Sunday, August 14, 2016

I'm Worried This Was the Worst Thing I Could Have Done to My Children

T.S. Eliot was dead wrong when he wrote in The Wasteland that "April is the cruelest month." It's not. That dubious distinction belongs to August in Juneau. 

August here is the sad Sunday of summer. More specifically, early to mid-August. It's the time of year when the cobbled-together patchwork of camps and trips that have sustained my kids through the summer is over, school hasn't begun, and the fall comes bearing down with the force and velocity of endless rain, wind, and the looming darkness of ever-shortening days.

It's also the time of year when I wonder whether having more than one child was the worst thing I possibly could have done to the other one. 

I try to keep them busy, engaged, (and most importantly separated) during this annual, inevitable purgatory, but no plan or activity I arrange keeps Paige and Isaac from visciously fighting with each other like two cats trapped in a sack.

Everything they do enrages the other: Paige calls Isaac stupid and copies everything he says until he pounds her on the head. Isaac "small pinches" Paige on the soft flesh of her shoulder or flank until she screams and cries as if she's being murdered. Isaac bounces a giant, blue yoga ball loudly during Paige's allotted screen time. Paige razes a Lego tower Isaac made last week, and Isaac throws himself on the floor, weeping mournfully as though Paige just killed the new puppy I won't let either of them have. Isaac steals Paige's carefully arranged "Shopkins" and scatters them to the four winds as she shrieks in rage.

I'm an only child with no frame of reference for this. In my fantasy of siblinghood, all siblings are best friends and my life would have been so much better if I'd had one. Reality doesn't bear this out of course. Some of the adults I know hate their siblings and don't speak to them. Others are indeed best friends. But most are somewhere in the middle: amicably going about their business with warm familial love and somewhat distant, separate adult lives.

The way I look at it, my main job is to keep my kids from killing or seriously maiming one another while living under my roof. 

The rest is out of my hands, so back to adult coloring.

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