Sunday, 16 November 2008

Think of me like Switzerland, but less officious/efficient


















































I wanted to write 'limiting' but didn't have enough "i"s. There's a joke in there somewhere but I'm damned if I know what it is.


So. Apart from playing with the letters, I need to talk to you about sibling rivalry. I mean, HOW boring is this? I understand that there are important evolutionary reasons for it, and that it presumably contributes to becoming a rounded human being through the crucial lessons bestowed by frustration, injustice, physical violence, name calling, etc. (Space Cadette, you can fill in the psychology stuff here), but oh my fucking god is it BORING. I have spend my weekend alternating between the following, time honoured parental utterances.



"You are SO BORING" (god, this one really brings back memories. Although not in a sibling rivalry context, the Bearded One used to say this to me all the time. I don't mean that in an abusive, misery memoir way. Just when I was, indeed, being boring.)


"Shut up, the pair of you"



"If you don't stop fighting over [thing] I'm taking [thing] and you're not getting it back"



"FINGERS"



"LASHES"



"I DON'T CARE whose fault it was, you're as bad as each other"

"I've told you before, I am NOT sorting this out for you."



"Why can't you just be NICE to each other for once?" (I love how pathetic this one is - you can tell I went to the Woodcraft Folk and played cooperative games can't you?)




Blah blah blah etc etc etc. I should just record them onto a dictaphone, it would save my vocal cords a whole lot of bother. It's not like anyone listens or anything. My authority is at an all time low in the Belgian Waffle household. I think I am widely viewed as just the person who picks up the glitter glue and hands out money. And whose presence is required at Oh fuck oh clock for Fingers' ceremonial rising from bed.




They are behaving like two particularly nasty and ambitious candidates in some reality tv series, vying for air time, telling tales, trying to show the other in a bad light. It's The Apprentice for small children. The only thing that is missing is Suralun Sugar glaring at them like a myopic bulldog and giving them a salt of the earth cockernee dressing down. Actually that might make all the difference. Bring him on! It makes me not like my children. It makes me want to shut them in a box until they are old enough to ignore each other entirely. I want no part of it.



My own lovely siblings are variously 8 years older and 10 years younger than me, and much as I loathed the infant Space Cadette with every fibre of my mournful, sulky ten year old body it was her mere existence I loathed, disturbing my status as Only Most Precious Being in Universe rather than the actual small person (who was by turn, repulsively coated in baked beans and rather sweet). By the time she was old enough to be actually annoying, I was old enough to feel sufficiently ashamed of myself not to squash her like a bug. I think in functional, psychological terms I am actually an only child. I believe I behave like I never had to fight with someone more or less my own size for toys and attention and treats or even just for kicks. I never had my 'edges knocked off' as people say. I am full of edges, selfish, fond of my own company, slightly appalled by big groups of people. Consequently I find the whole sibling thing alien and horrifying.


I turn to the CFO (middle of three brothers) and Violet (eldest of three sisters) for reassurance.


"Oh yes" says the CFO, nonchalantly, waving his Wii remote control thing around in a disturbing masturbatory fashion (this is irrelevant, but has been offending me for weeks) "OCD Boy (elder brother) and I basically tried to kill each other for about ten years. We were serious, too. It wasn't play. I hated him. It was the only time our dad ever walloped us, when we were kicking the shit out of each other"


"We were vile" says Violet "Especially Middle Sister and I. We were awful. Usually we shut Youngest Sister in a cupboard and got on with torturing each other. Or we ganged up on Younger Sister and made her do terrible stuff".


I add to this the fact that the Bearded One's sister split his forehead open with a coal shovel. I conclude this is all normal. However this makes it not an iota less irritating for the bystander/referee. And, apparently, the age difference between my children (22 months) is judged by experts to be Not Optimal. I assume by Not Optimal they mean "Viking style blood lust until late adolescence". I must prepare myself for the worst. But how?


One of those helpful women in the playground (don't you love those? Yes! Please share your parenting philosophy with me as I ineffectually try to disarm a four year old with blood lust, intent on splitting his brother's skull with a sharpened twig!) told me that it was vital for my children's intellectual and emotional development that I ignore them, and let them fight it out, only intervening when viscera starts flying around. I have tried this approach but they are stronger than I am with their industrial strength whining and recriminations and attempts to draw me in. I just want it to stop.


