My kids fight a bit. And by “a bit” I mean a lot. And by “a lot” I mean all of the damn time. Every room in our house is a battlefield. They fight so much I feel I am living in a demented version of one of Winston Churchill’s famous speeches.
“We shall fight in the house, we shall fight in the car and backyard, we shall fight with growing anger and growing strength in the grocery stores and restaurants, we shall defend our toys, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beds, we shall fight on the couches, we shall fight in the kitchen and at the dinner table, we shall fight in the parks; we shall never surrender…”
That Was Too Much to Ask
So fed up I was with this endless fighting that on a recent Saturday afternoon, amid a battle over I don’t care what, I challenged them to go for one hour without fighting. I asked they just give me one hour. If they could pull it off, I would make a stop at some place for a treat later because I had reached the point where I was willing to let them ingest monstrously unhealthy foodstuffs in exchange for a few minutes’ peace.
As I walked back into the kitchen to finish my cleaning I checked the time: 2:00 pm.
A few dishes later I hear one of the kids suddenly burst out with “NO! STOP!“, followed quickly by rustling and grunting and whining. As usual I come in waving my arms like a referee calling the play dead.
“What is going on?!” I shouted. My strategy was to shout at them to get them to stop shouting so I could shout at them about how I don’t allow shouting in our house.
In these moments anything I say has already been repeated so often I feel like a Dad doll that comes with a set of prerecorded parental platitudes when you pull the string. The fighting starts and I stomp onto the scene to spew out one of following statements:
“I have had it with the fighting!”
“Just once I would like a day where the two of you get along!”
“HURRRRGHA BLERRGHA BLURRGAL BLAARGH!”
After dispensing a feckless strategy for resolving whatever issue they had I walked back into the kitchen, checking the time on the way: 2:03 PM.
A Cause Worth Fighting For
Before I make it seem like my kids are just being petty, I should be fair and let you know what they are fighting about. Here is a short list of some important issues that have led to broken toys and hurt feelings:
- One has something that belongs to the other and won’t give it back
- Both of them want the same Lego piece out of a box of 300 pieces
- They have to sit next to each other
- They have to stand next to each other
- One of them is making a noise that bothers the other
- His feet are in the way
- She has more chips
- Get off of me
- That’s mine
- No, it’s not
- I’m the Red Power Ranger
- No, I’M THE RED POWER RANGER!
The dust-up I mentioned earlier was caused by a common situation. The kids needed to pick a program they wanted to watch on Netflix. Whatever they begrudgingly agree upon, there is a high probability the show will have a plot where two friends have a disagreement that gets out of hand. Eventually the two characters discover that if they just talked about it nicely and come up with a solution together they could have avoided a lot of problems.
My kids could watch those shows for an entire day and they would never catch on.
Fast Fighting Friends
I hear that siblings who fight a lot as kids grow to be fast friends as adults. If that is true, these two should patch things up just in time for me to check out of this life. This also means if I am to leave our world gracefully I need to live long enough to usher them well into adulthood. If I don’t, no one will hear the eulogy at my funeral amid the clatter of my kids tumbling over a row of folded chairs while they fight over the same seat.
This is a joke, of course. If my kids were really in charge of my funeral the event wouldn’t happen at all. They would be too busy fighting over every detail leading up to it that I could be reincarnated, grow old enough to find them, slap the box of my ashes out of their bickering hands, and give myself a proper burial.
Until my kids learn not to kill each other over LEGO pieces, I would say to my kids, as I say to the good people who read this essay, I have nothing to offer but time outs, band-aids, and exasperation.