Saturday, October 18, 2008

You Better Watch Out

As an only child, I am nearly confounded when it comes to the issue of sibling rivalry.
After all, the one childhood fight I remember having was with my BFF Kerry Williams over the pair of polyester pink-foot pajamas we both wanted to wear while playing "baby." I grabbed one foot and pulled while she yanked on the other; my mother--a veteran kindergarten teacher who could broker peace between India and Pakistan--heard the ruckous and quelled it with a "She's the guest, GIVE IT TO HER NOW..."
My husband is no help either.
Jim and his sister Jamie were inseperable as kids and to this day, if the three of us were in a sinking boat, I'm sure I'd be the one drinking sea water. (My mother-in-law--a veteran third grade teacher--reports that their lone childhood fight was over Jamie hugging Jim too much. It wasn't that he didn't adore her, my MIL asserts, it's just that too much sisterly affection embarassed him as a 12-year-old boy.)
Of course, I've read books.
(My vote for most creative title: "Siblings Without Rivalry.")
And I've called up friends to query them on their strategies.
("Oh, I don't know," sighed my very capable friend L., who has three well-adjusted, smart boys ages five and under. "Sometimes I just try to keep them on seperate floors of the house. On other days, I let them go at it until the screaming gets overwhelming or things get bloody.")
I've tried reason.
("How would it make you feel, Elizabeth, if William called you a 'Planthead?'")
Distraction--a staple in my toolbox during the toddler years--only rarely works at age four.
("Guys, look, an ice cream truck!")
I've even imparted religion.
("Would Jesus take all of his sister's Crayolas right before bedtime then feed them to his stuffed bear as string beans? I think NOT.")
But finally, I've found what seems to be a silver bullet--at least seasonally.
When my kids were squabbling earlier this week over whose turn it was to take the gummies out of the box, I spontaneoulsy laid down this gem:
"Children, Santa knows everything."
There was dead silence--and by that I mean you could hear the leaves falling up in Alaska. The kids looked at each other with shades of horror.
Will pushed the gummy box into his sister's outstretched hand.
"I've got good behavior," he said.
"Me, too!" shouted Elizabeth.
So, as it turns out, my Christmas gift came early this year. And while it might disappear on December 26, I'll have gotten a lot of mileage out of it.
In my house, you better watch better not cry...


Eudea-Mamia said...

Oh yeah baby! Bring on the Holidays.

We actually have a family tradition here, with our own personal "elf" named Jump Jump. He's been assigned to our family for over three generations, and you always know he's around when you here bells ringing. (I think my mother had them rolling around in every drawer of the house.)

I lived in fear of that noise (Pavlov's Dog, anyone?) and the quote that always followed it...

"Jump Jump's watching."

Stuck terror! And worked like a charm.


P.S. come check out my latest post - you've been Tagged sucka.

Wep said...

NICE. That should buy you about 6 more years :)

Villa said...

If worse comes to worse in sibling rivalry, there's crying. A dose of Catholic guilt works like a charm. (;

Jamie said...

I'm printing all these out and saving them in a binder labelled "Julie's Jems", so I'm prepared when Chi starts causing trouble!

Thanks for sharing!

texasholly said...

January is going to totally suck for you.

My only suggestion is to lock them in the backyard where you can't hear the screaming. Or earplugs. Either is tested here daily.