Does anyone have the magic bullet? Or at least some comforting anecdotes?



Those who don't can amuse themselves with this week's edition of 'Find Makka Pakka*'. Are you ready?


Steady?



Go!




(Yes, there are tortoises in my bath and they are being sprayed with water pistols. A lesser woman might find this problematic, especially if, for example, several of the tortoises chose to defecate in the bath.)
*Last week's lucky winner - your prize has reached an envelope but not quite La Poste. Tomorrow, I promise.


31 comments:

Kitschen Pink said...

I accidentally spelled fuck with the phonics wheel this week - oops! Well, it's a word and the idea was for beautiful boy to get as many words as possible! I'll willingly bet that no other mother in his class would have had that one on the list!
Think yourself lucky you're managing your children's sibling rivalry - it's far more annoying (honestly) when it's your husband and his siblings (52, 50 and 46 year olds and it gets more sinister when they're older - head-fuck games! My relationship with my brother was one of dotage - he beat me up, I did as I was told. Now we see each other at Christmas. It is these stories which make me look at BB and wonder if it is really so bad to have only one child - I spent years breaking my heart about it but sometimes, just sometimes, I think it might not be the worst thing in the world to be the one and only - It just means he's spoilt rotten and incredibly egocentric! God help the woman he marries! t.xx

Potty Mummy said...

Oh god, now you're just playing with us. Macapaca is behind the tap, showing his bottom to the tortoises.

And as for fighting, what do you mean 22 months is not optimal? Am I to gather from that that 28 months is not optimal either? Why did nobody tell me that when I was plotting to have exactly that gap between my two? After all, it's what my sister and I had, and look at us? We... oh yes, we fought like cat and dog.

Bugger.

Jaywalker said...

PM - You win! Though that's actually his head pointing at the tortoises. I won't split hairs though. Email belgianwaffling@gmail.com for your glittering Belgian prize (please tell me this is coincidence and you haven't been sitting here, fingers poised on mouse, since last Makka Pakka day?)

KP - Yay for the phonics wheel. It has a mind of its own...
I think one can be wonderful. Really. Your BB must be having the most fabulous childhood; those owl biscuits alone mean he is not allowed ANY therapy or recriminations in my book!

justme said...

Sweetie, do you think perhaps you need a holiday? Come visit me in rural kent and we can drink gin and eat chocolate and do internet shopping......
Only you ARE sounding a bit stressed.....

Jaywalker said...

Justme - horrifyingly, this is probably as good as I have felt in the last, ooh, five years. I am just veeeery good at complaining. I like to think of it as my super power.

livesbythewoods said...

But now you've told us all, it's not your superpower any more!

Honestly!

Didn't seven years of Evil Law School teach you anything??

Jaywalker said...

LBTW - curses! Apparently not.

elled said...

Random visitor from NaBloPoMo here!

I was trying to channel some helpful tips from when I wanted to kill my younger brother but.. Mud? Another brother? ...Nope, nothing's coming. It all seemed to get better when everyone got older. Except for the youngest. Maybe when he gets past the teen years.

pochyemu said...

My brother and I spent our childhood torturing each other verbally. We weren't physical because we knew we'd be in an awful lot of trouble, so it was all mind games.

My parents' favourite punishment for bickering/being awful:

'Standing'. A punishment involving standing facing a wall or a door, for maybe 20 minutes OR MORE at a time. It was awful.

Commenting on your blog is so much cheaper than therapy, thanks so much!

ptooie said...

Hrm. My girls are 19 months apart. So far, they are bestest friends... but then, the elder is only just past her third birthday.
I am an only child. My husband is eldest of 3- there are 5 years between him and middle sister, then 4 more down to baby sister. From overheard conversations, they all used to fight like crazy up through baby sister's teen years. He intended for us to have about 24-30 months between our children, claiming that would ease the sibling rivalry, and I was fine with that idea... mother nature had other plans.
Good luck to us all....

fourstar said...

There are 20 (twenty) moths between me and my brother. Actually, months. But moths was funnier so I left it in.

Anyway.

I once punched him full in the face at a beach because it was my turn on the inflatable dinghy. He needed corrective dentistry and still bears the discolouration to this day.

He also once whacked me in the kneecap with a snooker cue because I had played out of turn. I was off school for a week and have had cartilage surgery later in life (I can't prove this was him, but you know, like, duh.)

