Mentos and Coke

cokeAs I start to write this post I am struggling to make it funny.

I just can’t. Because, really, I feel like crying. Is it just me?

Before I get to that, let me remind you of my feelings for our family dog and my track record with kittens.  So it should come as no surprise that the minute I hear our dog tearing through the house at break neck speed after the cat, I get more than a little irritated. The cat hisses. The dog growls. Occasionally there is a stand off until one of us pulls Lucy away and shoos Noona into the basement. It makes my blood boil…but only a little. What truly makes me irrational is the fighting among my kids.

My three fight worse than cats and dogs.  I have struggled to assign blame to one instigator ( it is not always Hadley’s fault,) a set of circumstances ( it is not just cabin fever,) or a lack of effort on my part (more on that in a bit.) But no answer has emerged. They fight at home, in public, at the office, in front of strangers, and even on dream vacations. The crazy thing is individually, they all are so smart, talented and sweet. But, put them together and it is like Mentos and Coke–two awesome things that are downright dangerous together.

Sam is definitely the most likely to attempt to make peace. He is often overheard begging one of his sisters to “Stop! You are going to get us all in trouble!” However, he can be moody. The other day, he came stomping in from outside face twisted like a tragedy had befallen our household. He was beside himself…barely containing tears..beet red in the face. Why?

Hadley grabbed his comic book and rumpled the first page.

I did not know who to be more annoyed at: my destructive, self centered 5 year old, or my 11 year old over-reactor.  So, I screamed at both. Then they both were crying. Then Chris came out and yelled at them again. Then I felt awful. Then the afternoon was nearly ruined–again.

This particular time, Maisy was somewhere quiet–not rolling her eyes or shaking her head in that disgusted way she does. This. One. Time. As in, most other times she is a veritable one man show of head shakes, eye rolls, sighs, under breath grumbles, up the stairs stomping and slamming doors.

Chris tells me I should meet her half way. “Take an interest in something she cares about” he advises calmly. How? How do I take interest in the very things that make me crazy about her?

For her 13th birthday I took her and 5 of her closest friends to Philly for the weekend. Thanks to the generosity of a friend in the hotel business, we had a gorgeous suite. I took so much interest in her “stuff” that  the hotel even sent up a candy plate adorned with the image of Ed Sheeran’s face. He is one of her favorite singers. THEY RECREATED HIS FACE OUT OF SUGAR.  And, what did she say?

“Huh…that’s a little creepy.”  [Shoulder shrug]

At any given time, these are the words you may hear in our home or car:  “She BIT me! She actually BIT me–aren’t you going to do something?” Or:  “Stop being so dramatic –you are such a baby!” Or:   “Seriously GIVE. IT. BACK!” And,  my all time favorite:   “WHAT (really two words) EVER!”

Whatever “IT” is invariably gets confiscated. Hadley ends up on a staircase in time out. Maisy get’s her phone taken away.  And I end up heavy-hearted.

Here is my problem.

I grew up in a house where my parents fought constantly and my sister and I took that out on each other.  I blamed the financial struggles, the inability to fit into our community, and their general disdain for each other for the environment of my parent’s house. I don’t want that culture in my home.

Chris and I very rarely fight. And when we do, it is not in our kids ear shot.  We, thankfully, have NO financial worries. In fact, we  try very hard  to keep our kids from becoming spoiled by “stuff.” We have a great community we are actively engaged in professionally and personally. So, if I have fixed all the wrongs of my parents life…why is there still not a moment’s peace among our kids?

I think about families torn apart by tragic accidents and illnesses. That makes me more angry. How can my kids NOT see how blessed they are to have us and each other?

I hear of siblings that have not spoken to each other in decades. If they can’t be civil to each other now, how are my children going to stay in each other’s lives in twenty years?

Ultimately, it comes down to this: I live for my husband and kids. We race around like crazy people every day to provide a safe, comfortable and happy home.  We do this insane split schedule so that one of us is always home with the kids while the other works–no nanny, no babysitter.  When we can finally slow down, I just crave a Norman Rockwell moment.

Am I not setting the scene properly?  Or,  is the picture that emerges just not the one I want to see?

 

Comments

  1. Ellen W. says:

    I think your kids are doing what comes naturally, fighting for their place, wether it be in your family or in the world. It’s so hard to be the oldest, the youngest and even worse…the middle kid! Growing up my siblings and I fought constantly and we are all just fine. As yong children my identical twin boys would go from being wrapped around one another, legs and arms intertwined to “hating” each other in an instant…they couldn’t be closer now at the age of 20. It will all work itself out, I don’t think you have a thing to worry about. As for the frustration of not having a peaceful home, well all I can say is I don’t think anyone does. And even at 20 my boys still bicker like two old ladies! Have a glass of wine and pretend your on your own deserted island…Ellen W.

