Tornado S’s First Time Out

Tornado S is teething, which is the toddler equivalent to PMS.  Add to that Tornado S was upset that he couldn’t go outside with his Uncle M to feed the dog.  Tornado S is a pouter.  His temper tantrums include him falling to the floor, face first, sometimes crying.  Tornado S had yet to fall to the floor, but he was pouting.  Tornado E, being the tormenting older brother he was, couldn’t help let the opportunity go by without getting into Tornado S’s face and being . . . well, a brat.

 

So Tornado S did what any naturally pissed off, irritated, annoyed person does when confronted with a bully.

 

He hauled out and punched Tornado E in the face.  When I mean punch, I mean Tornado S cocked his fist back and threw his weight behind it.  Tornado E landed on the floor.

 

For a minute the world stood still, and the four grownups, Papi, Uncle M, Daddy, and me, didn’t know how to react.

 

A family story reemerged.

 

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T was T, which is to say T was a tormentor.  He tormented me from the moment he could crawl, and then when M was born, well, it was just one more child to torment.  T just knew how to get under people’s skin, could see the weakness, knew this would get him attention.  So one day, T picked on M, who was just a mere toddler, over and over, ALL DAY.  M was a good natured little guy, enduring it with the fortitude of a rock, until the evening.  T was at M again, which probably wasn’t smart as M was as big as T, though two years younger.  Then in the midst of the teasing, M pulled back his fist and cocked T in the face.  My mother felt her hands were tied as T really did have it coming.

 

—–

 

I wanted to laugh but knew it wouldn’t help.

 

Papi: Tornado S.  It’s time for time-out.

 

I snapped to action.

 

Me: Tornado S.  That was a wrong decision.  That was not nice.  Now you have to go into time-out.

 

I scooped up Tornado S and placed him in the make-shift time-out chair.  I set the timer for a minute and half.  Turning towards the crying Tornado S who was being reminded to stay there by Papi, I saw Tornado E going in for the kill as now Tornado S was a sitting duck.  I swooped in and sent Tornado E to play with Uncle M, rather than taunting his imprisoned little brother.

 

At the end of the time-out, where amazingly Tornado S stayed sitting the whole time, I placed Tornado S on my lap and told him I loved him and that he needed to hug his brother.

 

Tornado S went toward Tornado E to hug him.  Tornado E raised his arm, holding a stuff dragon.  I stuck out my arm to block the blow before it hit Tornado S.  Tornado E’s momentum kept going, sending him face first into my arm.  With a wail, Tornado E shouted “MOMMY HIT ME!”  DON’T HIT YOUR BROTHER.

 

Begun, the clone war has.

I’m sorry, but . . .

Evan pushed Sean.  I demand Evan to apologize to Sean, wondering if I should put Evan in a time out, but I decided an apology was enough.

 

Evan: I’m sorry Seanny for pushing you, but you shouldn’t have tried to take my bike.

 

That’s not what I meant at all!

 

I’m sorry I hit you, but your face was in the way of my fist.

I’m sorry I ate the last pizza, but you weren’t there.

I’m sorry, officer, but you shouldn’t have been radaring me.

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1.2.3.4. I declare sibling war.

It happened.  It finally happened.  Ok, maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised. 

 

Last weekend we were visiting some friends, and in their backyard was a swing set with a slide.  The boys were so excited to play with it.  Eventually Evan discovered a new game o0f rolling cars down the slide to Sean who laughed with glee, giving me the car to hand back to Evan to start the process all over again.   Evan kept in his other hand a purple Halloween flashlight that he found and wanted to carry around the house.  So after a dozen times of rolling down the car, Evan realized that the flashlight was round like wheels.  Let’s see what happens.

 

Success.  The flashlight rolled perfectly into Sean’s waiting hands, but rather than hand the flashlight to Mommy, Sean’s chubby hands closed around the flashlight.  Then Sean turned and started pumping those thick legs for all they were worthy.  Evan let out a cry and threw himself down the slide.  This is bad.

 

Since my legs are longer than the boys are tall, I shot past Evan with ease.  Sean had the element of surprise even though he still has that waddle run with his arms pumping side to side.  I caught up to him before he rounded the pool, shouting to Evan to let Mommy handle this.  I grabbed Sean and set him down, kneeling to look eye to eye. 

 

“Evan was playing with this.  This is Evan’s toy.  When he is done with it, you can play with it.  Now give it to Mommy.”

