My mental health is at an all time low this week! The final straw consisted of two separate events. Oh…who am I kidding, the final straw was like a huge haystack spread all over my house with me under it and my kids jumping on top of the pile.
I went into my gazebo to get some peace and quiet and to work on a writing project. I had just gotten into the zone, when my youngest child runs outside, screaming his bloody head off. He was so loud that I looked behind him to see if an ax murderer was chasing him. After I checked him for injuries and after he drank some water, the horrendous story came pouring out. During a typical fight and while he was calling for mom, or rather screaming for mom, his brother spit in his mouth.
Yes…you read that right, his brother spit in his mouth to get him to stop yelling.
Now before you feel badly for my youngest son, I need to tell you that he is no angel. Just today, while his older brother was begging him to play outside, he agreed to play, if brother would jump out of a window. Thank god it was on the ground floor. I was outside mowing the grass at the time. To top things off, he reneged on his promise to play. Where are those parenting books when you need them, I need to throw one!
My sons LOVE each other. They love to fight, they love to tease, and they love to play together. Their bond is so solid that when they inevitably get into trouble and I go to discipline one of them, I become the bad guy. They turn on me like last week’s milk. Quite often their friends wonder why they don’t play outside more. It’s quite simple really. When you live with your best friend you don’t seek out other playmates. This is the case with all three of my children, even though my eldest is twenty! On a normal day, all three of them will run around with toy swords in their house and slay dragons, orcs and evil wizards. Our house looks like a battlefield.
They make me laugh and cry at the same time. They make me miss my own brothers. They make me want to take a vacation without them. They make me want to thank my parents for not leaving me and my own siblings on the side of the road while we played another game of “Gotcha last!” during a long car ride.
They are all very different and this is why there is so much conflict. Meet my children “Night” and “Day.”
Something needed to be done if I was going to survive this summer. Scratch that…something needed to be done if THEY were going to survive this summer! I put on my old management hat and tried to look at the problem from a different angle. Many of their fights, especially the petty ones, stem from communication problems between two of the brothers.
One child is a head person. One child is a heart person. It was time for them to understand each other better. When my “head” son addresses his brother, it is usually to tell him how to do something the right way, to correct him, or to tell him some nebulous fact the other brother doesn’t care about. He does the same to me and it pisses me off. I read into his words as criticism or as being condescending, when in fact, he is simply sharing his brilliance. My “heart” son hits where it hurts. His preferred method of torture is to tell his brother he is wrong over and over and over again. He intuitively understands that this will drive his brother bonkers. It gets so bad that he smugly repeats this taunt until his brother gets red in the face from trying to back up his argumentation with facts and examples.
Here is a typical interaction. “Let’s go out on the dirt mound and play king of the hill because that is the highest point in our yard!” says the older “head” brother. The “heart” brother’s reply is usually something like this; “That’s not the highest point in our yard.” They truly have inherited their strongest personality traits from my husband and me.
Let the fighting begin! Instead of playing, they start to argue the height dimensions of this hill and others, and the discussion ends by one pushing the other off of the first hill and is finalized by an intense physical brawl. So I sit them down to talk. I explain how they both approach people and each other. I encourage them to communicate differently in order to get along better. We all laugh and we all recognize our differences.
It it didn’t solve a damn thing. Maybe one day they will look back and understand. Today they are children. I can only hope that after all of these years of love, fights, tears and laughter, they will one day realize how precious is their bond. It is like no other. The love for family and shared experiences are truly the ties that bind us.