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"
"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?
(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.