Lucy and Henry.
I may never figure those two out.
They bicker. They fight. They argue. They whine. They cry. They never ever ever stop.
It is constant. CONSTANT.
Within seconds of waking up in the morning.
Before he’s even made it fully through the door after school.
Always and forever bickering.
they absolutely ADORE one another. Ridiculous, head over heels in love with each other.
Like, cannot breathe without the other nearby.
The macaroni to his cheese. The Bonnie to his Clyde.
But the fighting! I may lose my cotton pickin’ mind.
What do they fight about?
One day, I sat in the same room and took notes. For real. On a notepad. Of every single squabble. What it was about. What happened. I wanted to know what on earth they were specifically fighting over.
It was basically the same argument over and over and over ad nauseum…what to play, how to play it, who got to go first, someone wasn’t playing it the right way, he wanted to play this, she wanted to play that, it wasn’t her turn yet…whatever.
Generally speaking, it was lots of yelling and arguing and whining and crying.
But…they weren’t ever really mean to one another. And they never hit each other. (Not that this has NEVER happened, but generally their arguments don’t turn physical…just whining and arguing that will make any mom’s ears bleed.) This little discovery made my mama heart feel better. They bickered and complained but they weren’t really mean spirited or cruel. Small victories, right?
And here’s my discovery…I think it really boils down to this:
They both want to be Alpha Dog and neither one is about to back down.
Neither of them is the passive one. Neither of them will acquiesce. No one is going to just Go With The Flow. They both want to be in charge. That’s it. That’s all.
It’s shockingly simple, really.
If you threaten to separate them? They literally clutch one another and beg for forgiveness. Like a classic scene from a horror movie where the couple is about to be killed. It’s like I’m Freddy Kruger. In yoga pants.
They are best friends…that haven’t quite figured out the how to be friends part.
“Is Henry home from school yet? When will he be home????”
“When is Lucy waking up from her nap? Can I go wake her up?”
“Is Lucy coming with me to Aunt Shelley’s house?…Aw, no fair! I want her to come too!”
“Can I buy Henry a Popsicle too?”
The other day Lucy did something rude, I can’t even remember what it was, but I started to send her to a timeout and Henry literally jumped in front of her “No! Mom! It’s okay. I’m okay. It’s not a big deal. Don’t send her to timeout. We’ll solve our problem!”
My latest strategy is working!
Lately, the minute I hear bickering: “Solve your problem or I’m going to solve it for you! And you won’t like how I solve it!”
When the Mama has to solve their problem? Usually results in toys being tossed into the trash can. Like, for real. Never to be returned again.
Or they lose the iPad for the day (that doesn’t go in the trash. Because I mean, it’s an iPad). Or something.
When mom has to solve your problem for you, the solution is swift, immediate, and painful.
These days, I find myself yelling “Solve your problem!” All the live long day. I’ve even started singing it. Like a character in a Disney movie…”Solve Your Problem!” as I sweep. ”Solve Your Problem!” as I walk by. A little twirl for pizzazz even.
But…it’s mostly working. Which is good because I’ve thrown away a lot of money in toys lately and that’s kind of annoying. (In case you’re wondering, I have previously just taken the toys away for a time, but that didn’t seem to work because they knew they’d eventually get them back and just move on to the next thing. Kids are obnoxiously smart.)
The flip side of this is that I want so desperately for my children to have beautiful hearts.
I think, if I boiled everything away…all the excess…all the specifics of manners and behavior and all those other things we want for our children…at the end of the day I want them to love God and have beautiful hearts (which really, is one and the same don’t you think?).
So I worry about all this bickering. A lot. How is your little heart condition when all you do is FIGHT?
And then, they clutch each other in fear that they will have to spend one moment apart…
And then they hold hands when they are somewhere Big…
They do it without even realizing.
The big brother protecting his sister. He keeps an eye out. When other kids approach her, he scoots up real close…making sure the others know he’s watching. He’s there. Barely a head taller, but out in the big world, away from home, he is the Big Brother. And he plays the part. Naturally. Perfectly.
I try to sneak a picture whenever I see it. Because sometimes I need the reminder that yes, they do love each other. And maybe, just maybe, their little hearts are being wired and molded into beauty…even with all the crazy squabbling.
And then…and THEN…Henry teaches his sister to ride a bike without training wheels.
Like, for reals.
The mom a few houses down and I take unofficial turns keeping an eye on the kids as they play in the cul de sac. Last week, Henry came bounding in the door: “Mom! Come! I taught Lucy to ride her bike without training wheels!”
Mind you, Andy and I have tried many times to no avail.
I watched with tears in my eyes, as he ever so patiently held the bike steady as she climbed up.
Gave her a chance to get settled…
She may be two years younger, but I’m often asked if THEY are the twins.
I cannot explain to you how patient he was with her. One hundred times more patient than I’ve ever been trying to teach her.
Mental note: Henry is teaching Lucy to drive a car. I can’t. I just can’t. I’m totally gonna be that crazy mom in the passenger seat slamming my pretend brake and gasping at every turn.
Henry, it’s all you dude.
A push…holding her steady…
Running alongside her for a little extra support…
And voila! She’s rocking her bike.
Her 6 year old brother taught her.
Not her mom. Not her dad.
But her favorite person in the whole wide world.
I think it’ll all work out alright in the end.
Maybe just a few more toys in the trash.
Best friends. Still figuring out the friends part. I like that.
Do your kids bicker? What do they fight about? How do you deal with it?