Saturday, June 14, 2014

Oh, Brothers.

As of yesterday, we are one week into summer break.  One week.  And my boys are already squabbling as if it's late August after a very rainy summer.

It's making me crazy.

When they argue, they go into this high pitch, sing-songy whine that sounds worse than fingernails on a chalkboard.  Or rubbing styrofoam together.  Or whatever particular sound makes you REALLY cringe.  And the things they fight about!  Literally, they are 11 and 12, and still will fight about who gets to push the button on an elevator.  Or who left that empty can on the coffee table.  Or who sits on which side of the back seat.  It's so ridiculous.

They are, for the most part, pretty good brothers.  They do not physically fight (although I did witness J punching A pretty hard a couple weeks ago), and they tend to play together pretty well.  But lately...

Yesterday, for instance.  They have a buddy over for a sleepover.  Not unusual.  In fact, having friends over has become so common that they do not act any different to each other when they have company.  There was a giant argument last night because they were wrestling.  J said to "stop", and A requested that he say "Uncle".  This exchange apparently repeated several times until near hysteria, and there was hurt feelings.  That's when it was relayed to me.

Sometimes I just let them go, if they're not too close to me to drive me nuts.  But I didn't want them to keep going and make their friend feel uncomfortable, so I put a stop to it.  I also have zero tolerance for them getting violent with each other, and this was a little too close for comfort.  I made A apologize after appropriately shaming him (mua ha ha ha).  I then told them my new policy I'm trying out as of today.

Every time I hear them arguing in a ridiculous way, which is pretty much every argument they have, I will make them hug.  That's step one.  Then if it happens again within an hour, I'll make them hug again, but this time they'll have to say, "I'm sorry for fighting.  You're my brother and I love you."

Oooooh, I almost can't wait for the first argument of the day.  When I was a kid this punishment would have been torture for me, so I think this is going to be delicious.  And it's going to be a rainy day so my opportunities should come early and often.

Squabbling is a natural part of siblinghood.  I know this.  I grew up with an older brother and a younger sister, and I remember their fights well.  I rarely fought with them, due to my crippling fear of confrontation, but I remember being very upset by their hollering and chasing each other around.  Hubby has told me about how he and his brother used to fight, and it was much worse than my boys.  And my mom even told me that she and her brother would fight and it wasn't rare for it to come to blows.  Yikes!  If I saw my kids actually physically fighting in anger, it would scare the crap out of me.

But then, just when I think they're never going to be friends, I will witness a moment.

When the kids went to Valleyfair with their friends and A used some of his money to buy a poster for J because it made him think about him.

When I have to comfort J because he's devastated and aching over the struggles his brother is having with school, and feeling guilty that school is not hard for him, and worried that his brother is in pain.

When A tells J not to worry about middle school because he'll be there to answer any questions.

And best of all, when I overhear the giggly conversations they have when they think nobody's listening.

I know how important brothers and sisters are.  Hubby and I are blessed with very close relationships with ours.  I feel blessed every day that we are all so tight.  I know my kids will figure it out.

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