Sometimes I feel sorry for my wife. She has to parent three boys without the benefit of having ever been a boy herself. Nor did she ever get any practice suffering the slings and arrows of mean brothers.
I, on the other hand, was a boy for a very long time before growing into a husband. Altogether, I can demonstrate a long history of childishness. Also beneficial to my standing as a parent of boys is my wealth of experiences with mean brothers. I had mean brothers coming down from the hills to insure that all the days of my youth were peppered with toil and trouble. They became tolerable adults, but as a youngster, it was hard to have any kind of parade not rained upon by the mob. I may even have sprinkled on somebody’s festivities myself, but this was only in self-defense, or at worst, retaliation.
My wife has little patience for the boys’ foolish fights. Though I find their fights annoying, I am less inclined to intercede. Foolishness and fighting are two of the load-bearing beams underneath boyhood. The third pillar is grime, but we’ll leave that one alone for now. The point is, brothers are going to fight, and yelling at them about it seems to only make them fight louder.
When our boys fight, I try to replace the instinctive scolding with a few philosophical words of advice, once the battle has run its course.
Last Saturday, I was upstairs when the quiet of the house was interrupted by crying from downstairs. It wasn’t the usual child’s cry; it was the sweet harmony of two children crying together, each attempting to reach higher octaves and greater decibels than the other. It was the telltale sound of a war that had ended badly for both sides.
When my leisurely pace brought me downstairs, I found two children sitting on the floor opposite each other. The larger one was holding his lip. The smaller rubbed his arm. When they saw me, Big Brother interrupted his bawling to tell me Buster had socked him in the mouth. Buster didn’t waste any words. He looked at his victimized arm and pointed at Big Brother. Between them lay the random toy that had caused the strife.
Both wanted me to punish the other for his unjust aggression. I reached down between them, opened my hand, and picked up the toy. As I walked away with the trophy, I shook my head. “Doesn’t look like violence was the answer today, does it?” I said as I carried the spoils of war into the next room.
The crying ended as soon as I left. Both lip and arm healed up fast. They returned to play, and peace reigned for upwards of five minutes.
The era of good feelings was nice and I enjoyed it. Afterwards, they fought again. I yelled at them that time, because, in spite of my own boyhood and brothers, I only have so many words of wisdom to go around.
I have a boy and a girl– is this why they are so good at leaving both physical and emotional scars upon each other?
Boys are really good with the physical scars. Emotional scars must be more of a girl thing. Or maybe we’re just not emotionally mature enough for scars to take hold.
Did you at least play with that prize toy?
As usual, the cause of the conflict was a toy not worth playing with, much less fighting over.
Well, I’m impressed at your first reaction and I recognize your second one so I think you’re probably breaking even at this point.
Breaking even has always been my goal as a parent.
How nice for you! My son and daughter ( 11 and 9 ) are stubborn. I wouldn’t have heard the end of it for 2 hours!
Why would you listen to it for two hours?
my daughter will whine and cry because she is stubborn for that long.
Ah good ole’ sibling rivalry….nope there is nothing good about it! I hate being a judge, so I usually get busy with something and hope the wife will sort it out.
When I am the judge, both litigants lose. Some day they will learn something from this.
In our case, the wife normally lose.
She needs some backup.
I shall inform Dude and Princess accordingly.
You rule with an iron fist!
It’s more like hollow plastic, but yeah.
I have grown quite a tolerance for boy shenanigans. It took years to get worn down to this point. You might not want to mention this phenomenon to your wife 😉
She’s a work in progress. The weathering of boys is a slow and steady process.
Somehow makes me better. Don’t tell my men that I said that 😉
Your secret is safe with me.