I’m sure that it will come as no surprise to you that attorneys are superlatively trained when it comes to conflict. We can initiate conflict, terminate conflict or jump right slap in the middle of conflict and throw a fantastic turd in the churn. I’ve started, ended and just plain participated in some real doozies.
I’ve ducked a few swings after getting accidentally caught between some very fired up individuals. I’ve had objects from paper to chairs and everything in between thrown at me. I had one dude try to spit on me (thank God he had even worse aim than his common sense). I have even been inadvertently pepper sprayed after having the bad luck of being in the back hall of the courtroom when an inmate decided to go bat shit crazy. (For the record it hurts like a mother and there is absolutely no way to play it down or act cool when you get a snoot full of that stuff.)
So, I am professionally trained to handle situations where the claws come out. Notice how I said “professionally trained.” Yep, I can handle some seriously bizarre stuff as an attorney (you think you know, but I haven’t even printed a quarter of it), but I am at a complete loss when it comes to my Baby Belles scrapping with each other.
Sibling rivalry dates all the way back to Cain and Abel and, to be frank, I thought someone would have come up with a solution in the yawning chasm of time between Adam and Eve’s progeny and the birth of my precious little pumpkins. Alas, I am cast to the wind.
Now, many of you who know me as probably thinking, “Um...Ashley, you have a brother.”
Yes, I do have a brother. My brother is roughly 5 years younger than me, but here’s the catch: We never really fought. Yeah, we had our disagreements here and there, but there wasn’t a hint of the daily baiting, nit picking and interminable whining and fussing that has manifested in my angels. No, Ethan and I were much more likely to gang up on our parents—we have the same taste (or lack thereof) and identical senses of weird, weird humor. We even kind of talked in our own language and learning that it drove our parents crazy spurred us to do it all the time.
Scott is also at a bit of a loss in our current situation. He is the youngest of four kids with 10, 8 and 6 years between him, his brother and his sisters. Can you say “surprise package” boys and girls? Scott often says that it was more like he had 5 parents instead of two parents and 3 siblings.
So, suffice it to say that Scott and I are tee totally clueless.
Silly me, but I thought that I effectively decreased the potential for sibling warfare. In light of the age difference between me and my brother and Scott and his brother and sisters, we figured that the age gap was the trick. Older children can better employ logic and reason and therefore can be more excited and less jealous when the new bundle of joy hits the scene. At least that’s how it worked in our situations.
At first, we thought that we were golden. Baby Belle 1 was so excited about being a big sister that she could hardly stand it. There was one little hiccup when we found out we were having a girl rather than the boy she wanted, but the news was easily overcome and she moved on.
When Baby Belle 2 arrived, Baby Belle 1 was thrilled. She was like a little mother and—other than being weirdly fascinated with using the snot sucker bulb on BB2’s tiny little nose—BB1 was totally in love with her little sister and fantastic around her. The joy, harmony and emotional rounds of Kumbayah lasted until BB2 learned to crawl.
Once BB2 learned to get to the things that captured her fascination for the first eight months of her life, BB1 started to see the drawback of being a big sister. BB2 liked BB1’s stuff. It only took a couple of torn book pages and teethed Barbie dolls before BB1 was all but peeing on trees to mark her territory.
Toys that BB1 hadn’t even cast a glance at for years turned into her must-have items the second BB2 reached for them. That’s when my little possums started hissing at each other.
In the beginning, I used the “she’s a baby” reasoning to help stem the tide of the argument: “Honey, you’re little sister’s just a baby and she had it first. Besides, you haven’t touched that old thing for years—you wouldn’t have even noticed it if you hadn’t seen your little sister going for it,” or, “Sugar, you’re the big sister and you can understand.” Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but it usually always ended in tears.
As BB2 got older, it wasn’t fair to use the “baby” argument if for no other reason than BB2 started taking serious advantage of it.
Then began the game of one-upmanship: If one wants mama, they both want mama. Boy, I feel loved. If one wants to watch a movie, the other not only decides that she wants to watch a movie, but she wants to watch a completely different movie. Boy, our DVD player feels loved, too.
After that, the War of the Howler Monkeys broke out. Oh, the screeching...and that little singsong tattling: “MaMAH, she pushed me!” I can’t even retroactively figure out who had whateveritwas first, which usually means I take the desired object away from everybody which inevitably causes louder and more plaintive wails from both precious darlings.
When will the lambs stop screaming, Clarice?
The little buzzards can’t even be nice at the same time. On those occasions where Baby Belle 1 is feeling benevolent and tries to hug her sister, Baby Belle 2 doesn’t want a thing to do with her. Likewise, when Baby Belle 2 is being sweet and says “thank you” or “goodbye” or anything polite like that, she is completely ignored by her older sister.
On the very rare event—when the stars and the planets are in perfect alignment—the two will play well together and I suspect it is for no other reason than to throw me and their daddy off our game. Many times the truce results in something around the house being broken or colored on.
Yes, as other parents with more than one child quickly and gleefully remind me, the fun is apparently just starting. Oh joy. Who knows? If I manage to make any headway, I might scoot over to try and handle that little kerfluffle between the Israelis and the Palestinians.