 

I know the only reason Sean wanted it was because Evan had it.  I pried the flashlight out of Sean’s fingers.  I handed it to Evan.  Sean’s hand shot out and grabbed the flashlight.  They tug-a-war-ed it.  I grabbed Sean, pulling him off the flashlight.  Sean wailed as though his puppy died.  Then I carried him inside and dumped him into my husband’s lap.

 

“What’s wrong, Sean,” asked my husband.

 

“He’s acting like a second born.”

 

***

I shouldn’t have been so surprised.  Maybe I should have been surprised over how long they were friends.  According to family legend my brother and I declared war much earlier on.

 

I was sitting, watching TV, holding my Teddy, sucking on my pacifier, minding my own business.  When my brother, my non-sucking pacifier brother, crawled over, he took the pacifier out of my mouth and crawled away.  When he was safely past arms length, he sat down, waved the pacifier in my direction to make sure I knew he had it, and stuck it in his mouth.  Are you kidding me?!  And I did what any toddler would do.  I started to cry.  And plot revenge.

 

And then it was a free for all after that.  Little moon-shape scars from fingernails.  Clumps of hair pulled from the root.  Barbie doll heads, hot wheel wheels, broken banks, broken toys.  Lies, blaming, tattling, arguments.  Wrestling matches that went on hours after the favorite TV show was over and unwatched.  A malignant hate that spread amongst the three of us in all consuming war that finally cumulated to the devastating head of-

 

Actually we eventually grew out of it in our late teens, early twenties, and we actually call one another and hang out.  It’s weird.  Of course, the minute the parents leave us alone with the TV and remote, we start arguing again.

 

***

 

So now whatever Evan has, Sean must have  it NOW.  If Evan is eating something, even if Sean has his own or already ate his own, he must have Evan’s NOW.  Not that Evan doesn’t just run by to hit, push, kick Sean whenever he gets the urge.  You can actually see it in Evan’s eyes when he’s decided to do something to Sean.

 

The other day, Sean bent down to examine something on the ground.  Evan took the opportunity to go behind Sean and start kicking him in the bum.  Sean was as unmoved as a rock.  I was horrified, and Evan spent sometime in the time out chair.

 

Or the day when Evan refused to nap and fell asleep on the couch watching football with his dad.  Out of nowhere, Sean came over and just started wailing on Evan, who slept through the whole thing.  We would scold Sean and distract him, but two minutes later he’s getting in his blows.  Hey, show some respect.  At least, do it when your parents aren’t watching!

 

So I’m knee deep in sibling rivalry.  Part of it’s my fault because I can’t seem to remember to buy two of everything.  Why the hell didn’t I buy two Wall*e’s.  And Bill Cosby may be right; eventually I won’t care about justice, just peace.

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A Peaceful Silence with this Evening Brings

As I began to make dinner, I realized an eerie silence had descended.  (When you’re a parent, any silence is eerie.)  I looked over to see that Dora was unwatched, towers were unbuilt, and sirens unsung.  Not a good sign.  I stepped out of the kitchen to try and hear the pattering of little feet upstairs, destroying bedrooms, bathrooms, or my jewelry.  Nothing.  I went into the office, which was where I last saw the boys and had assumed they followed me out.  What could be interesting in there?

 

With color pencils, crayons, and plastic wrap scattered around them, my boys sat coloring in the same coloring book.  Evan looked up and smiled.

 

 Evan: Look!  Mommy!  It’s time to color!  It’s coloring time!

 

I smiled back, reminding them to color in the book, no where else, and I turned back to make dinner.

 

Five minutes later, I heard Sean crying.  I ran to see who was really in trouble.  Was Sean stuck on something?  Or did Evan, in brotherly love, smack Sean?  I rushed back into the office.

 

Evan: Seanny, wants the pencils!  But he can’t!  They’re  TOO sharp!  And he’s TOO little!  He can get hurt!

 

Sweet, kind, loving, except for the fact Sean was doing fine with coloring pencils five minutes before.  But I can be practical when I have to be, and so I gave Sean the crayons.  We lived happily ever after.

 

Until someone had a toy the other brother wanted.

 

 

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The View of Siblings

Saturday night before the game, we tailgated.  While I tried to corral Sean and convince Evan to eat, my brother and a couple of his friends showed up to liberate us of some of the food.  Proving that he is growing up, my brother also brought some beer to share.  As Sean decided to play in the dirt, I stood talking with one of the friends who was a bit tipsy and always flamboyant.  In the middle of the conversation, ranging from his reading only Maxim and his business plan of opening up a baby proofing store, he told me how cool it was that my brother and I got along and how my brother always says the nicest things about me and how I’m the serious one, the one with goals.  Excuse me? 

