The whining that echoes from the couch could be used to deter animals. Honestly, it is so obnoxious sounding that I bet they could play a recording of their high-pitched demanding voices along farm fences and it would prevent any animal from ever getting close.
I don’t even know what they are arguing about this time. It sounds like one person’s arm is touching the other’s leg and it’s making them so hot that they can’t concentrate on the movie they are watching.
“Muuuummmmyyyyy!!! She won’t stop touching me,” he whines.
I ignore it.
The whining continues and with each passing minute my blood continues to boil.
Still, I ignore it.
I hear a crash and find one kid on the floor in tears crying, “He pushed me off the couch!!”
“That’s it!” I yell. I separate them and put each on a different couch where they look at each other and start to giggle. Two seconds ago it was like a WWE match and now that they are giggling because they made their mum mad.
My kids fight with each other. They fight over who chose the last story, who is taking up more space on the couch and whose turn it is in the bathtub.
The most uttered words in this house are probably “It’s not fair” and “But she/he…”
Their fighting drives me batty. It raises my blood pressure and makes me want to stomp and yell and demand they leave the house. It takes every ounce of strength I have to keep cool and I’ve been known to give myself a mom time out behind a locked bathroom door.
Here’s the thing, when you have a baby they give you breastfeeding advice and sleep recommendations. The nurses in the hospital show you how to properly bathe your baby and there are entire workshops dedicated to proper car seat installation.
But what happens when they aren’t babies anymore? What happens when it’s no longer just about keeping them alive, but it turns into actually teaching them how to navigate the world?
No one tells you how you’re actually supposed to raise them.
My job as a mother has changed now that my kids are no longer babies. My job as a mother is now about helping them become happy, healthy and productive adults. Almost every second of their life is a learning opportunity for them.
They will learn so much about the world from their relationship with each other as siblings. They will learn about love and loyalty and about give and take. They will learn the art of negotiation and conflict resolution. They will learn how to deal with difficult people and most importantly they will learn that sometimes life just isn’t fair.
All of these valuable life lessons can be taken away from the sibling squabbles, but not if I am always stepping in to try and resolve their conflict.
I want to step in.
For purely selfish reasons I want to step in. My desire to send my two scrappy children to their separate corners lies solely in the fact that their arguments sound like nails on a chalkboard to me; the noise is unbearable.
It’s not because I think their arguments will leave a permanent mark on their lifelong friendship. My need to step in is due to the fact that I prefer silence to chaos.
Sometimes I will offer possible solutions that don’t involve intensely loud volume or tears of frustration. Movie night confrontation has been resolved by putting the name of the movie we want to watch in a hat and randomly picking a piece of paper that will reveal tonight’s viewing pleasure. Not only have we avoided the tears but it’s become a game. Everyone understands that we will be watching whatever movie is selected, without protest and without negotiation attempts.
Learning the dynamics of their relationship with their sibling can be their first taste of relationship reality. They will not go through their whole life without disagreeing or butting heads with someone.
My job is not to step in and solve their problems for them, my job is to give them the tools to figure it out on their own.