Tag Archives: sibling squabbles

In the Eye of the Beholder

Contrary to what I’ve alluded to in the past, my kids are not monsters. And although I might have actually used that term on occasion to describe them, they’re not the unruly beasts I’ve made them out to be. They don’t howl at the moon, froth at the mouth or frantically paw the refrigerator when I forget to feed them.

Nor do they growl, unless provoked.

But apparently I know not of which I speak. Evidently some high and mighty prude who has seen my act begs to differ regarding the matter of my having or not having fiendish little children. Further, she’d likely argue the point if given the opportunity. Vehemently, I might add. All I’d have to do is invite Her Haughtiness to return to that happy place where she witnessed (i.e. heard, but could only imagine the scene that unfolded behind the flimsy partition that separated us) the mayhem with which I had to deal just four days before Christmas, crammed and jammed impossibly inside a restroom stall which was clearly ill-equipped to accommodate a mom and two cranky six-year-olds itching for Happy Meals.

I have no doubt the woman in question would be more than willing to sprinkle me with her wealth of sagacity, to dazzle me with her bells and whistles regarding behavior management and child rearing, to enlighten me with a report of everything I’ve done wrong as a parent thus far in my thankless journey—to spell it out for me on the terracotta tiles with French fries: YOUR PARENTING SKILLS SUCK AND YOU’D BE BETTER OFF RAISING CHICKENS, YOU DUMB CLUCK!

She might have a legitimate point. But probably not enough fries to say so.

Everyone knows that McDonald’s isn’t the ideal place to change clothes. Nor is it wise to instruct ungainly children to do so there—demanding from them a degree of perfection that is at best, unachievable. But there I was—parading my little waifs through the joint like some transient-sorry-excuse-for-a-mother, en route to the bathroom to supervise (oh-so-incompetently) the changing-out-of-pajamas-and-into-real-clothes gig. Make that abundantly muddied PJs. “I fell down on the playground today, but I didn’t get hurt, Mom—the mud was FUN!”

“Lovely. Just lovely,” I thought. “We now appear even MORE pathetic than I previously considered conceivable.”

Granted, it had been Pajama Day at school and it made perfect sense for my kids to be dressed as such (as well as still jacked from all the sugar they had consumed during the pre-holiday festivities). But no one else knew that. Most of the patrons I passed probably pegged me as someone who lives in squalor and who makes a habit of hauling her brood there to wash up and whatnot. In reality, however, we were simply using the loo as a staging area for a meltdown, which qualified as a performance of a lifetime as I recall. Prude Lady could testify to that at least.

Incessantly, it seemed, we bickered about who would get to stand where, who would go first, who would hold coats and bags and sneakers, who would get to flush (and when said flushing would take place), what did or didn’t happen during the Polar Express movie and whether or not a certain someone blew a kiss to a boy earlier in the day (“…because that’s not allowed, Mom; only hugs are okay!”).

Ostensibly, this meddlesome witch witnessed the entire routine, likely pressing her ear to the wall so as not to miss a single syllable. As expected, the debate continued within that tiny theater and escalated until it became a pushing and shoving match, spiraling out of control with each combatant furiously shrieking “YOU!!” while shoving a finger in the other’s face.

“She LICKED my finger, Mom!”

“She called me ‘YOU’ first!”

And so the battle raged. Throughout the ordeal, I was painfully aware of a disapproving audience hovering just inches away, and I felt the familiar sting of humiliation and frustration. All the while I snapped and snarled through clenched teeth, “Get your sleeve off the stinking floor!” “Don’t drop that into the toilet!” “Stop hitting your sister!” “Hurry up already with those pajamas and keep your socks ON YOUR FEET!” “Your father’s waiting, you know!”

How could I possibly explain myself, justify my children’s behavior or even show my face once I stepped outside the stall that had become my personal shield from the world? Miss Holier-Than-Thou would be waiting there for me, wagging her finger. Demanding answers. Chiding. Judging.

“Little monsters,” she’d also likely spit.

