekend we headed out to choose a Christmas tree. It is not difficult for me to pull up recent memories of tears and insults passed back and forth in our quest for the perfect tree. The threats given in hushed voices with knowing looks did not quell their battles. Their insults and complaints echoed across the valley of trees causing childless young couples to shudder and me to cringe with embarrassment. As I recall there were always pleasant families, happily choosing and cutting their trees just one aisle over, while we sent someone back to wait in the car if they couldn’t be nice. More than once, my husband asked me, “Why is it we do this again?” 

If this is your family too, then it is with great joy that I offer this glimmer of hope. We chose our tree peacefully this year. As we wandered the rows of trees, the kids joked and gave silly names to potential trees. Then after posing for pictures with the chosen tree, they happily carried the tree up the hill to pay for it. My husband smiled and said, “Do you remember when…” and we laughed.  

I’m not sure when the moment happened that our children ceased their fighting and put down their guns. But sometime over the past year, they’ve discovered that they actually like each other. Sure, there is a nasty word on occasion, but for the most part the teasing is good natured and funny. Instead of hearing shrieks of indignity from the kitchen in the mornings as they get ready for school, I hear laughter. I watch them walk down the drive to the bus stop, chattering about music, computer games, comedians.  

They are developing their own collection of inside jokes. Some I am allowed in on and some they keep to themselves. They call each other by nick names and send each other funny messages on Facebook. They enjoy each other. 

A rare peaceful moment a few years ago.
As I said, I’m not sure what changed. At some point they crossed over an invisible divide. Maybe it’s that the youngest is old enough to keep up with their verbal banter. Or maybe the middle one has mellowed. Or perhaps it’s that the oldest finds them both a good audience. No matter. I’m not asking questions. I’m just grateful that the war seems to have finally ended.

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