December 11 13

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.



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.

  1. This is me, every minute of the day. So true: they are all great kids when they’re not around their siblings, but at home they save all their jerkiness for each other. I fight the urge to ram a fork in my eyeball daily.


    Comment by Amanda Brown on December 11, 2013
  2. Well, they will only remember the grilled cheese.

    I mean, I know my brother was awful to me and yet, when I think back, I’m like “yeah, we didn’t really get along, but it was fine.” I know it was decidedly NOT fine and I cried a lot and had a lot of bruises, but looking back, you don’t remember it.

    And your grilled cheese is THAT good. You should just go eat some now.


    Comment by Kristabella on December 11, 2013
  3. My inlaws call my kids The Bickersons. Heh.


    ali replied on

    I LOVE that. I might have to steal it.


    Comment by Alison on December 11, 2013
  4. Here too. Majorly right now. 12, 9 and 5 is just hard to get along. Or something. Seriously the only thing I can do is remind myself how much I adore my brother and how great a relationship we have. It sucks, but my parents never could get us kids to knock it off and I really don’t think there is a way. if there was their would be a zillion books written about it.

    Time. Age. Knowing that the people you meet as adults don’t understand how you were raised or how you came to be you, only your siblings get it.


    Comment by Issa on December 11, 2013
  5. Let me give you a different perspective. In my family, we weren’t allowed to fight or disagree. EVER. If we did, we would be in huge trouble, so we grew up never, ever fighting with each other. We also grew up learning how to stuff our feelings, not knowing how to communicate, stand up for ourselves, and work out our own issues.

    The result? I don’t have a relationship with my siblings at all. I don’t even know them.

    Somehow, I wish we had been allowed to fight.


    ali replied on

    It’s not that I take issue with fighting, though. I agree that not being allowed to disagree at all might be problematic. But my kids fight ALL OF THE TIME. They are never *not* fighting.


    Comment by Scatteredmom on December 11, 2013
  6. EVEN with the potential hand-holding punishment they still fight?


    ali replied on



    Comment by aly on December 11, 2013
  7. Mine fight all the time too. It’s exhausting. I’m tired of listening to my own voice. :( I hope they stop fighting before they go to university, I would like some peace around here before they are grown and gone.


    Comment by Sandy on December 12, 2013
  8. What about some seriously awesome reward/incentive if they can go 1, 2, 3 days without fighting or saying anything unkind? If they can do it maybe it will stick with them for awhile.


    Comment by Chris on December 13, 2013
  9. I feel your pain, similar situation at my house…. But. I tried something back in the summer, it really truly has made a huge difference with my kiddos. We started keeping track of when they did something KIND for each other, made a list that was kept front and centre on the fridge. Little things or big things, they all counted. When a sheet was filled up we would have a family treat – trip to DQ etc. We stopped keeping track a little while ago, yet still they contine being – gasp – nicer and kinder!! :)


    ali replied on

    I kind of love the idea of having kindness displayed front and center for everyone to see. I might try this.


    Comment by Nicole on December 13, 2013

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