The half hour before school lets out is designated “me” time. I get my cup of coffee, lose myself in a book, put my feet up, take deep breaths. I gather all the mommy ammo I can get.
I know what’s coming.
(Cue: X-Files like musical score)
They’re out there.
Aaaand… They burst through the door, a jumble of water bottles and grubby hands, backpacks and smelly socks. Suddenly, the energy in the house spikes like the mercury on a summer afternoon. There’s voices that declare “I’m staaarving. I need food,” and “Yucckkk! Milk!”
There’s homework that meets with, “Can I do it later?” And there’s playtime which ends with, “Five more minutes, pleeeeaasee?”
There’s piano practice and “Can we have a show? Or just a video game?” and “You’re so mean, you never let us do anything.” Then, of course, there’s bath time bickering, dinner demands and bedtime bartering.
And all this is interspersed with the filing of grievances against their sibling/ frenemy/ partner in crime.
If you’re a parent of more than one kid you know what I’m talking about (or you gave birth to angels, lucky you)
Sibling spats. It’s the constant cycle of he said-she said, he did-she did. As a mom, you’ve settled disputes as frosty as the Cold War. You’ve traded deals that make Chinese diplomats look like ninnies. You now have what it takes to silence entire civilizations with a single look that says, “Stop this minute – or else.”
Here’s some of what we hear all day long.
- She keeps copying me all the time. Tell her to stop.
- We watched his show the last time. It’s my show today.
- He said I’m dumb. No, I didn’t. Yes, you did. *Smack.
- He said Faa-art. (*Delivered in a I’m-getting-you-into-trouble voice)
- Why don’t you ever ask her to do anything?
- He burped in my face.
- She said I’m weird.
Their mom’s wise, reasonable responses are usually as follows:
- Do you want me to ban ALL screens forever????
- Who needs a time-out? WHO??
- Don’t make me count to 3. Just. Don’t.
- Can you guys hear anything I say?? Hello?? HELL-O???
- Settle it by yourselves. I can’t hear you.
- Tell her you’re sorry. Like you mean it.
- Keep your hands to yourself!
- Don’t make me come upstairs.
- Should I tell dada about this when he comes home?
- Do I somehow look like a complaint desk to you??
- Do you want me to stop the car and make you walk home or will you two Cut. It. Out???
And so it continues.
Then there are those moments like tonight. My little missy tells me how her brother stood up for her when one of the boys in her class was mean. “He said, ‘Stop bullying my sister.’” (She makes her voice sound all dude-like when she quotes her big brother.)
She looks mighty thrilled. He brother, all of 17 months older than her, came to her defense.
He may bug her and burp in her face. But he has her back.
And just like that the day’s bickering gets wiped clean.
They’re asleep. They look nothing like the kids in the movies who are neatly arranged under the quilt in a perfectly picked up room. My two have kicked their blankets off, and hang half off the bed like they’d practiced gymnastics before nodding off to sleep.
I leave the door to their bedroom ajar so I can hear them if they talk in their sleep or cough or snore little snores or suddenly call out for us.
After an evening of hearing them bicker, I still need to listen in. It’s weird how this mommyhood thing works. Really weird.