Thursday, May 08, 2008

Sibling Rivalry

Well, the day has come. I think we have officially encountered Sibling Rivalry in the house. It's been rearing its head in tiny spurts, here and there--the occasional spat, the off-and-on teasing, the gloating when one of them is punished and the other is not. sigh. I was really hoping this particular issue would pass over our house like the plague passed over the homes of the Israelites who had painted their doorposts with blood.

At this point I think there will be blood on the door-posts, but it will most likely be drawn by my kids and not from a lamb.

I should have known this was coming. Hearing tales of my husband's constant antagonizing of his sister when they were younger, and recalling my memories of knock-down, drag-out fights with my own brother, should have prepared me for The Ugly Fight.

While making dinner, I heard shrieking coming from the bedroom with the computer. I opened the door to see The Rationalist sitting on top of Intuitive Monkey, holding him down while Monkey had The Rationalist by the throat. It took them a few seconds to register that I was there and that TROUBLE was coming their way.

Surprisingly....I didn't overreact.

I sat them on the bed and asked them to start from the beginning and explain how playing a computer game had turned into a cage fight. Luckily, they're pretty honest and gave me the same story:

Monkey was playing a car-racing game. The Rationalist was helping him and something went horribly wrong. The Rationalist blamed Monkey, making Monkey furious and causing him to try and strangle his brother, because The Rationalist knew it wasn't Monkey's fault and that saying it was would make Monkey very angry. The Rationalist, purely in self-defense, decided that hitting his brother square on the head--3 times, not 5 times as Monkey claimed--would be a good way to end his impending death by strangulation. That makes sense...right?

yikes.

I feel so unsure how to stop this. We have the talk about how solving problems by hitting people is wrong. I ask Monkey what he thinks is going to happen if he starts hitting his brother, making him realize that he's probably going to get hit back and how everybody winds up hurt and angry....yada yada yada...all the stuff that you say to try and get through to kids. I explain that they lose computer privileges for a week, and must eat dinner by themselves in their rooms, and play by themselves for the rest of the night. That's so I don't kill them, rather than them killing each other.

Yet....it still seems so inadequate. The thing is, when they are calm, they understand and agree with everything I'm saying, but when that sibling anger takes over, it's all out the window. They have never hit another child or gotten into fights with other children. They seem to save their fury for each other.

At the same time, when they are getting along, they do so famously. They build things, invent games, talk animatedly about what their action figures are going to do, and make pictures and signs to hang up all over the house. They form a united front.

Except when they don't.

Wake me up when they're 18.

1 comment:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

18? My 22 and 20 y/o's just started emerging this year from it - though there was no blood after the younger years.

The technique of getting them to sit down and come back when they can tell you the same story has some effectiveness, but any strategy you come up with has a half-life of about 6 months.