October 18, 2011

Fighting the Good Fight

My brother and I a loooong time ago.

I don't know about you, but some of my fondest childhood memories involve some sort of torment and my older brother.  (Older brothers and torture do go hand-in-hand, don't they?)  Whether he was tormenting me or getting me 'back' for bothering him...those were some good times.  :-)

I feel like I learned a lot of life skills and what buttons to push (and not to push) on people from fighting with my brother.  I learned how to be completely mad at someone and still sit across from the at the dinner table each night without getting in trouble for being rude.  (Okay, maybe just MOST of the time!)  I learned how and when to get my revenge.  I learned how to be a good victim.  (Then, I learned that would only work so many times before I would shoot myself in the foot and get in more trouble than he would have gotten into before I tried to frame him!)

My brother and I weren't always very angry when we fought.  We were mostly just trying to irritate each other.  Or we were just bored and there was nothing good on television.  Since he's four years older than I am, our fights were rarely (if ever) physical.  The most I think we ever physically fought were the 'foot fights' we would have on our parents' couch.  Little did we know, the couch was the only real loser in that game.  Apparently, lying at each end of the couch and pushing toward each other's feet could have broken the frame of our couch. 

 That sort of actual understanding doesn't kick in until one has paid for a couch themselves.  I'm pretty sure that I would come unglued if I found my kids to be doing that to my couch!

This one time, my brother and my cousin were ignoring me or leaving me out of whatever they were doing.  I decided to have a 'tea party' instead.  I made some 'tea' alright.  I used water, Comet, some of my mom's favorite perfume, and whatever else I managed to find under the bathroom sink.  I mixed it up in my little teapot, poured it into the teacups, and invited my brother and cousin to my tea party. 

Don't worry, no brothers or cousins were harmed in the making of the story.  They pretended to take a sip and started rolling on the ground and crying and moaning that they had been poisoned.

*evil grin*

Hey, at least they were playing with me!

I remember these things when I see (and hear) my own kids argue.  There are days when I just can't take it and have to ask them to stop.  (Or at least take it somewhere else!)  But, they have to find their places in each other's lives and routines.  They are learning patience from one another far better than I could actually teach it to them.  They are learning to sit across from one another at the dinner table and be civil when they really want to be as far away from their sister as possible.  (Of course, if they are anything like me that just means they are planning to get their revenge another time...when Mom isn't watching.)  I deal with bad behavior as I see it, but I have come to terms with the fact that not every facet of their relationships with each other will actually involve me.  They have to earn each other's respect.  I feel if I force them to respect each other all the time they could start to resent one another for it.  Now, this doesn't mean that I don't pull one aside and speak with them when they are being irrational.  If 8YO is being especially impatient or grumpy with her sisters, I will pull her aside and try to explain her sisters' point of view.  (Meaning:  Your sisters are not just put on this earth to annoy you.  GET OVER IT!) 

I try not to intervene when it comes to the small stuff.  Life is too short to spend it fighting over hair brushes and what to watch on television.  I sort of make it a rule that, if they bring it to me, then I will solve it and BOTH of them will lose. That usually motivates them to work it out themselves, which in turn makes my life so much more pleasant.  

What can I say?  My black and white striped shirt is in the dirty clothes and I haven't seen my whistle in days.  Since I can't be their referee, then they are better off just working it out themselves.

I've just met too many adults in this world that never learned how to fight their own fights or self-soothe and they are not the easiest people to be around.  Most life skills are 'learn by doing' and seeing an adult try to work through these basic feelings and experiences is just ridiculous.  I want my girls to be better prepared for all the curve balls that life will throw their way. 

And I'm also really lazy.


Did you have a sibling to tease and torment growing up?  What are some of your best memories of arguments' past?