It’s Only the First Day.

Go ahead and emphasize a different word in that sentence. And it totally describes moments of today.

The first day of summer. Ish. I guess Friday was, but I kept the boys busy, helping me clean up the classroom, watching The Simpsons, and painting.

Today we had a lot more down time. Because kids can entertain themselves.

Or fight with their sibling.

So when one of my boys gets bored, he picks on a sibling. Kicking, punching, name-calling, laying on him, leaning on him, touching him, making annoying noises, taking his favorite toy, making him mess up on whatever he’s doing. You know, sibling stuff.

It’s already driving me crazy.

It’s only been a day.

So I’ll go back to what works. Time outs for name calling. Punching the punching bag when it’s a physical assault. Picking up toys and doing chores for boredom. Putting in a jewel in our kindness jar when I catch them doing a kind deed.

I hope I can get this taken care of before I take them on vacation in a couple of weeks. The boys and I trapped in a hotel room with nowhere to go sounds like a nightmare.

 

Sharing

It’s hard to teach sharing and being nice to people.  I sometimes wonder if as humans, we are naturally selfish, egotistical beings and that it is against our very natures to think beyond ourselves.  I struggle to teach the boys to get along, to share their toys with each other, or, at the very least, stop f-ing antagonizing each other.  Jesus.  Is it so hard to just not make your brother scream in aggravation because you said something or took away the toy or hit him?  Leave him alone!

Channeling.

So imagine my surprise when ever was upset that Tornado S had an eyeball balloon and he didn’t.  While Tornado E was at school, we were at the grocery store, where they were giving away their Halloween balloons.  When a store clerk asked Tornado S if he wanted one, he asked for the eye-ball balloon with a please.  All day, Tornado S was talking to his Eye-Ball Friend.  Naturally, Tornado E had to destroy this special bond.

After the third time of Tornado E taking the balloon and the second time of him putting the ribbon in his mouth to irritate Tornado S, I sent Tornado E to time out.  After the five minutes, we had a nice little discussion over when something belongs to someone else, we leave it alone.  We play with other people’s things when we ask and they say yes.

Tornado E: But I like the eye-ball balloon!

Me: I know.  But it’s Tornado S’s.

Tornado E: But Mommmmmmyyyyyyy!

Me: It’s still Tornado S’s.  Play with the other balloon.

Tornado S: Here, brother!  You want to play with it?!  You can!

And then I realize my boy is the sweetest, kindest, most adorable boy on the planet.  And maybe I had a hand in it.

Take my children, please.

My sons are alive today at this moment because I’m a saint.  Ok, I might be exaggerating a little but not by much.

Tornado E is on the throttle taking a supervillan’s pleasure in antagonizing the hell out of Tornado S.  Tornado S retaliates by either hitting or screaming or both.  This has been going on for several days, perhaps even weeks.  Then today the screaming started before 7am.  Then while I was feeding Tornado A his mid-morning meal, the boys that would be an absolutely awesome idea to wash their hair with hand soap.  And to make matters even more fun, Tornado S poured a water bottle filled with water onto the kitchen floor.

I wanted to scream.  I wanted to beat.  I wanted to send everyone to time out for hours.

Instead, I placed a sleeping Tornado A in his bassinet.  I told Tornado E to figure out how he was going to get soap out of his hair.  I gave Tornado S a rag to dry up the water.

But I fear I’m losing control.  I have to repeat myself several times to get them to do what I ask.  Tornado E is now name calling.  Tornado S cries and screeches when things don’t go his way.  It’s like pulling teeth to get them to pick up their toys or get ready for bed.

I’m not sure if this is a phase.  But I’ve been telling everyone it is.  I don’t know if they’re just testing the lines.  I don’t know if this has something to do with having a new baby in the house.  I don’t know if this has to do with their allergies acting up.

I do think if I started cracking down, they would be in time out all the time.  Which might have to be done.  And I wonder if I spent more time with them having fun that they wouldn’t act out so much.  But I spend Tornado A’s nap time trying to get them to clean and yelling at them as they pick on each other.  I just hate the yelling all the time.

The Answer is

My mom is trying to teach Tornado E not to whine or throw a fit when he gets a “no” in response to his request.  (I, for the record, just send him in his room until he’s dealt with his issues.)  She tells him, “Tornado E, sometimes the answer is no.”

