Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fighting Words

I had a beautiful post planned for this afternoon, all about how wonderful our weekend had been and how nice our upcoming week will be, but my kids killed it.  I now have no inclination to write happy things and will instead regale you with a Tale of Two Siblings.

They were the best of friends.  They were the worst of enemies.

That's as far as I can paraphrase from the book without overdoing the metaphor, so I'll let Dickens roll over in his grave a few times and move on.

I sent the kids outside this afternoon.  It's 74 degrees outside, clear and sunny with low humidity for the first time in weeks.  It seemed like a foolproof plan - they would go outside and enjoy the weather, I would go upstairs and exercise, and all would be right with the world.

I really should know better.

The first inkling that sending them outside was an ill-conceived idea came right after I told them to go out.  M2, who is all sorts of eye-rolling sassy horridness lately, said, "But, Mom, I can't go outside in **these clothes!**  Are you trying to make me ruin them?"

(Wherever you see asterisks, insert snark.)

"You're going outside.  It's gorgeous out there, and I've seen other kids playing on skateboards and stuff."

M2 huffed off, changed her shirt, and marched outside without speaking to me.  M1 followed suit silently after her.   Less than two minutes later, as I was pouring myself a cup of water to go upstairs and exercise, I heard the garage door opening.  Suspicious, I opened the garage door just in time to see M1 reaching into it for something.

"Whatcha gettin'?"


"I was gonna ask," he said, holding his hand behind his back, then in front of his stomach as he whipped around and slowly walked to the garage door away from me.

"No, you weren't," I returned, "and what do you have?"

He brought a now empty hand out from beside the garage door.  "Nuthin'."

"Mmmm-hm."  I walked out to where he was to find leftover pepperoni pizza pasta salad scattered all over the concrete next to his feet.  Ordinarily, I probably would have laughed, but the kid had JUST FINISHED eating a four-course Italian meal that he fixed himself.  There was no way he was hungry; he was simply stealing food for the sake of stealing food.  Find food, must steal.  Sort of like him + electronics on other days.  I made him pick up the food and dispose of it away from the house so we didn't attract more wildlife than usual before I went back into the house, closed the garage door and locked it.

Finally I made it upstairs, opened the windows, and started to exercise.  Five minutes later, the children were back, both screaming at the tops of their lungs, "HE CHASED ME WITH A SPIDER!!!"  "SHE CALLED ME #*%&ity-#*%& #*%&!!!"  "HE PULLED MY BIKE DOWN THE HILL!!!"  "SHE'S LYING!!!"


Sooooo it started.  At first, of course, all I got were half-truths and rebuttals - "I never chased her with a spider!  It was on the pavement, and I said, 'Hi, Spider,' but I never chased her!"  "I don't remember calling him anything!"

M1 caved first.  I never thought I'd see the day when he would take responsibility for his actions, but he's finally getting there, and I get the truth out of him more often than not these days, and it's a fairly quick process, too.  He owned up to and apologized for pulling his sister's bike up and down the hill outside the house and explained the spider situation fully (he said hi to it and moved behind it so that it moved toward his sister, but he didn't chase her with it).  M2, on the other hand, kept trying to interrupt.  When I asked her to be quiet, I received, "I DON'T **WANT** TO BE QUIET, SO THERE!!!"  When it was finally her turn to talk, she stonewalled me for about 15 minutes before telling me she didn't remember anything, so she didn't do it.  I asked her, "So if I killed someone and didn't remember doing it, I'm innocent?"  "No, there's a chance you could have done it."  "So there's a chance you might have called your brother names?"  "No, because I don't remember doing it."

The circular lack of logic is strong in that one.

It took 15 minutes of varying tactics before I finally got through to her that I believed her brother and not remembering something doesn't mean it didn't happen.  When she finally broke down and admitted that she did, in fact, call her brother horrid names, it was accompanied by, "BUT HE WAS...."  Um, no.  You can stop right there, Lil' Girl.  I don't care one iota what he did.  I know what he did already because he told me!  Then I irritated them both by sending them not to their own rooms, but to each other's room while I finished exercising.  I needed a few minutes of peace.

I talked to each child separately after I got done.  Both felt bad about what they'd done, but both thought there was no good way to make it up to the other.  They are fairly right about that, but nevertheless I gave them each a piece of paper and asked them to write a letter to their sibling detailing some of the good points about the other... things they'd miss if their sibling was gone.

It frustrates the heck out of me when they fight, but I'm glad that they can also find good things to write about one another.  One day they'll be good adult friends... right?

What do you do when your kids fight?

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