I have a secret weapon when I want the boys to do something. It’s fast, easy, and works. Only it’s a little too easy, and it works too well.
All I have to say is “Let’s see who will do (blank) first!”
And then the boys jump into action to see who can do it first. Tornado E has the unfair advantage of age, experience, and height. But Tornado S is more determined and willful. They even each other out.
While competition can bring out the best in someone, it can also bring out the worst in people. Competition usually kills friendship. Because of competition, some guys have to always win, always compete, and always be the jerk about it. Competition between siblings can breed fierce rivalries. The type we’re trying to avoid. The type that runs deep in different parts of the my family clan.
Like my mother’s siblings. They hardly speak to each other unless they are forced to be in their parents’ house, but each is busy one upping the other for the glory of their parents’ love. Like my dad’s siblings. There’s actually a clique within the sex siblings. A Clique! How messed up is that? Like my older cousins who can’t be in the same room for more than an hour before some stupid pissing contest starts which leads to an argument which leads to a physical fight.
It’s hard being one of the few sane ones in the clan.
But somehow, even though we are competitive (set up a game of Hotels among us and we’ll mad dog each other and play to rule the world) and my parents unintentionally set us up to compete, my brothers and I don’t feel the need to compete with each other anymore. Each enjoys his/her accomplishments for the sake of being accomplishments, not something to lord over the other two. When my mom does say “But Fae did this” or “Face did that” or “The Friendly Giant does this,” we let the words roll over us like a wave or point out that “I am handling it my way.”
Now I have to find a my own way to get the boys to do as I ask/demand/command. Because I see the hunger of competition in their eyes. I see Tornado E holding his “wins” over Tornado S. I see Tornado S crumbling at the first sign that Tornado E will “beat” him. I see that I’m not raising the men I want them to be.
So far I’ve learned if it’s easy, it ain’t parenting. Back to the drawing board.
Hmmm . . . what about bribing . . . ?