Ahh, as it is in the life of brothers. Well, at least when it comes to the brothers that I brought into the world.
Now mind you, I didn’t grow up with brothers. Just sisters. And we sisters NEVER fought.
(Sorry, Middle Sis and Little Sis, if that last statement just caused you to spit your chai latte all over your keyboard.)
Okay, so the truth is, we fought a little. But it was never my fault.
(Sorry, Middle Sis and Little Sis, if that last statement just caused all those feelings you thought you’d “dealt with” in therapy to resurface. Just send me the bill for your follow-up sessions.)
Okay, so the TRUE truth is, I picked, or caused by my lack of regard for anyone but myself, more than a few fights with my sisters growing up. I distinctly remember steering the white 1976 Cordoba (with robins’ egg blue pleather interior, mind you!) with my left hand, while successfully punching my middle sister with my right hand. On a gravel road. Going at least 65 mph, I’m sure.
And I’m pretty sure it was all my fault.
But I swear, we didn’t fight NEARLY as much as my sons do. And when we fought, we fought about things that were IMPORTANT, like whose turn it was to feed the cats (not a job to be taken lightly, or without full-body armor), who got to keep the Billy Squier “Stroke Me” cassette tape that was accidentally left in the floor model stereo my dad brought home from Pamida or who borrowed whose shaker knit sweater and then just left it in a heap on the floor (Yeah, that was probably me too). You know, stuff that MATTERED.
My boys, however, fight constantly. Sometimes I even convince myself that they’ve formed some secret alliance to drive Mom crazy by purposefully picking fights about anything and everything they can think of. And it’s totally working.
Last night I snuck out for a few hours after Husband got home so I could get some work done without distractions. Of course I went where any sane person goes for a little peace and quiet — the casino. Okay, I actually went to the lobby of the casino hotel, which is the only place in town I have found where I can get free wi-fi any time of day, so it wasn’t exactly loud. But I think even the dinging and ringing of the slot machines would’ve been preferable to the chaos at my house!
After I got home, I noticed that Boy #3 was asleep on the couch. Asking Husband why he wasn’t sleeping in his bed, he replied that Boy #3 wouldn’t stop talking when Boy #2 was trying to sleep, so Boy #2 punched him in the chest, causing Boy #3 then to think he couldn’t breathe. “I think he moved my spine!” Boy #3 informed me this morning.
Ahh, just another day at the office.
This morning before school, then, they were getting along fine, but it soon turned ugly when they got into a heated argument about — what else? — whether or not milking machines hurt cows. Why they were even discussing this is beyond me and frankly makes my head hurt just trying to think about. But it was a voice-escalating, finger-pointing, insult-hurling brawl. And I think the big loser in all of it wasn’t either one of them, but the one who was trapped in the van with them, me. And maybe the cows.
After this argument was quelled and I got them to “agree to disagree” until we can look it up somewhere or ask a dairy farmer, things turned ugly again, this time over that controversial topic that often pits neighbor against neighbor: fact families. Yes, as in arithmetic. Boy #3 was yelling, “FACT FAMILIES ALL HAVE TO HAVE THE SAME SUM!!!” and Boy #2 was countering, “NO THEY DON’T! JUST LOOK AT 2×3=6 and 6/2=3! THOSE ARE FACT FAMILIES AND DO THEY HAVE THE SAME SUM? HUH? HUH?!?!”
And all of a sudden I was in the middle of it as they were both yelling, “MOM? WHICH ONES ARE FACT FAMILIES? WHICH ONES?!” Of course, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what in the heck the definition for a fact family was, so I did what being married to a math teacher gives me the right to do. I told them to ask their dad. (I am knocking women’s lib out of the park when I do this, I know. “Boys, you know mommies don’t do math.” But frankly, when they’re both yelling and my head is pounding, I don’t really much care what Gloria Steinem would think.)
I’ve known parents who have said, “My boys get along so well! They are best friends!” And to them I reply, “So do mine!”
When they’re not trying to kill each other, that is.