about Blogs book exercise mamalougues contact Image Map

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Welcome to Our Fight Club

I think the boys have turned our home into a fight club and I am the only one who wasn't aware of this. This past week, or more accurately past month, the boys have shown each other anything but love.
The amount of fighting that has been going on in our house would make Tyson run.  They wake up fighting, go to sleep fighting and last night when I checked in on Oscar he was having a dream about fighting.

Oscar declared that he doesn't like anyone in our family that doesn't have an "O" in their name. That cancels out his brothers and includes Don and me.

On Sundays we go to church.  This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone in the family.  However, when Sunday (the day after Saturday) arrives, this came as a complete shock to everyone.  Even though the previous evening I had clearly said "tomorrow we are going to church." But it still snuck up on the boys and caused dismay.

The fighting began bright and early when Jack had the audacity to see our elf Henry first.  Oscar had wanted to see him first so as they were yelling at each other, Finegan, who had no part in this argument,  came downstairs and joined in for solidarity.  Parker arrived and discovered that the last frozen waffle had been eaten and proclaimed that because of this, his entire day was doomed.

There is a sense of urgency because we need to arrive to church on time.  It honestly takes more time to get everyone in the car than it does to drive there.  The entire car ride is spent arguing about who had what seat last, who kicked who's seat and who farted.

Because Don is a teacher he has this magic ability to tune it all out and sing Christmas music which not only pisses them off more, but made the noise level in the car unbearable and I finally lost it. Which causes complete silence which lasts about 15 seconds.
When we arrived at church I explain that we are going into the house of God and they need to behave accordingly. Plus, my mom is in the choir loft so not only is God watching, Grandma is too.
In the short distance from the car to the pew, more fighting erupted. Who knew someone could feel so passionately about a stick of gum?
As we walked into church  they stop fighting long enough for Jack to run into an old man's walker in the aisle and knock it, along with himself over.  Which is why we can never be late because we always make a grand entrance.
Thankfully Oscar was in Sunday school which allowed us to sit stratigically boy, parent, boy, parent, boy. Even in the presence of Jesus, they find a way to fight in silence.  It could be looking at each other the wrong way or breathing in each other's direction.  As I sat in the middle of Parker and Finegan the story of Cain and Abel finally made sense. I am having a really difficult time understanding the dynamic of brothers and why they hate each other so much.  I have tried everything.

Don is of the mindset that they should be able to work it out themselves without parental involvement.  Even though his mother told me that when he and his older brother were in their teens they were fighting in the house and she sent them outside. When they got outside they were punching each other and drew a crowd of neighbors, bets were made.  Eventually they got tired and came back inside where she had ice packs waiting for them.
I do not like violence. I don't want them to resolve their issues that way but I'm afraid at some point it is going to get there.  And I'm not going to stand in the middle obviously.

I remember a scene in Silver Linings Playbook where a father and his grown son get into a fist fight and the mother is standing in-between them screaming.
This is one of my biggest fears and a fear that many Moms have.  Breaking up a physical fight among family members who have grown to be way stronger than you.

The boys seem to have inherited my short fuse.  How is it possible that we created children that look so much alike but can't stand the sight of each other?

I can't help but think that their environment is imposing discord and they lash out. Or perhaps somehow  I am imposing my personal stress onto them and they are just a reflection of that?  The boys aren't the only ones who have been fighting.  Don and I have too. About really important stuff like…who as emptied the dishwasher more times in the last three days.

At some point I have to step back, relax and thing about what is really bothering me.  The boys are not going to commit fratricide anytime soon. Claudius may have killed Hamlet,  but there was much more at stake than who got the last piece of Halloween candy.

I have a Christmas CD in the car and I keep playing "Let there be Peace on Earth, and Let it Begin with Me" and what I actually mean is you.  All of them. I can't sing it loud enough. "Let me walk with my brother, in peace and harmony"  Hopefully, sometime soon they will stop arguing long enough to hear it.

Friday, December 5, 2014

It's not black and white

I received an email from a guy who reads my blog saying that he has been waiting for my take on the events in Ferguson.  I had to double check to make sure it was sent to me, and it was.  I have been  silent on my thoughts about this because as sad as it sounds, I felt like I didn't have a place to say anything. I'm a middle class white woman in the Midwest who grew up in a somewhat sheltered and privileged upbringing. This entire issue of race doesn't directly relate to me so how can my opinion have any weight?

And then it was obvious to me, that I'm part of the problem.

It's Christmas time, I don't want to feel sad or uncomfortable. I need to finish my shopping and figure out where to put the Elf on the Shelf. How to keep my boy's belief in Santa alive with painstaking elaborate plans to send video messages to them.

What I'm really doing  is trying to avoid reality as well.  I don't want to admit to myself or to my boys that there is a serious problem in our country right now.  I know how I feel. I feel conflicted. Not on the issue as much as how the people I know feel about the issue. It is one thing to have a difference of opinion, but how can I associate with someone who believes that the action of killing someone go without some sort of punishment?

What I see, in just the hand full of cases where young men have been killed, is their mothers.
If that is all you can find in common with this situation then put yourself in her shoes. Imagine how she felt when she heard the news that her son was dead. It immediately makes it personal. As a mother I would support my child.  Regardless of what they do, I will love them.  I can say with 100% certainty that losing a child is equally painful whether your child died in an accident or was killed unlawfully. The bottom line is that this Christmas there will be one empty chair at their table and will remain empty.

Everyone should be able to agree that that is unfair.

 When my oldest son overheard me discussing it they asked what I was talking about.  I explained in the most simple terms that a young man had lost his life because he was shot. To the question of why, I admitted that I just don't know.

This isn't a black and white issue in the sense that you can offer an explanation.  I said all we can do is pray. Pray for their families.  All of them.  We can't forget that the people who shot these young men have mothers and fathers too.  Who, like me stand behind their child even if they don't agree with their actions.

All I can think to do in moving forward is teach compassion.  My boys do not see race. At least not yet. My seven year old's two best friends are black.  When I asked him to describe Aaron, he said he was about as tall as him, he likes the color green and his favorite ninja turtle is Rafael. Oh, and that he makes him laugh.  In his description, the color of his skin doesn't even come up.  He is basing their  friendship on how he makes him feel and all the things they have in common. Not the one thing they don't.

It makes me feel sorrowful that as we are approached 2015 and we still have conflict that began long before our great grandparents were born. I realize that it's just not that simple.  But I will be doing a disservice to my children if I let it continue down the line.  I want to move forward with compassion and optimism that our generation will take the responsibility to teach the next generation about equality and peace.

And I will also say a prayer for the heartbreaking number of chairs that will be empty at the Christmas dinner table.