Damara Hutchins

Sibling rivalry heating up the house

Damara Hutchins

I have a framed picture in the office of my son when he was 5 years old giving his newborn sister a kiss on her head. It is so precious. Even though he was somewhat disappointed she wasn't a baby brother, he still loved her.

Fast-forward to the present day when all these kids do is bicker and yell at each other. I cling to that one memory as much as I can and try to convince myself they will love each other again. The funny thing is they can't deny each other. If my husband and I had 10 kids, they'd look like male and female versions of one another.

My daughter's least favorite activity is interrupting about 30 minutes of her day to pick up her brother and his friend from basketball practice.

"Why do we have to pick them up? Can't they both just walk home? They smell SO bad! I want my window down. Seriously, Mom, I don't like this!"

Yes, we go through the same thing every day. She airs her grievances and I tell her it doesn't matter how she feels because I am not going to abandon her brother at the school. I agree, teen boys do smell bad after they have been sweating for several hours, but the air freshener I bought for the car helps a lot. The bottom line is always this: suck it up! She is stuck with me and it is past time she got used to this routine.

As soon as the boys get in the car, she takes it upon herself to fire word barbs at her brother. Anything he says, she takes the contrary side. If he makes a statement, she'll claim, "He's lying. He's a liar. Don't believe him."

He gets tired of it and I don't blame him, but he isn't always nice to her either. I told him to try to lead by example. If he is nice to her, she'll be nicer to him. This has failed miserably.

The other day, she gave him a derogatory nickname that I immediately told her to never use again. He was angry she had the nerve to call him those words in the first place. He said, "You know, I'll call you a mean name and it will make you cry. How would you like that?"

He always underestimates her ability to be as stubborn as she is. "Whatever. I wouldn't care. You can call me any name and it wouldn't bother me at all."

He threatened her with bodily harm.

She said, "Well, I'll just shred a bunch of paper and throw it in your face after I put my boogers on it."

"ENOUGH!" I shouted. "Both of you stop being so mean. No one is throwing booger paper at anyone and no one is going to hit anyone. Why can't you two get along? Just stop talking to each other."

Right before Christmas, she asked to go outside at night and watch him shoot some hoops in our driveway. I told him to keep an eye on her.

I watched through the blinds as he lowered the net to her level and then he spent about 30 minutes teaching her how to get the ball in the basket from different angles. They were like two different kids out there smiling and laughing.

She ran inside, "Mommy! I made five baskets!"

Times like that give me hope. Maybe, just maybe, they do love each other after all.