 

If I didn’t know the friend better, I would have thought he was a recent addition to my brother’s circle.  But the friend in question has been hanging out with my brother since he graduated high school.  And like most of my brother’s friends, my parents know and like this kid.  My mom claimed, on Saturday night, that the friend was welcomed to come by even with out my brother.  (It should be noted that though they still don’t think things through thoroughly, my brother’s friends are a bunch of comedians.  Think the show Jackass but with a cute lovable little brother side.)

 

So that’s when it hit me.  We are truly different from what others see of us.

 

I.  The Serious One.  The One With Goals.  Ok, granted in high school, I put my head down and rushed through high school, determined to get to the other side, collage.  I worked my butt off to get good grades, doing my time in National Honor Society.  I lettered in swim team three times as well as drama.  I became straight edge and spent many a Saturday night babysitting to make money towards college.  I went away for college, working my ass off because I was paying for it and I loved it. 

 

But me serious?  I was doing run by knockings between reading Goethe.  After freshman year, I adopted the theory that if I didn’t know my stuff by finals, I was in deep sh- anyways, so why stress.  I told other students that I had a fake major, one that could be purchased for 500 bucks through a mail course.  I did pranks that would later put me on probation, and I ran a miniature theft ring, stealing plastic gems from Disneyland.  (All in the name that it was ridiculous to charge five bucks for a bag of plastic that cost pennies to make; not real sound logic and incredibly stupid and self- centered.)  Hell, my best friend and I stole the local Republican headquarters’ Bush/Cheney 2000 sign that was 3 by 6 feet and ran it the several blocks back to the car because we didn’t have a car.  Before kids, I believed a healthy lunch was a carton of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and I threw a Halloween party in March.  I can quote whole episodes of The Simpsons, and I break out in songs and dances.  I’m completely not serious.  And if I was good with my goals, I would have a published book by now like one of my college friends.

 

My brother, now he’s serious.  Ok, granted he went through an alcohol-consuming, pot-smoking, girl-chasing phase, but underneath it all was the calculating, logical, serious brother.  He has always had his eye on the prize, imagining what business venture would make him the cash he wanted.  He’s a math wiz, wanting to major in engineering.  He loves cars.  He went from engineering to biology to finally business as majors.  Business!  Does that sound as non-serious as a creative writing degree?  He’s getting a minor in Spanish.  How absolutely practical, which compares to my two semesters of Italian.  He has his goals lined up, and he knocks them down.  He may have spent a semester in Florida partying, but he spent a summer working for my husband while selling jewelry on the weekends. 

 

It’s just amazed me that we see each other so differently.  We are pretty different.  I was the creative writer, wishing to be an artist; he was the designer of cars.  (I swear he was the first one to think of a Hummer limo.)  He puts people at ease; while, I am completely tactless.  He was the cool one, refusing to acknowledge me at school unless he needed a ride, and I was the one hanging out with all the nerds with enough pull to keep people from beating up my brother when he stepped on the wrong toes.  School and athletics came easy to my brother; I struggled to figure out how to learn.  As we grew older, college fit me like a glove, and my brother tried to understand the new concept of college learning.  When I was debating on going and getting my PhD in women’s studies, my brother was contemplating a career in breast augmentation.  At one point, I swore there couldn’t be any more different siblings.

 

But at least it’s nice to hear my brother likes me.  I like him.  It took years for us to get to this point.  At one point we both wished the other would just fall off the end of the earth.  We fought viciously to my parents’ horror.  But now I call him every week or so, and sometimes he even answers.  Really, he’s a great guy.  I just can’t believe he thinks I’m serious.  I wear fairy shirts for crying out loud. 

Battling Wills

My mom used to threaten us with “One day you’ll have a child just like you.  And if God is kind, it’ll be a child of the opposite sex, just so you don’t know what to do.”  She was referring mainly to my younger brother.  Those two are peas in a pod and went to battle ALL THE TIME.  My boys are too young to really see who they act like, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my share of battles.

A year ago, Evan decided he didn’t want to nap.  I NEED his naps, and he NEEDS his naps.  I wasn’t planning on taking no for an answer.  So after ten minutes, he came out of his room to tell me he wasn’t tired.  I escorted him back to his room.  Five minutes later he was thirsty.  I handed him his water cup and left.  Ten minutes later he was kicking his walls.  I thanked God that Sean was peacefully asleep in his bassinet in my room.  Five minutes later Evan declared it was time to get up.  I returned a kicking, whining child to his bed.  Ten minutes later he was whining for cartoons.  He tried to dodge me as I went to grab him. Over the shoulder and back to his bed.  Ten minutes later he was in the nursery and tried to climb the crib, giggling.  I dragged him back to his room.  After two hours of fighting, Evan conked out, just before I was about to let him out, and Sean woke up.  The funny thing is a week later I met a woman, with children the same age as mine, who told me her two-year-old refuses to take naps.  As I watched the cranky, tired child stumble around as Evan napped, I thought that’s a fight I would win.  But to each is their own, and Evan still naps, though we have to go to the mat every other month or so.

