Monday, June 19, 2017

This I Spy Junk Board is a Hard-Won Trophy of Short-Lived Sibling Harmony

If I'm honest (and I usually am), a full 70% of my kids' interactions with each other are hostile. Scratch that. It's more like 80%.

This statistic defies my only-childhood fantasy of sibling bliss. Despite being forewarned by veteran parents, I had naively assumed that my kids would be best friends at all times. Now I realize they're just two people who got stuck with the same parents and chromosomes. Under more primal circumstances, they would surely try to kill each other in the wild in a Darwinian quest for resources.

The deflated expression on Isaac's face in this picture provides a glimpse into the tempestuous evening that led to the creation of this "I Spy" junk board.

I'd come home from work in a mood. A bad one. My eczema was flaring up again after I'd let myself believe that an expensive magical medicine had cured it forever. The state legislature was marching grimly toward the fiscal plank of a devastating shutdown that would put a serious cog in everyone's financial works. And natch, because it was a day ending in "Y," Vladimir Cheetos was barging through the China shop of American democracy like a raging orange bull.

In short: My data limit for the intolerable had just been exceeded, which is my kids' cue to go into roll-over minutes.

I tried to go to my "happy place" of adult coloring on the couch as I listened to Paige and Isaac devolve into pointless conflict over nothing.

"MOOOOOOOOOM!!!! ISAAC TOOK MY DOLLS!"

"WELL SHE SMALL-PINCHED ME AND CRUSHED MY NUTS!" ("Small pinching" is exactly what it sounds like, and so is "nut crushing").


I just sat there ignoring them both, slowly rolling a magenta glitter gel pen around and around inside the petal of a pen-and-ink flower, pretending I was somewhere--anywhere--else. 

Somewhere I didn't have to hear my kids arguing with each other, for the sound of my kids arguing is even more unbearable to me than Nickelback and/or the sound of Donald Trump saying words, which is really saying something. 

Finally, I played the "no screen time or sugar for a month if you don't quit fighting" empty threat card. Fortunately, my kids still fear my making good on this threat, notwithstanding all historical precedent to the contrary. They fell into line. 

Under Paige's able (if slightly despotic) leadership, my kids cooperated to both get rid of junk AND use their imaginations!

Of course, this "I Spy Board," as Paige called it, was itself destined to become the object of a future fight. But for now, it was a hard-won trophy of short-lived sibling harmony, and it would be documented for posterity.

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