Yesterday I was dressing Tornado S, and he wanted to play with a tiny toy ninja that belonged to Tornado E.

Me: Tornado S, that’s Tornado E’s.  You’ll have to ask him.

Tornado S: Pease, Brother.  Pease may have ninja?

Tornado E: No.

Tornado S started to wail.

Tornado E: Tornado S, sometimes the answer is no.

The Green One

When I was a child, my brothers and I fought over the Green Glass.  It was a plastic tumbler from Tupperware, which came with a set of four, including red, blue, and yellow.  But we could care less about the other glasses.  We fought, argued, yelled, begged, whined, pushed, shoved to get the Green Glass.  My parents were at their wits’ end.  What was so special about the Green Glass?  We maintained that milk just taste better in it.  I’m sure it was more to do that our siblings wanted it, so it became more desirable.  That Green Glass.

Last Christmas, I felt it was time to arm the family with light sabers.  I bought two blues, a green, and a purple.  I kept it a secret from even The Husband, so that he too could fill the thrill of getting a light saber to play with the boys.  The purple one was mine, of course.

Last week, the boys fell into a Star Wars kick.  They’re watching The Husband’s copy of the Star Wars cartoon series from a few years back.  They unsuccessfully try to convince us to play the Star Wars video games for them.  They’re fighting with light sabers.  They’re taking light sabers to bed.  They’re fighting over one light saber whenever they get a chance.

The Green One.

Tornado S adores the Green Light Saber, carries it around, takes it to bed, fights with it.  Food and Tornado E are the only things that will pry it out of his hands.  Tornado E must have the Green Light Saber at all costs, conning, whittling, begging, forcing it out of his brother’s hands.  When that doesn’t work, Tornado E cries, begs, whines for it from us.    We have three other light sabers here, people!

It does seem fair and just over the long view.  But I won’t believe it’s fair and just until my brothers have children.  They just better have more than one.

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The Pirate Ship

So of course, we had to get Tornado S his own pirate ship.  Since that was all his little heart desired.  The Husband and I stayed up until midnight putting things together for the surprise.  Yet another Christmas Eve of us bickering our frustration at each other because including directions with the toys is now so not cool.

The next morning, Tornado E woke first and looked at his toys before coming and getting us.  We smiled as he exclaimed over each toy.  After 45 minutes and no Tornado S, I went in to check on him.  He was just lying in bed, thinking, contemplating, relaxing.  When he saw me he climbed out of his bed, and I ran into the family room for the perfect spot to catch a picture of the look on Tornado S’s face when he saw his pirate ship.

Tornado S came out into the family, taking in the magical scene.  I lifted the camera up, focusing it.  His eyes landed on the pirate ship.  Those dark brown eyes lit up.  A smile burst on his face.  He took a running step forward.  I started to press down on the button.  Then Tornado E jumped up and bumped his brother out of the way.

Yup, Tornado E cock-blocked his little brother from Tornado S’s own toy.  Nice.

Tornado S was determined.  They raced to the pirate ship, getting there at the same time.  Tornado S let out a yell as Tornado E grabbed the pirates and the ship.

I have spent the last several days trying to make sure everyone is sharing and not hitting, punching, kicking, scratching, biting, pushing, bludgeoning each other over a toy pirate ship.

Christmas is magical.

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My Son, The Vampire

Tornado S has learned to bite.  Which I can’t blame him, really.  Tornado E’s favorite game is “How can I annoy my baby brother the greatest.”  So in a lot of ways, Tornado E had it coming.

But rather than let Tornado S get carried away in a Chicago musical number, I some how have to discipline this grievous assault.  The kid leaves bite marks.  It’s only a matter of time before he breaks the skin.

The first time Tornado S did it, my dad was babysitting, and he was at his wit’s end on what to do.  If it had been his kid, it would have been a couple of spankings or a bite back, which worked so well on my middle brother when he went through this phase on me.  (Unlike Tornado E, I was a perfect child.)  But my dad knew how I feel about physical punishment, so he placed Tornado S into time out and cuddled Tornado E.