  2. Karl H says:

    Your kids are doing what kids do until (as stated by Ellen) until they are out of their teens. I have seen kids that act like this no matter what the parenting style – military parents, hippie/granola/crunchy parents, psychologist parents, “normal” parents – does not matter…the kids will fight. They don’t have the skills/ability to think as rationally as adults do and settle things in other ways (OK, ignore Syria, Egypt, Chechnya, Boston, NYC…alright, ignore just about everywhere in the world). The Normal Rockwell life only happened in a painting. While that one snapshot showed the happy family gathered quietly around the table as the turkey is carved, you didn’t see all the fighting and crying that happened before and after it. But there are the Norman Rockwell moments though – those short bits of time where you can really connect with your kids and have those moments together…but they are just the moments and that is what you will remember. Example: This weekend, my 13 year old daughter and I watched Monsters Inc again after seeing Monsters University (first DVD she had as a small child). She snuggled on the couch with me most of that time and it was great. Norman Rockwell would love it. Then her brother’s feet touched her feet and she yelled at him. I told her it wasn’t a big deal, she got upset and stomped upstairs. Norman Rockwell moment over. Know what I will remember (and she will remember)? Snuggling on the couch watching a movie with her dad. Try to focus on the positives and ignore some of the negatives. {This coming from another person that had parents that fought a lot when he was growing up (surprisingly, they are still together) and HATES the sound of kids/people bickering/arguing sooooo much!!! But I try to let it leave my head as fast as I can. Kids are only kids for a very short period of time and then you find yourself crying thinking of the little babies you used to have fall asleep on your chest/in your arms}

  3. Phoebe says:

    Christine, I don’t think there is anything wrong – it’s life – we were five kids and we fought all the time – now that we’re all adults, we are all close friends–like you and Carol. Being present for your kids, showing them how much you love them – that’s really the best you can do to help them have future strong relationships. In the meantime, they have to fight at home to learn about conflict resolution and how to deal with different personalities. There is a book I’ve reviewed on my blog, “The Five Love Languages for Children,” you’ve probably heard of it (http://listenlearnactandreflect.blogspot.com/2013/03/im-gonna-wash-your-mouth-out-with-soap.html), there is also one for teenagers that may be suitable for Maisy.

  4. Deb says:

    What seemed to help in our house was to crack down on the name calling and labeling. You can disagree without calling someone a baby, jerk, stupid, etc. When we went from “Stop you jerk” to “please stop I don’t like when you do that” it seemed to change the tone of the fights and they are less dramatic and seem not to escalate as quickly. They still fight but they are learning that they can disagree in a civil manner. I’ve told them that they can’t talk to a boss or a teacher that way so don’t talk to your sister that way.

  5. Anonymous says:

    my grandmother told me this and It came to be very true…this is the happiest days of your life, all the noise and laughter both of the kids….wait till they are grown and left the house and it is pin drop silent, and your sitting in the house alone missing them and wishing these times were back again, and they were little again, and they are only young for such a short time. And they live in other states and you don’t get to see them that often.

  6. Sounds an awful lot like my house. I just told my precious tween that her brother worships her, and all she ever does is torment and torture him. I told her that she should love him and protect him at all cost. Then he spritzed his water bottle in her face. So now what?

  7. Anonymous says:

    The answer is right in your waiting room “LIFE isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to DANCE in the rain”

  8. Anonymous says:

    Wow Doc, what a great group of friends you have. Listen to their advice, I couldn’t have said it better. Kids will be kids, siblings strive for individualism but don’t ever let an outsider try to come between them. Their learning, testing their boundaries and only you and Chris can set those boundaries. So in a nutshell, correct them when necessary, love them like you know they’ll be gone shortly and enjoy a nice glass, no make that two glasses to help the tension. If that doesn’t work take two aspirins and call me in the morning. My bill is on the way.

  9. Karl, Deb, Tracy, and Anonymous (s) Thank you thank you thank you…so many great true and helpful points made here today..I actually feel a heck of a lot better…

  10. Diana H. says:

    Great responses! For me… I grew up in a “less than happy” household for so many reasons. Having said that, what I do try and treasure are the happy moments I remember… a canoe trip with my dad, laughs with my sisters (and I have 3). We fought like cats and dogs – I specifically remember throwing an ironing board at my one sister and her throwing the iron back. But that is all a distant memory and we get along fine now. Having helped raise my step-kids prior to having my own son, I realise that the years go by TRULY in a flash – what was once a challenging 6-year old is now a beautiful 22-year old. Where on Earth did 16 years go?!?!?! And I do snicker when reading and hearing about sibling rivalry as I have one wonderful son. But there are also downsides of NOT having siblings. We make up for many of those with a wonderful neighborhood full of screaming, fighting, laughing children!

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  1. [...] patient of mine who travels quite the distance to see me. He mentioned a blog post I wrote about my kids fighting and got teary as he recounted his own similar story. I scurried out of that room only to spend 10 [...]

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