Siblinghood: The perfect place to sharpen your negotiating and impulse-control skills.
* * *
Does this scene look familiar? This one might too.
I never wanted a child. I always wanted children.
Siblings, confidantes, compadres, chums. Tattlers, teachers, accomplices, antagonists. Rivals, secret-keepers, scapegoats and partners-in-crime. Mentors and tormentors.
I wanted wagon pullers, swing pushers, fort builders and sand-castle destroyers. I wanted a full table, too many backpacks, and commas on our Christmas card.
I wanted a firstborn, a middle, a baby. I wanted to marvel at both the reliable and the shattered stereotypes. I wanted shifting alliances and third wheels. Teamwork and the circling of wagons.
For better or worse, I wanted individual players in the ultimate team sport. Sharing the same space, fighting for the same oxygen. Believe it or not, I wanted splash fights, inane arguments, thrown elbows in the hallway, imaginary Do Not Cross or Else! lines.
I wanted Your fault! Get out of my room! Gimme that back! No fair! Because I knew, if thoughtfully tended, these battles could give birth to the flip side: The impromptu hugs. The late night whispers. The collaborations and negotiations. The I’m sorry. That’s OK. Sure you can come inside my hideout.
I never anticipated how immense the task would be, but I even wanted the challenge of finding energy for each unique personality. I wanted to stretch and defy my expectations, again and again and again, about what children (my children) are supposedly like. I wanted to learn to see, truly see, the individual before me. To make every child feel heard though their hearts speak entirely different languages.
There are countless moments–flash floods of drama and aggravation–when I forget how much I longed for this gift of siblinghood. But desires this deep are not easily dismissed.
And it often takes just one sidelong look, one inside joke, one tender gesture, to bring me back to my dreams and watch them come alive right before my eyes.
* * *
If you liked this post, consider giving me a vote in BlogHer’s Voices of the Year. Sibling Revelry is nominated in the Visuals category. My mother-daughter story, On Being Nine, is nominated in the Heart category. Thanks, y’all!
It’s that time of year…time when the rivalries get a little intense, loved ones pick sides, and a lot of time is spent negotiating who wins what when.
But who am I kidding? That’s every season around here. As a mother of three, I’m constantly juggling the barrage of questions and demands thrown at me from the little people in my life. Always at the same time, and usually requiring vastly different parts of my mental energy or physical self.
It can be maddening, I tell ya. But thanks to my new play-off system, I am able to let each child’s issue battle it out with a worthy competitor. And if the demand is deserving of my time, then it just might win the highly coveted spot as Champion of Mom’s Attention.
As I mentioned last week, I’m filling my precious kid-free hours by making plans and setting goals for the new year. This can be a stressful exercise for someone with lofty ambitions, limited time, ample fear, and a newly adopted Omigod I’m 40 and I Gotta Make Something Happen tendency.
But I’m pushing through…armed with the reassurance that if my career as a writer and photographer falls through, I can always manage my kids’ wildly successful careers as the next Jackass stars.
My two biggest kids are spending the week at Camp Grandma, so Smiley is pretty much running the show around here. After quizzing me a thousand times about his siblings’ whereabouts, he finally relaxed and asked me to transcribe his To-Do list for the day.
1. Find all of Rascal’s Star Wars figures and rip off their arms. Then carry the mutilated appendages and various tiny lightsabers around in cupped hands, repeating “Mama, where Obi-Wan? I need fix Obi-Wan!”
2. Grab that Father’s Day gift I never got to play with yesterday. Push the buttons nonstop until Mom tries to distract me with her favorite bait-n-switch move. Nice try, Mom.
3. Make a beeline to the backyard fort and dismantle Doodlebug’s carefully organized piles of mulch, acorns and rocks. Remix the ingredients and make Mama a birthday cake. Smash the birthday cake and throw rocks at her.
4. Stomp around in my brother’s nasty, worn-out crocs.
5. At lunchtime, declare loudly that “I not like pasta today!” and demand “bunny crackers and strawberries and cold milk in that cup. No, THAT cup.”
It’s good to be king.