Oh, gentle readers, winds of change are blowing through Chez Naptime. The chaos and the panic and the frustrations are lately vacillating toward harmony.
Not quite sure when it started. This summer was an intense sibling phase of aggression, retaliation, and nastiness. Neither child seemed to have simultaneous good moods, and without fail the grouchy one would turn the other into a screaming jackass within a few minutes of waking. I cannot articulate the stress caused when one child intentionally hurts his brother just to stop morning cheerfulness that he did not share. My days began at least six days a week with children screaming and crying by 6:30. Screaming the rage of being injured for being happy. Sobbing with the broken heart of being thwarted. And the other guy crying because his brother dared enter his Lair of Grump. Beginning before 6:30 and continuing for 13 hours.
I often wondered if it would ever change. If I was doing something wrong. If my readers lied to me that the boys would eventually play together. Heaven knows they mostly fester and erupt together. Blech.
A few days of early Fall showed promise. Their good moods coincided and they treated each other with care and gentleness. They talked, they negotiated. They acted as though they were on the same team.
But those days were still rare. Once a week, perhaps, mornings started well and the boys sided with rather than against each other. For a few hours in some cases.
And lately it happens more often than not. Good moods all around. Or, even better, a cheerful brother persuades a grump to his side of happiness and play.
Yesterday, walking home from school, the little one wanted to roll his softball down the sidewalk. I balked, saying that rolling into the street was going to be too frequent.
But Peanut, my increasingly personable six-year-old, offered a solution: he would run ahead and block the ball from going into the street. A lovely offer. I figured, based on two years of experience with their dynamics, that he was going to use the opportunity to take the ball for himself. But he didn’t. He didn’t take the ball or play keep away or tease or race the little guy. He played shepherd. He played backup, helper, and understudy instead of domineering and impatient first string.
So for a mile, the two-year-old rolled the ball down the sidewalk and his brother helped him. When the little guy screamed in desperation because his brother had picked the ball up, Peanut explained when he was doing and offered to hand the ball over or to roll it to Butter. The older guy was cheerful. He was patient. Butter quickly caught on that he was getting to play with the best side of Peanut, the side that only six- and seven-year-olds get to see.
It was an absolute joy to be with them. To watch them play, to help navigate only rarely. To see how kind they were and how much fun they could have together. To watch the beaming faces of passersby who caught the boys’ infectious laughs.
I want to cry at how lovely it is when they get along, and I know the tears stem from released tension at not having my shoulders up around my ears for 13 hours a day. What a relief to see them both at their happiest. To observe them bringing each other to higher levels instead of trying (often in vain) to gently interrupt their knocking each other down.
Sleeplessness seems less painful. Messes seem less important. Frustrations seem less debilitating. Anger seems a distant memory.
Because they’re being kind. My children are being kind. To each other. Consistently. For the first time in two years.
Thank you, Universe, for this interlude. I know it will shift and change. I know there will be setbacks. I know Age Three will nigh on kill us all.
And now I know how good things can be.
I had no idea. Parents who aren’t stabby by breakfast every single day, I now see that you’re not crazy.
I’m even rebranding our annual Holiday Apathy Gathering as an annual Low Expectations Holiday Party. (Crud, I have to get on planning that and inviting people…) Because I have no meh left. My inner Eeyore is on vacation and my heretofore secret Tigger is on the prowl.
So watch out. I might just pounce holiday joy and effervescence on ya. I have to. I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.
You’re like me: I’ll take the joy where I can get it.
It’s these blessings, these pieces of heaven on earth, that pull me through.
I know there will never be a period where all will be smooth sailing always–after all, I have teenagers and some days threaten to undo me–but the days where they ask for a 3rd plateful of my stroganoff, or put their arm around me and say “I can’t wait till you’re old, mama, so I can take care of you” help me make it through the darkest of days.
Glad you’re getting rays of sunshine your way.
Mmmmm…stroganoff. I’ll have more, too! ;-)
Fantastic! It’s amazing the details that were left out of the Joy of Parenting and the feel good family movies we believed in pre-children. In my house we coasted through to the teenage years and then the proverbial shit hit the fan. I always thought I was lucky to have boys but hormones turned my sweet happy boy into a sullen, angry pain in the ass. Luckily there are more moments of sunshine than storm clouds but what epic storms they are. Fingers crossed for you that you have survived your trials and that it will be smoother sailing here on out. Fingers crossed for me that son number two takes to his estrogen pills nicely. Kidding!
THIS. “Luckily there are more moments of sunshine than storm clouds but what epic storms they are.”
I have no illusions that we’re done with the testosteroni clusterf$*& that is life with two boys. But I’m really glad those clouds parted for a few days.
Sorry ’bout your teenager. I have one who started out as a surly teenager, so I’m hoping he’ll at least stay the same?
Good luck to both of us then!
It is so lovely. I get weepy about it too. I can’t imagine consenting to that ball rolling thing. You are a saint.
Yeah, walking with two Tazmanian devils caused me undue stress. I’m just so worried. Cars pull out of driveways, trucks pull into driveways, pinecones fall willy nilly. Add a softball rolling down the street, controlled only by a six year old and you get full panic attack.
Proof that them getting along is rare and glorious is the fact that I wasn’t hyperventilating a couple of blocks into the trip home.
I loved these line “He played shepherd. He played backup, helper, and understudy instead of domineering and impatient first string.” I know that sense of relief nigh on euphoria.
Isn’t it heaven?