I often wonder how my children will remember me.
If I had to venture a guess it would be something in the ballpark of that shrew who constantly nagged and begged us to be kind to one another, but made a real mean grilled cheese sandwich.
Because it’s true.
I am constantly reminding them to be kind to one another. To choose better, less hurtful words. To stop screaming and yelling and just being just so darn angry at each other. To stop fighting, arguing, bickering, disagreeing. To stop with the put downs and start with the put ups.
It’s such interesting behavior, this. Each one of my children—on his or her own—is kind, polite, and lovely. On playdates, at school, at extracurriculars—I hear it from teachers, parents, friends, strangers. Emily will take time out of her day to paint a kindergartener’s toenails. Josh will spend his recess helping a struggling reader. Isabella will make signs and cards for her friends. When I went to the school for parent teacher conferences, the principal pulled me aside and said, “Keep doing whatever it is that you are doing, because those Martell kids are just wonderful.”
Emily would never paint her sister’s nails.
Josh would never help his sister with homework.
Isabella would never make a card for her brother.
They are monsters to each other.
ALL OF THE TIME.
My kids are not unique—I know this with every fiber of my being. I really, really do. Even when I read blogs and see pictures and hear stories about all of the sibling love out there—smiling, playing, cuddling, helping, kindness—I know that sibling rivalry exists out there too, it’s just probably less documented because it doesn’t read that well and it certainly doesn’t photograph all that well.
I know the party line you are about to say: My sister and I hated each other until I moved out; now we are best friends. My brothers and I fought like cats and dogs, and now I couldn’t even imagine going a day without speaking to them. My sister is my best friend, even though I couldn’t stand her when we were kids.
I know the party line because I lived it—I didn’t appreciate how awesome my sister was until we were adults. Once upon a time, I even gave her a nasty scar-filled bite through the seat of her jeans when she was, uh, sitting on my face. Now I know that she is more special to me than just about any other person on the planet. And I love the heck out of my two brothers no matter how much we bickered about Super Mario Bros. as kids.
I know it will get better.
I know that one day they will appreciate how lucky they are to have each other; how special siblings are.
It’s just so hard and frustrating right now.
It’s tiring and troubling and sad and hard NOW. We can’t make it through a breakfast, a car ride, a family movie night without it. We can’t have a conversation without disagreement about something, anything, everything. Am I supposed to ignore the monstrous behavior? Am I supposed to draw attention to it?
Neither option seems like a feasible one, if I’m being honest.
So now I throw my arms in the air and just have hope that it will get better one day.
Because I’d really just rather have them remember the grilled cheese.