It happened on my watch last night.  Even though I threw Tornado S into time out for three and a half minutes, I don’t think it really had an effect, since Tornado S started laughing and talking to himself during the middle of it.  Nothing like a punishment that works.

And I wasn’t stupid enough to think this just happened out of the blue because Tornado S was so hungry from missing dinner, he mistook his brother for a hamburger.  As I comforted Tornado E, I interrogated him on what happened right before the teething incident. Tornado E was using Tornado S as a punching bag.  Nice.  Now I have to be in the same room with them at all times like a warden.  Where’s my shot gun?

So what’s a poor, enlightened mother suppose to do?

I’ve seen the whole biting the kid thing work, but I feel it’s a bit barbaric and contradictory.  Nothing like hitting to let some one know hitting is wrong.  I’m not sure that the time out thing is working, since it seems the place for Tornado S to work on his inner comedic monologue.

So any advice out there?

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Reasons to stare at the wall than play Candy Land

My dad hated playing Candy Land.  I never understood why.  Until now.

 

1) Everyone wants the same color gingerbread man.  Every time.  It doesn’t matter if Sean’s favorite color is blue and Evan’s is read.  If the other had it first, then the second needs it NOW.

2) Sean must have more than one.  Evan finds this unfair.  I don’t care as long as it keeps the peace.

3) Evan must have every gingerbread man piece lined up just so, even if Sean is not going to play with the game.

4) Evan must make up an elaborate story before the first card is drawn.  Woe to those who try to play without listening to the long winded story.

5) Sean, who was once satisfied to just play with his pieces by himself and occasionally tornado through the game board, which gave me an opportunity to use my awesome visual memory, wants to pull cards too.

6) Sean: Blue!

Me: No, Sean.  Red.  That’s red.

Sean: Blue!

Me: No, Sean.  That’s orange.

Sean: Blue!

Me: Good job, Sean.  Blue.

Sean: Blue!

Me: No, Sean.  That’s green.  Grrrreeeeeennnnn.

7)Evan must make up a story about every move, every person, every color, every square, every picture, every move.

8)Evan: And this guy said hello.  He liked red, but he didn’t like blue.  Or green.  Just red.  And he said, “Look at those squares.  There is a red one and a blue one and a green one and a yellow one and an orange one.”  And he jumped to the red one because he liked red.  He said to the kids, “Come follow me.”  And they followed him.  There was a little girl, a little boy, another little girl, and another boy.  They sat at the- What’s this called again?  Oh, yeah.  The gingerbread tree, and they said, “Hello, gingerbread tree.” And he said . . .”

9) Evan has to ask the same questions over and over and over.

10) Evan: What’s that, Mommy?

Sean: Blue!

Me: That’s a peppermint beaver.  No, Sean.  That’s orange.

Evan: Oh, and what’s he doing?

Me: Cutting down-

Sean: Blue!

Me:- candy canes.  No, Sean.  That’s yellow.

Evan: And who’s that?

Sean: Blue!

Me: Mr. Mint.  No, that’s yellow again.  Same card I think.

Evan: What’s that?

Me: A peppermint beaver.

Sean: Blue!

11) Evan thinks that double squares actually mean three squares.  The first one doesn’t count.

12) Evan wants to go down the bridges, back and forth and without landing on them.

13) Sean is obsessed with ice cream.

Sean: Cream!  Cream!  (after he moved my head to look, pointing at the ice cream palace.)

14) Does any one remember when it was Princess Lolly, daughter of the King of Candy Land?

15) Evan: Mommy, what’s that?

Me: (How many times do I have to tell you it’s) The Chocolate Swamp.

16) Evan doesn’t want to keep drawing cards and is surprised he didn’t win as soon as he usually does; while, I kick myself for not stacking the cards And stacking the cards.

17) After finally making it to the chocolate monster, Evan wants to visit the peanut area.  And read the story.  And ask me more questions.  And tell me more stories.

18) Sean decides he wants to move the board.

19) Candy Land ends the way Monopoly used to end at my parents’ house when I was a kid.  Game pieces were thrown, cards scattered, and Mom yelling to quit it.

20) Evan wants to put away the board before Sean does.  Crying resumes.

21) Evan decides he wants a lollypop.  No, a candy cane.  No, chocolate.  How about some ice cream? 

