Do your kids ever fight? Of course not, right? Your kids are perfect. You would never, for instance, awaken to the sound of three kids shrieking over who ate the last frozen waffle, first of all, because you would never buy frozen waffles in bulk much less have them fight about it. You probably arise early and craft nutritious bowls of organic homemade oatmeal for your tender young, and your children politely ask each other to please pass the raw honey and carefully drizzle it into their bowls.
We’re so the same, except it’s store brand pancake syrup and they’re screaming “GIVE IT BACK IT’S MINE STOP HOGGING IT OH MY GOSH MOMMMMMM” and I come downstairs and it’s like someone murdered Mrs. Buttersworth and she bled out all over the kitchen and I’m the CSI on the case walking around examining arterial spray to determine the killer. “See, this syrup splatter here indicates that the killer was 58 inches tall and held the butter knife at a 45 degree angle making sweeping downward strokes.”
My kids fight constantly. When other people mention that their kids fight, I always nod but inside I think, “Your kids can’t possibly fight as much as mine. Mine act like they’re auditioning for their own reality show.” I’m not sure what this says about me that I feel the need to have the fightiest kids of all the kids. (If your kids also argue incessantly to the point where you’re almost a little proud of their stamina, solidarity. Let’s meet in the chocolate aisle at the grocery store and just huddle together in absolute silence.)
I find myself trying to keep them apart just to avoid the fighting. I send them to separate parts of the house like I’m trying to figure out the seating arrangement at a wedding of cantankerous relatives. It’s just not worth the screaming. My nerves. I’m like Mrs. Bennett from Pride and Prejudice with a serious case of the vapors and they walk around whispering, “Mother keeps to her room.” Except instead of Regency England I live in modern day Atlanta and instead of fighting about what to wear to Mr. Bingley’s party my kids throw down over whether to watch Animal Planet or Teen Titans Go.
And then yesterday happened.
Yesterday, when the state of Georgia woke up to a blanket of newfallen snow (the only kind of snow in Georgia is newfallen, because as soon as the sun comes out the snow melts immediately. On a good day you have about two hours to make a snowman and get in a few good snowball fights before it’s gone and you’re back in shorts and t-shirts), my kids bundled up in whatever we could find that was remotely winter-related and they tromped out to experience a touch of winter.
Somehow that white stuff set the tone for the day and I was almost afraid to breathe for fear of wrecking their good nature and snow-induced tolerance of each other. It was like that scene from Frozen where they build a snowman before the accidental brain trauma, weird house arrest, and all the grownups die at sea. What started in the yard moved to cuddling by the fireplace, then down to the basement where they played together for whole minutes of fun. Yes, I heard the occasional fight break out—they didn’t get personality transplants after all—but I also heard laughter and camaraderie.
Maybe this experiment of a family will work after all.
These days of peace seem so rare and yet they give me the strength to carry on through the fighting, and fighting we had, today, on our way to church, as the kids once again treated our minivan like Thunderdome and we pulled into the parking lot in need of whatever the good Lord had to offer us in the way of grace and forgiveness.
Still, that one day where they got along will last me for a long time, like great sex or a night out with my girlfriends. I’ll look back on that day and let my thoughts linger on it. Remember when my three kids were in the same room for multiple minutes at a time and I heard laughing? Remember when they drank hot chocolate at the same table and someone was smiling? Boy, what a day. These are the moments you live for.
If only they didn’t have to clean up all the crap they got out, because that’s when the yelling and blame throwing really ramps up. Maybe if we had a self-cleaning house we wouldn’t have any problems. A mom can dream.