If you read my blogs very often, you’ve probably figured out that I have two children. Amber is 16 and Braden is 7. It almost wasn’t that way. For a long time, my husband and I had pretty much decided that Amber would be an only child, and we were satisfied with that. However, sometime after Amber’s 6th birthday, we realized that we weren’t satisfied with the status quo and decided to give Amber the much-desired younger sibling she’d been begging for since about the time she learned to talk. She had convinced us that her world would not be complete if she didn’t have a sibling. And so, about six months into her eighth year, Braden was born and our family was finally complete.
There’s an old adage that says “Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it,” and it has become a mantra in our home. Amber, whose life without a sibling would never be “complete,” had begged and pleaded and wished fervently for a younger sibling…and that’s exactly what she got. Braden. Funny, mischievous, occasionally irritating but always entertaining, Braden. The sibling that made her life “complete.”
In fairness, I never imagined that – with 8 1/2 years between my two children – that there would ever be sibling rivalry and arguing. I imagined perfect tranquility. A home where my children enjoyed every moment together and the two – in spite of (or maybe because of) their age difference – would be inseparable. Almost eight years later, the joke is on me as much as it is on Amber.
With all of this said – and in spite of the constant bickering – I will say that it’s been fun watching my two children interact and, most especially, watching how quickly my younger one’s mind works as he comes back with zingers at his sister when she tries to put him in his place. For example, a couple of years ago, I had to instill a rule in my house that Amber and Braden could not sit on the same couch together. It was inevitably a fight waiting to happen. It might start out nicely with one on each end and the middle cushion a no-man’s land, but it always spiraled into a “She’s’ touching me!” or “He’s on my side!” or “Move your head – I can’t see!” or “Sister’s doing that on purpose!” or any number of other arguments. I finally had to put my foot down and say, “NO MORE! Braden sits on either the couch or the love seat, and Amber has to take the other. End of discussion.”
This worked for a while, but then they slowly started to push the envelope of this rule until one day I walked in to find them both sitting on the same couch.
“Move, Braden!” Amber said.
“No! I was here first!” he replied.
“No you weren’t! I was here first! I was born first, so get off the couch!”
“No you weren’t! You weren’t ‘born.’ We found you in the garbage!”
That was all it took. Now he’d made her mad and, in a huff, Amber left the living room and he won the couch by default.
As the years have progressed, the arguments and Braden’s zingers have gotten more and more creative. The other day I came into the house to see that one of my children had left two Diet Dr. Pepper cans, side by side, on the coffee table. Neither of the children are allowed to eat or drink in the living room, so it was not surprising that neither of them wanted to take credit for leaving them behind. Deep down, I was pretty sure it was Amber based upon the way it was “displayed,” but I didn’t actually see her do it so I wasn’t prepared to accuse her. Instead, I said “One of you two left these Dr. Pepper cans on my living room table. I’m going to give the culprit about 30 seconds to pick them up off the table before I come completely unglued.”
“It’s not mine!” whined Amber. “I didn’t drink Diet Dr. Pepper today!”
“It’s not mine!” screamed Braden. “Sister’s lying!”
The two went back and forth for several moments and at some point I realized that this was going to go on all day. I did what any parent does in this situation: I picked the child most likely to conform to my request to get rid of the cans, and just let it go.
“Braden,” I said. “I think it’s probably Sister’s, but would you please put the cans in the garbage for me?”
“Fine!” Braden huffed. “But it’s not mine! It’s Sister’s!” At this point he sniffs the can and then continues, “See! It even smells like Sister’s breath! Yuck!”
At this point, I’m left with only one conclusion: The person who coined the phrase, “Patience is what parents have when there are witnesses,” obviously had kids like mine!