Sibling violence is normal. Let them get on with it. Blood comes off tiles easily; be thankful...

P.S. the Blogger Word Verification for this comment was "fratibaf" which really ought to be a new word for brotherly hatred...

Léonie said...

Once I was so cross with my little (approx. four year old) sister that I pushed her into a swimming pool that we happened to be standing by at the time. Her arm bands flew off and a nearby woman had to leap in, fully-clothed, to rescue her. I was not popular.

I have two sisters (I am the middle, one is 19 months older and the other is 36 months younger). We fought and played mindgames and tortured each other, ganged up, stole and ruined each others' toys, pushed each other over and did terrible things. Now we're all close, and look back on it all and laugh. I'm sure my parents must still be traumatised from it, though. Oh, hang on, that wasn't very reassuring. Sorry.

Pearl said...

I had the foresight to have only one and I've no advice whatsoever.

My brother, sister, and I are all less than 12 months from each other and there was buckets of water thrown, bedroom-closet-imprisonings, and late-night horror stories just to scare each other.

We no longer do things like that, but I am prone to sending my sister coupons for embarrasing items like adult diapers and flatulence-reducing pills.

We think that stuff's funny.

Pearl

Kate said...

Oh, Jaywalker, dear? Why is it that your updates aren't showing up in bloglines for me? Knowing it's blogyerselfsillymonth, I check every day anyway.

And i have no freaking clue what a makka pakka is. I guess I had better figure out if I want prizes.

Jaywalker said...

Elled - Hello! The mud interests me. Where did the mud come in?


Pochyemu - Why you're welcome. I love providing sweary, ranting therapy. It's my calling.

Ptooie - Good luck indeed, but perhaps it won't be needed. "Experts" say that under 20 months is better, apparently, for avoiding rivalry. Though possibly not for the parents what with the whole dead from exhaustion thing.

Fourstar - now THAT'S what I'm talking about. Proper bloodlust, with long lasting scars. I am obscurely comforted. Excellent WV.

Léonie - I think I feared as much anyway. More importantly, how do you feel about putting your parents into a cheap and nasty home when they are old? You won't will you? Will you? Please Léonie, give me something to hold on to.

Pearl - when I think of your poor parents I weep into my disgusting coffee. THREE children less than 12 months apart each? Brrr.

Kate - I don't even know what Bloglines is, I am totally incompetent remember. Here is Makka Pakka

http://www.inthenightgarden.co.uk/en/visit-makkapakka.asp

This morning Makka Pakka washed my face and a bowl of Cheerios. He is a most industrious little piece of felt.

Z said...

My older 2 were exactly 2 years apart. They fought too. I didn't dare leave them, as it was evident that physical injury was an intention. I aimed to be so mean that they'd hate me instead of each other, temporarily.

My third child is 8 and 10 years younger than his siblings. They adored him. He never remembers a single quarrel with either of them.

All of them get on fine now.

Oh, and my grandchildren are 18 months apart. They roll around like puppies, but adore each other. If one is ticked off for bullying the other, the wronged one sticks up for the bullier. Aged 3 and 2 now, I don't know if this will last much longer.

Wv is 'lonest'. A hint? Too late.

Completely Alienne said...

Just give up and accept it. That's life. Most of us grow out of it when we leave home, and if they don't at least they won't be doing it under your roof.

I am the eldest of 4 - middle sister (18 months younger) and I fought like cat and dog till we left home (silently however as our mother had a hard hand); we ignored baby sister (4 years younger - well, we had both expressed a preference for a puppy) most of the time and all 3 of us were thoroughly pissed off when little brother (11 years younger) turned up. Apart from child minding duties, we ignored him too and all left home asap. I now get on with both sisters brilliantly, and still ignore brother.

My two say they hate each other and still fight loudly and regularly. However, they do get on at least 50% of the time. The younger when small would always defend the elder if she thought one of us was being unkind to her (the elder has never returned the compliment). Astonishly, she did it again last night when I was cruelly tickling the elder!

Persephone said...

Solutions? Comforting anecdotes? 'Fraid not. Your theory about being a functional only child is supported by many experts in family relationships. Generally speaking, siblings born five years apart or more have the profiles of singletons and/or firstborns.

