Today is Mother’s Day in Australia, the day when Mums of young kids get a sleep in, cremated toast, luke warm tea or coffee and loads of hugs and kisses from overly excited little people, who will thrust drawings of stick people with triangle bodies and four fingers at them.
Those with teenagers may hope to get grunted at less frequently today, be eyeball rolled only a dozen times, sneered at with reduced lip curl and told that they suck only once. I don’t have a teenager yet, but I’ve been told that this is the teenage version of affection towards a parent.
Mums of adults who are parents themselves may receive the recognition they have worked so hard for – a simple, but heartfelt, Thank you Mum.
I have asked my four boys for one thing today – that there be no fighting between them at all – all day! Not one push or shove, not one snarl or growl, not one evil eye or scowly face. No dobbing, no picking on, ganging up against, teasing, pinching, flicking, snapping, rolling of eyeballs, displays of frustration or anger, tanties, or whinging.
Now what are the chances of that happening?
And the reason I have asked for this seemingly enormous gift?
Firstly, because I usually ask for a bottle of Cointreau or Midori when it comes to any form of present. Seeing as it was my birthday less than a month ago, I am concerned that my boys will think Mummy is a drunken lush if I score another bottle. (I must clarify that the Cointreau from my birthday is still 75% full. Mummy is neither a drunk nor a lush, much to Daddy’s disappointment.)
Secondly, I want them to see just how lovely an entire day of not being told off for fighting, not being sent to their room for hitting or karate kicking, and not being nagged to death by a frustrated and slightly insane mother can be.
Just imagine – an entire day where no one gets in trouble! Heaven.
But you should have seen the look on their faces when I made my request. The older ones did the maths – up at 7.30ish and to bed at 7.30pm, that’s 12 whole hours of not fighting. Twelve hours!
Their eyeballs sunk backwards into their heads in shock, their complexion paled, and the hinges on their jaws slackened like a ten year old bra strap.
“But…what are we going to do then?” one of them asked.
“Indeed! What are you going to do?” I replied.
Silence. Four little faces staring back at me with vacuous expressions, clearly at a loss as to how they would fill in their day if it didn’t involve arguing or fighting.
“How about we watch a movie, without fighting over which one it will be, or play a board game, without anyone getting cranky about losing or missing a turn, or even go to the park, without anyone getting stroppy because someone is riding a bike faster than them,” I suggested.
Blank stares from eight eyeballs – 4 brown, 4 blue, all framed with luxuriously long eyelashes. (why do the boys always get the beautiful eyelashes?)
Holy crap! What have I done? I’ve asked for the impossible!
They can’t even go to the toilet without fighting. Of the 3 toilets in the house, only 1 is used by any of them. It’s the favourite loo. There’s a major meltdown if two kids need to pooh at the same time. We have to try to schedule crap o’clock so that everyone is accommodated and happy.
The 2 older boys have electric toothbrushes that are timed to run for 2 minutes and they always synchronise their start times. One gets upset if the other’s toothbrush cuts out before his does, even though it is outside of either boy’s control.
I mean, come on! Must you argue and fight about everything?
And the answer to this is….yes, probably.
Siblings arguing is how the pecking order is established, challenged, altered and maintained. It is where they learn (slowly) to put their thoughts forward and to listen to those of others as they gain a new perspective. It is how they evolve into small adults who are confident enough in themselves and their ability to communicate effectively, to go out into the big, wide world and function as well informed, social humans.
So, what can I take away from this? If I’m smart, I’ll realise that siblings arguing is a necessary part of their development, and even though it drives me nuts at times, as long as they are exercising their mouths (in a polite way) and not their fists, I can be sure that they are learning how to settle their differences with each other, and live in a world that encourages many different points of view from which they can broaden their own horizons.
If not, I might empty that bottle of Cointreau a bit quicker!
Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful women who choose the love of your children over your own sanity! You rock – and don’t ever forget it or let anyone tell you otherwise.