Sure you do, kid.  That was the whole point of the game.  But I guarantee you, I need it more than you.

Sean: Blue!

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Another Little Brother

My first clear memory was when I was three, just a handful of months before my fourth birthday.  I caught my parents looking at two plastic bat and ball sets.  I knew I shouldn’t have looked, shouldn’t have been there, but I saw them and ran back to where I was supposed to be.

The next memory was a few days later.  My little brother and I were playing with the bat sets in the backyard of my grandparent’s house.  I had received a red bat and yellow ball; while, my little brother had a yellow bat and a red ball.  We switched balls.  I was always given red things, and my brother always received blue.  I always got the hero action figure, and my little brother always got the side-kick.

I remember throwing the ball up and trying to hit it.  I was wearing a short set, probably pink, though I’m only guessing because of photographs.  I remember we didn’t have much success of hitting the ball. 

Then the memory flash forwards to dinner, just a few hours later.  My grandparents, brother, and I were sitting at the breakfast bar, eating chili, when my dad came into the kitchen door.  He looked tired.  He looked happy.  I remember being excited to see him, yelling daddy from my seat as I couldn’t jump up to hug him as I hadn’t finished my meal and been excused.  He kissed me.  He shot a look at my grandma that I couldn’t interpret at the age.

“You have a new baby brother,” he said.

I was crushed.

I wanted a baby sister, not another brother.  Not another brother.  Later I would learn that my dad had called my grandma earlier that day to give her the good news, which she refused to pass on to me because I was so very certain I would have a baby sister, not another brother.  That was twenty-five years ago today.

The next memory I had was sitting at the dinette table (the one I’m sitting at now), coloring with my little brother and my mom.  I was happily chatting away about something.  I stopped, thinking.  “What’s his name again?” I asked.  My mom sighed and told me.  It wasn’t the first time I had asked, nor was it the last.

But luckily for me, I learned to love the little guy, and after we grew up out of the sibling rivalry crap, we became friends.  I couldn’t ask for a nicer, sweeter baby brother.  Of course, he’s now my Big baby brother. 

As for my just deserts, our family dog has just turned sixteen, and for sixteen years, my brother has accidently called me Athena, instead of my name when he’s in hurry and not thinking.  Pay backs are a bear.

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Five For Fighting

I know I should have seen it coming.  I knew it was coming.  I should be more prepared.  I should have read books about this.  I should have talked to my mom about it more.  Heck, I should have-

 

What’s going on now?  Be nice!

 

Talked to other moms about it more.  But I didn’t, and now I don’t feel-

 

Knock it off!

 

Prepared.  Because-

 

Be good!  Stop harassing your bother!  Both of you!

 

I am now The Referee. 

 

Like I said I knew it was going to happen.  I mean my brothers and I harassed each other so much that I’m amazed my mom didn’t go prematurely gray, and my dad does blame his hair loss on it.  I just was hoping

 

If Evan is playing with the car, you cannot have it, Sean!  You have to wait until he is done.  Here take this car.

 

That I had a few more years, a few more months, just a few more wee-

 

Sean!  We do not throw cars at our brothers.  Time out!  Evan!  We don’t hit back!  Time out!

 

I need a goddamn whistle.  Hell, I need a penalty box.  F-it I need a drink.

 

I remember how my mom would point out other families whose kids never fought.  We explained to her that it was hidden, unnatural, weird.  Now I realize my words are coming back to bite me in the ass.

 

Boys!  You can play a duet on the piano.  Share!

 

Lately I have been barking the orders to share and to be nice.  And for the love of God, be good.  How hard it is to share?  How hard is it to play with another-

 

We have two guitars.  You can each have one.  Take turns then!

 

So my job description sounds a little like this: maid, chef, dishwasher, laundress, chauffer, personal shopper, doctor, nurse, reader, filer, garbage collector, decorator, librarian, camp counselor, teacher, babysitter, and now Referee.

 

As The Referee, my job disc-

 

Evan, you stay on this side.  Sean, you stay on that side.  Now everyone has room to play.  Evan!  Don’t mess with Sean.

 

Description is to make sure that all injuries are due to accidents and not malice, to keep life as fair between siblings as humanly possible, and to make sure all rules with their penalties are enforced properly.

 

Now what?!

 

I need a time out.

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