It's the fighting.
This morning was a particularly bad morning. Daddy had barely closed the cabin door before the ruckus began. The littlest nearly always starts it with his endless tormenting of big brother. And big brother makes it way too easy for him.
All my 20 month old has to do is sing a certain song or grin in his older brother's face for the squealing to commence. That's the hardest bit to ignore.
Over the past few days big kid has developed a nails down a chalk board high-pitched squeal which he lets out full force at the slightest infringement committed by his little brother.
They can be seemingly fine seconds before AND after the squealing - that's what makes it even harder to parent. Sometimes they're playing and he'll suddenly let out that same squeal if little brother almost catches him. I don't want to intervene and ruin a good thing. I love those magical moments when between them (and only the two of them) they've created a game.
But it's true what my Dad used to say - it'll all end in tears. It nearly always does.
Even when big kid is happy being chased, he's bound to squeal eventually. Neither of them have quite worked out what is supposed to happen when the chaser gets caught. Unless momma is the catcher - then they get tickled to death!!!
No matter how hard I try to stay calm, I just can't keep my blood pressure from rising when I hear that piercing squeal. I understand he's frustrated at his little brother, but you'd think someone was peeling his finger nails off!
This morning my twenty month old was particularly feisty while they were supposed to be watching cartoons on my lap top on the bedroom floor. It didn't take him long to work out the best way to piss big brother off... he just had to start pressing buttons.
Pausing the show was like hitting the jackpot for baby boy who had his big brother wailing from the get-go. But even the lesser offence of getting a menu up was a deal breaker for big kid.
This is where it gets tricky for Momma. I'd just nursed baby girl to sleep behind them when the squealing commenced. I had to nip it in the bud quickly.
I gave them a warning, hoping for the best - but I pretty much knew I'd be dishing out the consequence in the next minute or so. I was okay with that. I wanted to turn off cartoons and get them out of there anyway.
The littlest was obviously bored but didn't want to go play without big bruv. I know - that's not really fair on big brother. But my intuition was telling me that big brother needed a break from the screen also. He wasn't 'using his words' very well - hence the squealing.
But from that point on, every toy and activity was a train wreck.
Even when I resorted to putting them in their bouncers, when he saw his chance, my eldest reached over and yanked his brother's hair - basically because he wanted him to SHUT UP!
It was just one of those days.
I worked really hard putting big-kid in time-out. Usually it only ever takes one - or the threat of one - for my eldest. But today for some reason - he'd made up his mind - and enough was enough. He wasn't going to take any more crap from his little brother.
I kind of understand it - and admire the stance (a little) but I can't allow them to resolve the issue with violence - no matter how violent his little butt-head brother is - can I? Sometimes I wonder whether if I left them in a room to fight it out would they kill each other - or would it take ONE hairy skirmish before the natural order of things was decided...
I haven't really started
The morning lasted forever, even though both boys and our girl conked out by 11:00am - and they ALL slept for THREE hours! This place was like the twilight zone - I was wringing my hands together by two o'clock not knowing what to do with myself!
I shared the morning's events on the phone with Daddy who was overly sympathetic - apologizing for my rough morning. Just doing my job Daddy - just doing my job. I didn't realized I'd signed up to be a referee though.
I was very proud of my morning's worth of parenting. Throughout all the squealing, time-outs and tousles, I'd kept my cool.
No shouting - not even a raised voice.
They must have been really tired - that's why they were so awful. I turned on the hob to make mac and cheese and braced myself for the bumpy road ahead - they'd wake up starving of course. Desperately needing to pee and starving...
I looked up as my eldest toddled in with a big smile on his face. He poured the macaroni into the pan for Momma and we were rocking and rolling!
Little kid woke up and joined his brother outside at the picnic table. In spite of their hunger they waited patiently sitting together, each holding a fork and plastic plate for 5 marvelous minutes.
I think I held my breath the whole time. I couldn't believe it. Who were these children?
They both ate oodles of my easy peasy V8 mac and cheesy, and then played together outside like best buddies.
It was like the morning had never happened.
Baby girl had nursed and was already back down napping in Momma's room. So while the boys were content, I took the opportunity to dry the dishes.
It wasn't long before I heard,
"My frog, my frog, my frog, MY frog, MY FROG MY FRAAAAAWG!"
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHH, NOOO MINE!"
Or something to that effect.
That was the straw that broke the camel's back.
I raced up our three stairs to find the boys engaged in a tug o war match over an orange rubber froggie just outside the door to where baby girl was sleeping.
"ENUFFFFFFFF!" I roared.
And I actually threw my tea-towel down angrily.
The boys looked a little stunned. Big kid let little kid have his froggie and followed me back down the stairs to the cabin.
Breathing steadily I resumed drying dishes, while big kid entertained himself on the floor. Not a minute passed before baby boy approached carrying froggie and the rest of the froggie game.
He sat down beside his big brother and asked for 'help'.
Pretending to ignore them I watched covertly from the corner of my eye.
Squealing HAPPILY they took it in turns to stomp and watch that froggie fly. Each yelling "Your turn!" to the other and "Awesome!" when a stomp was particularly 'awesome'. And when they got bored with that game they moved on to another.
My 20 month old took his toy camera over to big brother and passed it to him saying "cheese". The lilt at the end of the word told Momma it was a question. He wasn't giving it to his brother - he wanted help. I could see how this could be confusing to big brother...
But big bro was a trooper! He took the camera and held it up to his face.
"You say, 'Cheese'! And I say 'Oh, yeah!" he explained as he clicked the camera. He was teaching little bruv (and Momma apparently) how to take a picture.
They played AMAZINGLY well together for the rest of the day.
So, what's the lesson learned here Mommas?
It's okay to shout at the little f*****s once in a while!