This March writing challenge is organized by Two Writing Teachers
I have three sisters, but I grew up in many ways an only child, separated by 11 and 13 years age difference from the twins and our oldest sister. It wasn't until my twenties that we became peers. I was always baffled by sibling rivalry--I adored my sisters and they were sweet to me. Whatever the power jockeying and bickering that went on between them was mostly too subtle for me to notice, and by the time I was aware enough to pick up on those things, they were old enough to have dealt with most of it.
So the constant, unrelenting fighting of my two children has been disturbing, annoying, puzzling, frustrating, and too damn loud too damn often. We "solve" it by scheduling lots of one parent/one child events, since either one of them alone is about 500% more enjoyable than the two of them competing for attention. But then we feel bad about that too--aren't we just ducking the issue? Still, the noise, noise, noise, NOISE (to quote the Grinch) is more than we can handle a good deal of the time.
And then there are the days like today. When I got up, they were already ensconced in the platform tree house they were working on yesterday, a bag of chips balanced between them, headphones on, just hanging out. I heard giggling. GIGGLING. Mutual amusement, not mocking. They waved at me, beaming.
When the cold finally drove them in, I dropped the bomb that today is room cleaning day. Hand over all electronics until done. My son's behavior immediately went off the rails, and I sent him outside to finish picking up the branches all over the patio. As he calmed down with physical work, my daughter noticed a Scholastic Scope magazine I'd brought home, and we started to look at an article together. My son came in and looked over our shoulders, and I went on from the spread about animals who use bad smells defensively to an article about a young gymnast born without legs. They leaned in from either side, and when the article ended, my son suggested to my daughter than they clean both bedrooms together.
They then spent the next two hours working together in the ungoverned wilderness of my son's room. They shared ideas and effort and joked around as they worked. I had them break for lunch when the tone started to change to surliness, and they recognized that themselves. "It's a good thing you called us for lunch, Mama, because we were starting to argue too much. Can we take a break for awhile and then get back to it?"
Will they remember these days? When they're all grown up and someone asks them about their sibling, will their minds flash to mean pranks and shrieks of "I said GET OUT of my room!" or will they think of sitting side by side in a treehouse, of pitching in together to make a chore more fun for both?
I guess I'll have to wait to find out. In the meantime, maybe part of our break can be visiting one of their aunties. I haven't seen any of my sisters in a month or so, and I miss them.