We’ve come to point in summer vacation in which Olympic level bickering begins the moment the second child wakes up.
Most of the time, this fighting amuses me. It’s cheap entertainment when you hear,
“Heeeeyyyyyyyy!! Stop blowing air at my head.”
“You said you were hot. I’m cooling you off.”
“Ooooohhhhhh your breath smells like monkey butt.”
“How do you know what a monkey’s butt smell’s like?”
Ah, priceless. Maybe I find them so fun because it takes me back to my childhood. My siblings and I were great friends. People say you shouldn’t have an odd number of children because one is always left out. To which I say exactly! Part of the fun of having two siblings was freezing one out. Unless, of course, the ice-cube was you.
While it’s true it stunk being left out of Battleship or Connect Four, equally stinky was being left with the other sibling as if it was some sort of punishment. My brother and I got along famously. I marveled at his ability to explode, melt, and destroy things. Being near him was an honor, until my sister, who is only one year older than he is, declared us too immature for her. Then Jeff felt more like a booby prize than an Oscar.
Of course, as the little sister, I could win Jenny’s attention back by declaring an injustice done to me by Jeff. A cry or whimper could bring her arms around me. “Leave her alone, Jeff! She’s younger than you!” Ah, the oldest sibling rescuing me. It was pure joy.
And of course, all of this in-family bickering stopped the minute a kid from a different family began picking on one of your sibs. Then all that practice hurting each other’s feelings is used for good as those insults were hurled elsewhere. We’d work together to blast other kids until we’d all be bored and we played kick the can.
Parents, here’s the secret in case you didn’t have siblings close in age: All of that bickering and yelling is just something to do, like flooding the sandbox or playing flashlight tag and purposely not looking for certain people.
If you want the bickering to stop, just make the rule that the kids can no longer play together. Nothing brings kids together like a common enemy.
Now excuse me while I give my son the gold medal for a perfectly executed “I’m not staring at you, I’m staring at the air above your head.”