War and Peace

I love my kids.  I really do.  But they have been driving me nuts.  My love for them remains intact.  My sanity, not so much.

They have hit the fighting stage.  This is new to me.  I don’t have siblings.  I didn’t struggle with constant sharing.  I didn’t fight for attention.  I didn’t have anyone destroying my creations or grabbing my things.  My space was just that… mine.

I call this the fighting stage. But what do I know?  I have no clue what it’s like sharing life with a sibling.  Is this just a stage, or is it actually simply the fighting state?  As in, the state of ongoing annoyance and frustration.  As in, this is just how it is between siblings.  Perhaps fighting ceases primarily because you stop sharing rooms, participate in different activities and eventually develop a life of your own.  Is this a stage or a state?

Although I know that Momo and Tigerlily are still very young, I am discouraged and worn down by all the screaming matches and angry outbursts.  I wonder if we worsened the situation by having them share a room.  We hoped to encourage friendship.  Instead, I think we’ve created a little war in our home.

But tonight, I am encouraged.

Tigerlily has been putting on quite the bedtime show these past couple nights.  She screams. She goes boneless.  Her eyes get all puffy.  She doesn’t want us to leave.  She doesn’t want to succumb to sleep.  All this despite the same old bedtime routine.

Tonight was an especially impressive performance.  She was, to put it mildly, angry and indignant.  There was no reasoning to be had.  Smartypants and I were at a loss.

At one point, Tigerlily had come to our room and sat on our bedroom floor, unwilling to budge, wailing her heart out.  What to do?  Well, we retreated to their bedroom and asked Momo for help.  That’s what competent parents do when they’re confused, right?  Ask their toddler for help?

Momo rose to the occasion, much to our surprise.  He got up out of his bed, looked at us, and declared, “I go help get her.”  With that, he marched down the hall.  We hear him ask, “What wrong, mei-mei?”  We hear the crying cease.  Then quick and light footsteps.  And then their shadowed outline appeared against the doorway, Momo leading the way while holding Tigerlily’s hand.  “Come sleep, mei-mei. Don’t cry. Here your bubba, mei-mei, help you sleep.”

Tonight, they shared Momo’s bed.  Each clinging to their bubbas.  Momo watched his little sister for a while and patted her shoulder softly.  He reached out and stroked her head with a gentleness I rarely ever see.  She turned her face and they faced each other.  For a moment, the war ceased.  They were brother and sister, and  friends, as it should be.  As it is meant to be. And together, they found a special comfort that we as parents could never replace.

Maybe sharing a bed tonight will create new bedtime battles, but for now, I’m okay with it. There will come a time when they no longer share a room.  There will come a time when they grow up and have a life of their own.  For now, they are together.

And at the least, the ringing in our ears have finally stopped.

I’m curious… What was it like for you to have brothers or sisters?

How do you encourage your children to care for each other?


9 thoughts on “War and Peace

  1. I have 3 older brothers, enough older (4-8 yrs older) we didn’t fight much, unless they beheaded my Barbie dolls again. I was the only girl, had my own room, so they didn’t want any of my things. I looked up to my brothers and learned both what to do and what NOT to do. But my own kids, ages 7, 5, 3, woah nelly, do they fight. But not always. Sometimes they are so cooperative building lego towns together, or the 7 yr old pushing the 3 yr old on the swing, so sweet. It’s all about defining space and respect, though they just call it “mine”. It’s an amazing journey to watch them grow up together. I think my daughter will be a wonderful mom, already a leader and watches out for the boys.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience! 3 kids — kudos to you! You bring up such a good point about defining space and respect. I’m trying to figure out that balance between providing each child “space” but still challenging them to work out the tensions of sharing. “Give each other space” is becoming the mantra these days. 🙂
      But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what children grow up expecting as the norm and what they feel entitled to. Although it may create new challenges, in some ways I want my kids to just “deal” and face the struggles of living together closely. That was one reason we wanted them to share a room at least while they were younger. Nevertheless, I’m also realizing I need to help them find their own “retreat” when each is getting overwhelmed by the other. Just as much as they need to learn to share, they also need to learn to protect some time to themselves (not much different from adults). This is all so much more complicated than a family with just one child! 🙂

  2. Ah, Yolanda, I’m sorry to say, this is not just a phase that will quickly pass, but one that could possibly go on for many years. I always dreamed my boys would be best of friends. I guess that can’t be dictated. But I have seen my younger two grow much closer in these early adult years, although still very different in tastes & personality.

    How to help? When the gospel begins to take hold in their little hearts, you can at least remind them of that. But I think for all of us, our ugliest side comes out most around those we are closest to. Hopefully other people posting here will have better insight into childhood bickering. I’m not sure I ever conquered that with my own kids.

    For myself, once I hit high school & my sisters were in college, we began to grow much closer. So at some point, it’s just a maturity thing.

    • Joan, that is encouraging. I do know that it’s actually a “healthy” sign when kids act up more at home than in any other setting, and when there is fighting between sibs. It does definitely show a degree of comfort and intimacy. I am very much hoping that, as you said, the gospel begins to take hold in their little hearts. That they would feel so loved by God that it would change how they see and approach everything. Thanks for your humble and honest encouragement!

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  4. I’m the oldest of three. That meant I insisted on having things my way and my younger brothers had to deal with it. Not really what I wanted in raising my own children.

    Sometimes I wonder if it’s partly their personality. Some people just get along better than others, regardless of whether or not they’re related. My older three get along great; they’ve rarely ever fought. My younger two are a different story! There’s a good book titled Siblings Without Rivalry that you might enjoy reading (in all your spare time 😉 )

    • Thanks for the book recommendation! I am going to look into that book. This is so new to me since I’m an only child. There is definitely a lot of angst between my two and I’m realizing that I need to help give them some space now and then. They’re just so close in age right now that they aggravate each other too much. That is so encouraging to hear that there is simply a component of personality that’s out of our hands. Sometime I wonder if I push them too much to share, or if it’s just too early to share a room. But then I think about how plenty of kids out there make do with having to share simply because they have less. Ultimately, I think you’re right that the personalities at play do make a big difference and there’s only so much I can do to help guide them through this stage. The rest they’ll have to figure out with time and (hopefully) maturity.

      • Someone pointed out to me that sometimes people will tell kids to share a cookie or their Halloween candy: meaning give away part to someone else and you never see it again because now it’s theirs. Then we tell them to share their toys and it’s no wonder kids aren’t enthusiastic about it. I’m not sure what you mean about sharing a bedroom. Sleeping only? Play space?

        My oldest two are 16 months apart and they shared a bedroom until around age 4ish – but that just meant they both slept in the same room. All the toys were in our family room. Bedrooms were only for sleeping. imho, toddlers should be supervised when they play – with an adult keeping an eye on things they learn how they should get along, so when they’re older and not supervised, they’re already in the habit of getting along. Just my opinion. It worked in our house because we had space to have everyone all together in one playroom. I could sit and play with them, or work/read while they played and still know exactly what was going on. Sorry so long-winded. Just sharing what worked for us. Every family is different.

  5. Pingback: Teaching Kindness: Every Heart is a Treasure « One Family Table

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