I truly believe that my kids are going to kill each other one day. If not each other, then me…of a heart attack…as I scream at them while they pummel each other to a pulp on the couch for the 237th time while watching “Adventure Time” and fighting over who gets the last Fruit by the Foot.
As the older sister, I know full well that siblings fight. My younger brother Kevin always used to terrorize me when we were kids. The time he prank-called my parents pretending to be a school aide by announcing my absence from school (when I was totally there) will always be with me.
But no matter how many times I remind myself of this cultural norm, it still pains me to the deepest core of my motherly instincts when Ella and Liam go batshit on one another.
I’ve taken a multitude of approaches in trying to deal with this issue. I’ve yelled like Mommy Dearest, I’ve clenched my fists, forced myself to remain Zen and spoken in a calm, reassuring and loving voice. I’ve also just said f#$k it, and jumped in like the referee in a caged MMA fight and punt kicked them to opposite sides of the room.
I would say 99% of the time, Ella, the older one, initiates the fights. Liam is good at playing the victim and whining about it to the point that I’d rather listen to a Neil Young album on a five-hour loop. The other day, however, Liam was feeling rather ballsy and wasn’t having any of Ella’s crap.
In one of her loving, sisterly moods, Ella sashayed over to Liam who was playing quietly at the Legos table. “Can I play Legos with you?” she questioned sweetly. Instead of making room for Ella to create a mote to his Hogwarts Castle, he furiously clawed at her face and scratched her like a cougar starring at its prey.
Did I lose my sh%t this time? No. I was actually quite proud of myself. After I handed Ella an ice pack that I retrieved from the freezer, I casually went upstairs, closed the door to my bedroom, and ran a lovely lavender bath. Ding ding ding ding! I had come to the conclusion that most of their fights occur when I am in the same room. So I left. If I could jump in my car and hightail it to Nordstrom Rack, I would, but they’re only 7 and 9 so that could have potentially thrown me in jail for negligence.
Between the hypnotic sound of steamy running water, the calming scent of Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt Soaking Solution, and the breathing exercises I forced myself to repeat until my heart didn’t feel like it was going to leap out of my chest, I calmed down. I reminded myself over and over they probably wouldn’t kill each other. How many stories are there really of siblings under 10 killing each other over a game of Legos? We don’t have guns in the house. (Note to self: Google this fact tonight.)
After I emerged from my mini spa session, my 11 brow-crease was softer, my skin was supple and my nerves were massaged. My kids? They were playing like two little kittens at the kitchen table. You would have never suspected fowl play.
So far, this new disappearing ritual of mine works like magic. Except for the spike in our water bill, there’s really no downside. With all my free “spa” time, my legs are usually shaved, I have polish on my nails (chipped, but it’s on there), and I have caught up on “Bate’s Motel”. You see, my husband has also adopted my habit of “fleeing to the bathroom” during our kid’s brawls and installed a flat screen above the tub. HEAVEN.