That was another thing my mom told me.  Children will always test their boundaries to see if the boundaries are still there.  It’s like Jurassic Park, when they were explaining how the raptor kept testing the electric fencing.  Actually now that I think about it, I bet I could come up with more than one comparison of raptors and children . . .

Yesterday was another battle.  Maybe you’ve noticed the tambourine activity that is new.  Well, yes, the boys did love it, but Evan preferred to throw the beans all over the dining room.  At first I felt it was my fault for bringing out the whole container beans and debated on putting out a warning, but my mom said even if it was a bowl, he still should not have done it.  True.  Evan was already a half hour into the punishment when I talked to her.  Yup, he was sitting in the middle of the floor “picking up” beans, which entailed playing with them and throwing them and laughing at Sean as he tried to eat them.  I called my back-up (my mom), who said put him in time out when he won’t pick them up.  For two and half hours we “picked up beans,” I picked up the ones Sean threw, tried to show Evan how you make a pile to go faster, and demanded to do it.  I tried everything: time out, go to your room (incredibly stupid because he played), wait him out, scolded him, stood over him, ignored him, slapped his hand when after almost finishing he started to throw the beans again.  As you could tell, I was at my wits end.  So finally I did as I used to when he was a young toddler.  I took his hand and used it to pick up the beans.  Now I’m sure I didn’t do something right here.  I’m not sure what it was, but the beans were picked up and Evan didn’t get any candy for pottying and didn’t get to play for two and half hours.  I pray he learned his lesson.

Then today.  The very first sibling rivalry fight.  Note the date.  Evan is 3 and 2 months, Sean is 16 months next week.  I had made pancakes for the boys, but Evan refused to eat his.  Fine, then nothing until lunch.  But I did leave the pancake out because sometimes Evan will eat an hour or two later when he’s actually hungry.  I was upstairs getting dressed when I heard the screaming and crying.  Racing downstairs, I see Evan whining for pancake and Sean crying.  I pick up Sean and asked Evan what happened. 

Evan: “I hit Seanny on the back.”

My jaw dropped. He admitted to hitting.  He’s telling the truth.  He’s actually telling the truth.  Wait.  He hit his brother.  Ok.  Calm down.  What to do?

Me: Why?

Evan: He took my pancake.

What?  The pancake?  The one you didn’t want to eat!  That pancake!  And of course, it’s just like Sean to see food and decide he hungry and he’ll have that.  And I look, and sure enough there’s a pancake on the floor with two baby bites.  Ok.  Think.

So I sit on the stair and motion Evan over. 

Me: I bet that made you upset.  But did hitting Sean get your pancake back? (Evan shakes his head.  Sean skirms out of my lap and walks away.)  I think next time Sean takes something that is yours you tell Mommy.  Sean’s too little to know it was your pancake.  He thought you weren’t going to eat it.  Next time say: Mommy, Sean took my pancake.  Can you say that?  (Evan repeats.  Sean comes back and wiggles his way to sit in between us.)  Look, Sean loves you.  He wants to sit by you.  Can you tell him you’re sorry for hitting him? 

Evan: Sorry, Seanny.

Me: Now I’m proud that you told the truth.  That makes Mommy very happy.  But we can’t hit Seanny.  Now give me a hug.

Evan: (hugging me.) Daddy tells me the truth.

Me: Yes, he does.  Now do you want another pancake?

Evan: No.  I want a waffle.

Fine.

So it goes on.  As it is I just was summoned by a toddler who told me he can’t sleep because his bed is too hot. (Sorry, Dad, for all the times I used that.)  I took him back to his room, turned on his fan, turned over his pillow, and laid him back down.  And really, I guess I should be lucky that the boys waited THIS long.  Tim and I began the moment he crawled and took my pacifier away as I sat watching tv.  He didn’t even use a pacifier!  So this is family, wills trying to conquer one another and get what they want.  And it’s up to me to make sure things run as smoothly as possible.

Note: As I was putting the tags in, Evan is up again.  He can’t sleep because Seanny is snoring.  Sean does snore, but he’s a baby.  It isn’t loud.  They’re not in the same room.  And Evan has his fan on.  Nice try.  Try sleeping with your dad.  He shakes the whole house.