Seems to me that all my children do these days is fight. I have one boy and two girls, 6, 4 and 9 respectively and individually they are lovely little beings but put them together and it’s like lighting a touch-paper. I stand well back. Usually in the kitchen, by the fridge where there *might* be wine.
On school pick-up, I have a little game I play in my head. I make bets with myself when the first fight will occur. Before they get in the car? On the school drive? Before the second lamppost on the Frant Road? We have a 25 minute journey and much as I try to block out the noise with Radio 4 (sometimes I even resort to Heart FM hoping that One Direction will leave them speechless – it does me), the bickering is incessant.
And that’s just the drive home.
Back at home I try to make myself a cup of ‘you can do it’ tea but I am usually interrupted by a wail that can only suggest that my youngest daughter’s leg has been gnawed off by a swarm of mutant bees. Not so. Apparently her brother called her a ‘nincompoop’ and won’t let her play with his Skylanders. ‘Ah’ I say, ‘so nothing terminal then?’. He sulkily gives her ‘Wrecking Ball’ (thankfully NOTHING to do with Miley Cyrus) and she is all giggles and smiles. I return to the kitchen to find my tea stewed to the colour of treacle and feel like wailing myself.
After a couple of hours and a glass of stress-relief, I serve them their supper. Sausage, chips and peas. Not gourmet, but you can’t go wrong with that surely?
‘I don’t like chips’
‘You did last week’
“Those were thin chips. These are fat chips. I don’t like fat chips’
‘It’s all the same thing, they taste the same and won’t poison you. Eat them’
‘I don’t LIKE fat chips. I am NOT eating them.’
(my eldest daughter ‘chips’ in)
‘They’re not called thin chips, they’re called french fries (mimes ‘Dur-brain’ at him.)
‘Muuuummmmy! Emily called me a Dur-brain!’
(kicking under the table starts)
‘Muuuummmy, Emily kicked me!’
And so it continues…PLEASE tell me this is not a situation particular to me. Please, please reassure me that this is normal; a phase that passes really quickly; family life.
After supper I instruct them to go upstairs, do teeth and get their ‘jamas on. I see a fleeting look of determination pass between them as they sprint from their chairs, racing to the stairs with shouts of ‘Last one up is a smelly bum!’
‘Smelly BOTTOM, not bum’ I shout after them. I scrape up the now wailing 4 year old who is no competition for her siblings on the stair-racing front but is doggedly competitive and hates to lose (NO idea who she gets that from). As I placate her there are more shouts from upstairs as they vie for prime position at the bathroom sink and call each other all sorts of other names that I blame Tracy Beaker for.
More of the same follows until finally they are in their beds and (sort of) going to sleep. Beneath all the bickering they love each other really, which is shown in (very) small acts of kindness to each other and some lovely cuddles on the sofa when they forget they are at war.
I used to try to referee, collude and console. Now I tend to let them get on with it and hope they don’t kill each other. I just haven’t got any fight left.
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