Please listen to me like I am whispering the Holy Grail of cheats for (insert complex game I cant remember the name of here like CallofDutyBlackOpsIIClashofClansand/orSkyrim).
We hate when you argue with your brothers and sisters. Please stop it immediately, if not sooner.
Oddly enough, you insist that what I (cannot help but) hear is not arguing, rather you are “sorting out differences using all of your options.” While I find that funny (and smart), it irritates me nonetheless. However, when you argue with me about you not arguing with them, I really start losing faith (along with my mind).
Because while you are “sorting out your differences,” I know that how you engage in conflict now with your siblings is a predictor of how you will engage in conflict at work with your (likely short lived) colleagues.
The image of you giving your cubicle mate a nuggie or atomic wedgie to says to me- screams even- that you will be living at home with us for the rest of our lives, and I will always have dog crap tracked in from the yard and bag after bag gaping open at me after you took out the 87 slices it takes for you to make a sandwich between breakfast and brunch.
This may sound like it is all about me, and a quick reminder of the fact that this is my blog. Feel free to write your own, and no you cannot borrow my pen because I know I will never see it again unless I find its contents staining my entire load of laundry after you washed it, (again unnecessarily) in hot water.
Someday, your parents would like to enjoy one another’s company alone in our un-smelly home, sharing a glass of wine after work and chatting about our days and how much we miss you, without hearing you wrestling, poking, nudging, pushing, picking at and shove-arguing one another in the background. When you argue with one another, we lose hope that this glorious day will ever come. We fear we will be dragging your behind out of bed to make the bus on time forever. We cringe at the thought of endless dishes in the sink that mysteriously appear there, without a soul admitting to their use.
Let’s review the strategies I have tried over the years to get you to stop arguing with each other.
1. Get Involved, Try to Help: Bad plan, no good outcomes.
2. Mandatory Hugs All Around: This seemed to stifle the arguments for a time when you were little, but then even those decompensated into barely detected pinches, stomps and twists. It seems you are incapable of not shoving, prodding or jabbing one another when you are within a certain proximity (averaging about 3 zipcodes in radius or less). There were the years you had me convinced that you were ‘not fighting’ but having fun, or ‘just acting like brothers.’ I bought that for a while until that unfortunately incident where we had to get Josh’s ear sewn back onto his very head. Then there was the time you explained to me how it was my fault that things escalated, “we were fine until you intervened” (the strategic use of my language was impressive). That worked well NEVER (refer to earlier ear incident).
3. Reproductive Protocol Response: This one’s a homer (so to speak), and worked as recently as tonight at the dinner table. Whenever you are arguing, I raise my voice above yours and begin a recitation of the human reproductive cycle in my best Julia Child voice, starting with the time honored menstrual cycle. (“On the 14th day of the monthly cycle…”) This immediately (if not sooner) results in a horrified, yet welcome silence. I do not understand why it works, but I really don’t care as long as it brings an end to the arguing.
Here’s the truth, kids. Yes, we get tired of listening to your endless squabbling, and we lose hope of a future where you are fully functioning members of society and we are off drinking umbrella drinks by the pool, but that’s not all of it. We want what every parent wants, and what you will someday want also: to know our children will be fine after we leave this life, and that the family we have all worked to build from love, will be intact. That you will be there for one another, and have each other’s backs. That you will be friends to one another, and raise your families together, and be there in times of hardship, and joy. Our hope, our prayer, is that the best parts of our big family live beyond us, so that that love we feel for you touches the hearts, and homes and lives of generations to come. We pray that the mark of what we created from love, brings you all the joy it has brought us.
So, please stop arguing.
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Remember: Lower the bar, and drop the guilt (today).
This blog was originally published by the Times Union and can be accessed here.