Oddly enough though, she had few (albeit barbed) words for me when I finally braved it. “GOOD LUCK!” she huffed condescendingly, as I hoisted my heathens to the sink to wash—their anger all but diffused and differences long since forgotten.

I couldn’t help but think she doesn’t get it. She only saw a tiny slice of my day and a mere shadow of the relationship I share with my children. She thinks my kids hate each other and that I must completely loathe my lot in life as their mom. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, but it’s important to take time to view the picture in its entirety. Snapshots don’t always tell the whole story.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel


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Filed under "S" is for Shame, Holiday Hokum, Kid-Speak, Normal is Relative, Ode to Embarrassment, The Natives are Decidedly Restless, Vat of Complete Irreverence, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

And the Battle Rages On…

As luck would have it (or not), mealtime in our household serves as a remarkably effective catalyst for that tired old conflict between and among my eight-year-old hellions, destroying what peace and tranquility may have existed hitherto. (“Peace and tranquility” being a relative term, slathered with innumerable conditions, of course). The issue at hand: Who will get to use the highly coveted yellow cup, brimming with liquidy goodness? Like some hoary gridiron quest to win the “The Old Shoe,” a fierce and deeply competitive rivalry has flourished for some time now—over “The Old Cup.” And it’s brutal at the line of scrimmage, people. Downright brutal.

Both kidlets long to wrap their greedy little mitts around said drinking vessel and call it their own. Forevermore. I may just have to make it “disappear” one day, in order to settle this thorny issue once and for all—to permanently remove it from the growing list of things over which my kids fight, to include a one-legged Ken doll, a rickety yard sale chair (circa early Precambrian) and a pathetic looking plastic pony with wheels and a detachable mane. Hell, they’ve been known to squabble over who gets to vomit in the Nine Lives bucket with the pretty kitty on it. Strange but true.

Perhaps wrangling over a silly cup isn’t so terrible after all—aside from having to endure the endless bickering that ensues.

“I get the yellow cup ‘cause you had it last time.”

“Uh-uh, I get the yellow cup ‘cause I called it first.”

“Did not.”

“Did so.”

“Did not!”

“Did so!”

And so the battle rages, with no end in sight. Tupperware ought to be flattered.

With all the hullabaloo surrounding its apparent desirability, it would certainly make sense. I wonder if they even know there are kids out there—multitudes maybe—who would gladly trade their prized Pez dispensers for a Tupperware tumbler—especially for one that happened to be discontinued. Hence: The never-ending dispute over that wretched yellow cup.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out what makes it so gosh-darned appealing. It’s a stupid plastic cup, for Pete’s sake! It has no grand fancy-schmancyness about it. No built-in straws or funky handles. No wacky lids or glow-in-the-dark messages. No inherent cleverness involving color changes or disappearing and reappearing pictures is apparent. In my opinion there’s absolutely nothing interesting about the cup at all. It’s boring with a capital B. A plain Jane destined for the recycling bin.

Needless to say, the utter bizarreness of this whole infatuation thing has made me virtually insane with curiosity, and has even driven me to the point of studying every curve and nuance of that blasted cup with a magnifying glass I pilfered from the kids one night. “What’s so blooming special about it?!!” I had to ask, fool that I am.

“It’s pretty.”

“It’s nice.”

“It’s golden-y yellow, Mom.”

That’s all I could wheedle out of the pair. Not a syllable more. Ugh. What a bunch of tightlipped pansies. Couldn’t they cough up more information? Didn’t they realize they were making me crazy with their answering-by-not-really-answering tactic?! “It’s pretty, it’s nice and it’s golden-y yellow” doesn’t help me much. Still pitifully clueless here at Interrogation Central.

Sadly, it is entirely possible that I may never truly know and understand the powerful allure of the infamous “Yellow Cup,” or why my children believe it to possess said irresistible qualities.

Just add it to the ever-expanding list of things I’ll never figure out as a parent—like why my co-ed daughter has a nicer car than I do.

Perhaps it’s because she never got the yellow cup.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2006 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Kid-Speak