Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lesson #37: Love Is A Battlefield

Pat Benatar wasn’t wrong. I bet she wasn’t even talking about romance; she probably just had a couple of kids at home waging the next world war. Think about it: “I’m trapped by your love and I’m chained to your side”. Sounds a lot like parenthood don’tcha think?

My kids don’t hate each other alllll the time but they definitely go through cycles where they constantly bicker anytime they are in shouting-or striking- distance of each other. I’m not sure whether it’s the time of year, the changing seasons or if there’s a full moon coming up, but right now we’re smack dab in the middle of one of their cycles and there’s no end in sight. From the moment they wake up in the morning to the time they go to bed at night, its one big battle of wills. Whether it’s the 7 year old being overly sensitive and/or bossy, or the 4 year old being purposely destructive or pushing someone’s buttons just because he can, it’s one thing or another.  Every. Second. Of. The. Day.  I might as well start wearing black and white stripes, as many fights as I’m refereeing on a daily basis.

It starts about the time they wake up and start arguing over who gets to lay beside me when they come into my room. This is the most absurd and irritating of all arguments to hear, especially at 6am, because Daddy is already at work at that time so they lay on either side of me which means THEY ARE BOTH BESIDE ME! But whoever gets on Daddy’s side of the bed is the one who is lying “by mom” apparently. The other side of my body doesn’t count I guess.

Toys aren’t even fun anymore. Case in point: Legos. They recently decided they love to fight over play with the slightly larger set we have. That is, until they want the same piece and come to a battle of epic proportions over said piece. It typically goes down like this: they start arguing over the piece, the younger one tires of that noise and goes all primal, smashing the older one’s “ship”, sending him into a screaming, teary rage. This is a bit of a sticky situation in which I find myself a little torn about how to respond. On the one hand, Mr. Destructo should absolutely not have smashed his brother’s work. That was unkind and wrong. On the other hand, Lord Business also needs to realize that Lego creations don’t last forever. You can’t hoard 2/3 of the Lego set on the premise of it belonging to your “ship” that can never be broken, ever.

The 7 year old has recently started expressing that he wants some space. He will often take a book and attempt to sit in a quiet spot to read. Of course, his brother follows him wherever he goes. This continues as they move from spot to spot until Older gets frustrated and starts yelling at Younger and they wind up in yet another epic battle. That battle typically goes down like this: older screaming that he hates having a brother and wants to be ALONE while Younger cries that he doesn’t have anybody to play with and just wants to play. Younger quickly tires of all the words and resorts to aggressively chasing after Older as Older screams “HE’S TRYING TO HURT ME” at the top of his lungs. Another sticky situation as a parent. We all need our space, and I fully support Older being able to move away and have some time to himself. That said, you are part of a family and can’t expect that you can be by yourself at all times. TRUST ME. If alone time were that easy to come by, Mommy wouldn’t have a headache right now. And try explaining to a 4 year old that his brother doesn’t want to play with him because he always breaks his work, tries to hurt him, and won’t listen to him. It’s kind of like explaining algebra to a cat; he just doesn’t get it.

I wondered whether it was that they were both boys, or that they are fairly close in age that was fueling the fires of discontent, but in talking with a few other moms it seems that neither of these things is the case. A friend with boys older than mine echoed my experience of them egging each other on and bickering over anything and everything.  A neighbor with daughters nine years apart in age shared that the bickering starts the moment the oldest walks in the door at her house as well.

Perhaps the changing of the seasons, with one day a summery 84 degrees and the next a chilly in contrast 61 degrees is getting to everyone. Maybe it’s the school year coming to a close and the impending change that is sneaking into their subconscious minds and causing discord. Or maybe they’re just brats. Your guess is as good as mine. I keep thinking about how they’re both going to be in school all day come September and it gets me through the day. Until I remember that by then, or shortly thereafter, I will be the sleep deprived mom of a new baby AND two battling school agers. The cherry on top? I just realized this morning that by the time the 4 year gets through the bratacular phase, the baby will just be entering the bratty years. I’ll have at least one child acting like a giant brat for the next 6 years, and by that time the 7 year old will be a teenager. Dear God. Pass the Xanax.    

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