Alls well that ends well. I think.

Act I
Interior, Boys’ bedroom. Bedtime.

Peanut notices Butter is happily cuddling a little green bear. The bear he gave his younger brother months ago. The bear he said he was done with and didn’t like. The bear that represents one of only two things he’s ever given Butter to keep.

“Why does he have that? I want it.”

I’m going to spare you the details of the next ten minutes. Suffice it to say it was a ping pong match of screaming versus calm. He wanted it back. I am not going to take a bear from a happy baby. Ill-gotten gains would be a different discussion. But the 5 year old GAVE the bear to the toddler.

Peanut bellowed and writhed for 10 minutes. And he refused to calm down, to lie down, or to stop screaming. I sat next to Butter’s crib, reading a book. (Most nights I nurse the wee one, and put him to bed awake. I leave the room. If he cries I come back, tell him to lie down, fix his blanket, and leave again. After four tries, if he won’t settle, I sit in the rocker and read until he’s asleep. I might actually read a whole book this year.)

I told Peanut I would talk with him when he was prone and quiet. He refused. I had lots of tricks up my sleeve: the other green bear on Peanut’s bed, the idea of taking this green bear back tomorrow, the possibility of a trade for the orange monster Butter has never liked, and the piggy bank just itching for a new bear purchase. I get to use none of my masterful techniques because my child’s stubbornness rivals my own.

He’s actually quite hilarious, and I had to fight not to laugh. First he walked circles around the room for ten minutes while I ignored him. Clearly tired, he finally sat down on his bed. But he refused to lie down.
And he told me so.
And he stared at me, fuming, sitting on his bed, for another ten minutes.

It took half an hour before I told him he could have the bear back in the morning.

Act II
Interior, morning, days later

I wake to the sound of Peanut mimicking Butter’s morning sounds. They banter in toddlerese for a while, then Peanut reads (from memory) and embellishes (from his awesome cache of storybook rhythms) Butter’s favorite book. I go in when Butter gets frustrated because he can’t get out of his bed.

His bed that now contains the forbidden green bear. I casually ask Peanut what they’ve been doing and he tells me, “I brought Butter the bear and told him he can cuddle it for a little while, but that I’d like it back later.”

Fair enough.

Act III
Interior, afternoon, days later

I’ve fallen asleep nursing Butter before his nap. Peanut sneaks into the room and softly talks to me. His whispers are a change from moments before, when he was begging for a movie, cursing my name, and threatening not to eat ever again if he couldn’t have pudding for lunch.

P: Do you want me to pull the curtains?
M: Hmmm? What? Oh, that would be nice. Thank you.
P: [he closes the curtains] Is that enough?
M: Yes. That was such a huge help. Thank you.

He gets the magical bear from his bed.

P: Which way will his head be when he gets in bed?
M: That side.
P: I’ll put this in the middle so he sees it no matter which way he sleeps.
M: That is so friendly, P. What a great idea.

What!? Who is this model citizen? This is the kid I met years ago and haven’t seen since he started preschool. This kid standing before me has been missing for two years. Is it possible he’s shaking his Threes and Fours just in time to leave our sphere of influence and enter the terrifyingly unsheltered, unprotected, unsavory world of public school?

Cool!

Act IV
Interior, bedtime, same day

The boys rush into their bedroom after bath, screeching and laughing. B sees his crib and points. He wants the green bear. P sees me give it to him and seems fine. B holds the bear, kisses the bear, drags the bear around during the bedtime ritual. And as he nurses he bangs me in the face with the mangy little thing. Repeatedly.

Peanut laughs. A lot.

And I’m guessing Butter can keep the bear now. Because he has helped Peanut turn the nauseating little urchin into a partner in crime, used first in a petty war but now as a weapon against the arch-nemesis Mama. Forget rivalries. They’ve moved onto the bigger picture: their lifelong rebellion against the Forces of Rules and Expectations.

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14 thoughts on “Alls well that ends well. I think.

  1. What an awesome story. Despite the fact that they may be teaming up against you, I sure hope they become good friends. My boys FINALLY like playing together, and i hope they do become good friends. Hubby got fixed, so they aren’t getting another shot at sibling buddies.

  2. I want the green bear!!! ;)

    I remember the first time the boys joined forces and I was The Mom. It surprised me, then delighted me, then scared me, as I realized what the future might look like…

  3. My brother and I fought over IDENTICAL E.T. dolls. We each had one. The same exact thing. Two of them. I remembered this little tidbit when I was about to suggest getting another green bear. The problem was that when he left his somewhere, he swore up and down the stairs to hell that MINE was HIS or that I took HIS. I won’t suggest another green bear. I’ve been there.

  4. Oh how it pains me when I finally realize that my boys are laughing hysterically in the corner because they’ve conspired to get me again… No one writes parenting books about this stuff!

  5. @Karyn you and me both.

    @Fie mazel tov. On the getting along and on the getting fixed.

    @Kitch oh, if it were that easy, they wouldn’t do it that way. Peanut is going to be the most awesome grownup ever. And the withered shell of my sanity will be there as his candy dish.

    @Ink I didn’t think much of the bear until Butter loved it. And Peanut wanted it back. And they bonded around it. Now I want to cuddle it to get some of its magic.

    @jc I learned from the twins in our family that duplicates always have to be slightly different. Sorry about your E.T. That’s a painful way to learn about dirty dealing. Damned brothers.

    @Heather No, but that’s because they’re breathing a sigh of relief that the incessant bickering is tempered. ;-)

  6. peanut and my r are the same exact age. if they ever get together the world will either; a, be an awesome utopia or b, be a huge fireball with 2 cackling geniuses in a spaceship. i’m hoping, for our sacrificed career paths and sanity, it’s not the latter. on a sociology level it interests me to no end the similarities in our parenting and our independent, rebellious, question factory, awesome offspring. is it us or them? is there really a “new awareness coming down to earth” cosmic. non sequitur-ly: agreed, the awesome kid showing up right before public school kindergarten and the wanting to gauge my eyes out on the writing style of faber and mazlish, we’ll make it through this and we’ll most likely meet when we have seats right next to each other, in the awesome mom section at the nobel peace prize awards…

  7. @letmestart That’s on their business cards.
    @tara Indeed. Except the seating at the Nobel award ceremony. I’m totally going to be in the World’s Champion Relaxer section by then. Want to join me? ;-)

  8. Awesome kid always shows up when I have internally conceded defeat. If you think that you have left the spectrum of the incessant fighting, I am sorry to tell you that you had better invest in some SERIOUS earplugs. There is no need to lose your hearing along with your mind.

    Perhaps I am just saying that because the noise of my three boys is beyond any fancy Dolby Surround sound at the movie theater (which I so miss).

    Of course, you are right. The constant potting against the parental establishment has just scored an important victory. They will either spend their days fighting each other, or fighting you. The earplugs will come in handy. Trust me.

  9. I am seriously behind in my blog reading, so I just read this.It was awesome. Except that now I don’t want any more children. So thanks for that.

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