My sister and I, alas, were 28 months apart, but I don't think that was the issue. Brotherly and sisterly harmony is not always achievable. The sad fact is, you're either compatible with your siblings or not. I realized that we were not compatible when I was oh, about six and she was about four. And that was before she threw the entire set of Audubon encyclopedias at me, tome by tome; or beat me with a mapcase until the my arm was covered with welts. (The latter incident occurred when she was 14 and I was 16.) My mother's solution? Supervised physical fights. No, really. Me versus someone lacking inhibitions of any kind. Fortunately for me, sister moved out to live with her boyfriend at age 16. We still can't stay under the same roof for more than 48 hours. I love her, but I don't like her much.

Jaywalker said...

Hmm. Persephone, your account is interesting. By interesting I mean 'slightly terrifying'. What is a mapcase? Does it hurt a lot? Wow. I am impressed you survived.

CA - giving up, yes, I can do that. It is one of my superpowers (oh no! Foiled again!)

Z - Yes, some years too late. The WV is a cruel, if accurate oracle. Your account does not give me much hope. Ah, well.

Persephone said...

A map case is (in my definition) the heavy-duty cardboard tube that you store a map in. That's not what raised the welts though, it was the metal caps at the ends....

Jaywalker said...

OUCH

katyboo1 said...

My brother was two years younger than me. We hated each other until I left home at 17. Now we get on fine!

I once trapped him in a cardboard tube and threw matchbox cars at his head until I made it bleed.

I also stuck a stick in the spokes of his bike wheel as he was cycling round the garden. He flew over the handlebars so impressively. I said it was an accident!

Oh! And I kicked him out of a tree.

It was not good.

My children have four and three year age gaps between them and they still hate each other.

What I find baffling is that when they get so hideous we separate them and make them play in separate rooms. Then they will do everything in their power to reunite so they can carry on tormenting each other. It's hopeless.

Jaywalker said...

Katyboo - Jesus, woman! You were impressively evil as a child. Wow.
Yes - I also have that thing where they MUST be together. In order to kill each other. Senseless, but apparently essential.

Tracy said...

Oh, I am empathizing with you (and secretly laughing that it is not only happening in my house!)

Mine are 11 and 13 (25 months apart) with a 15 year old thrown in. It still hasn't stopped, the two younger constantly bicker about things that don't matter.

example:
13 yo "that train was really long"
11 yo "but it went by really fast"
13 yo" no it did not, it went so slow I saw the third car was blue"
11 yo "no, it was red"
13 yo "no it was blue"

and so on...and so on...

This had better stop soon, I have such little hair left from pulling it out during conversations like this.

Mr Farty said...

I am the youngest of five. My closest brother and I are 21 months apart and we fought all.the.time. Once when he saw me reading a book he grabbed it off me, tore out the last few pages and threw them on the fire.

I hear Terry Pratchett has a new book out. D is a big fan...not that I'm one to bear a grudge, but it's tempting.

Jaywalker said...

Tracy - at least we are not alone, I suppose. This is scant consolation!

Mr F - youngest of five, eh? Explains a lot [strokes chin]. The book thing - that is outrageous! And so devilishly clever. What does he do now? Is he a criminal mastermind?

emily said...

Wv for me is ackwaly - which has made me giggle... which may simply be due to the factt hat it is 7pm and im still at work however :(

There are 6 years between myself and my sister... when she was young (under 5)we got on really well... Then she became an evil moose... then i moved out to uni and she got worse - we actually fought more when i went away because she was much more nasty to my parents.. then she has just moved to uni this summer and has had her eyes opened i think, so is getting better...
Let them fight it out - are they roughly equal sizes? or is it a clear case of bullying? As long as the verbal abuse doesnt get too nasty, its pretty much all bounce-back from-able (which isnt a word but hey hum!)

Jaywalker said...

Emily - Lashes is nearly twice the size of Fingers, but Fingers is more aggressive and devious. It's probably a fair match. Let the battle commence!

Mr Farty said...

D works for the guvmint, so yes, he gets paid for doing bugger-all. I'd say that makes him a criminal mastermind.

Off to wrap his Xmas prezzie now...where did I put those scissors?

DCup said...

I keep trying to pink slip The Spawn, but they think I'm kidding so that hasn't worked. I tried running away from home last May, but that failed, too.

Do you suppose we are stuck?

Jaywalker said...

DCup - please tell me not. I don't think I can bear it. How about occasional child swaps?