Warfare

Mia

There is a new word in our house and that word is warfare.
That white noise when both of my children fight and bicker and ‘he said/she said’ and generally make my head explode.
Because just lately my kids fight. All the time.
I know it’s something we shouldn’t talk about as parents. Because, well, we want to airbrush it out of our family history. If we pretend it’s not happening then we can paint the picture that everything is harmonious and blissful.
But it’s not. The rowing hasย slowly crept up on us.ย And sometimes I absolutely despair. The ‘yes buts’, the ‘but he/she said’, the not talking to one another, the ‘she hit me first’.

I hear the rumblings of it start in another room and I raise my eyes to the ceiling and pray for something, anything to take the white noise away. Bickering. Nit picking. ‘I’m never playing with you ever again’.
Urgh.

These are two kids who were inseparable. Did everything together. But age has crept in. Dan has become more intolerant of Mia’s annoying little habits like coming into his room and fiddling with his stuff. He hates it with a passion and she knows it, and works it.
She hates when he won’t listen to her because she does ramble on and on and on. But he’s the person she wants to share things with the most.

It reaches it’s pinnacle whenever Dan has one of his friends over to play.
Sibling rivalry at fever pitch.

“MUUUUUM. Can you tell Mia to stop showing off.”
“MUUUUUM. Mia’s ruining everything.”
“MUUUUUM. Mia’s annoying us.”

Which is followed by
“MUUUUUM. Dan is being mean to me.”
“MUUUUUM. They’ve put a chair against the living room door so I can’t get in.”
“MUUUUUM. I just want to join in.”

And join in she will. I’ve pulled her from the bottom on a wrestling pile only to be reprimanded because she’s enjoying herself and I’m ruining their fun.
My tomboy who has grown up surrounded by older boys all willing to let her join in with their games (sometimes) as long as she is happy to fight/play/behave like they do.
And she will do it if it means she gets to spend time with them. With her brother.

We’ve never had this before. They’ve always played beautifully. They still do much of the time to be honest.ย But right now the fighting is driving me insane because when it surfaces it’s so intense.

And then I stumble on them like this. Curled up on the sofa investigating something together, or creating something, or solving something. And I hope and pray there is still hope and that this is just another one of those phases we go through.

IMG_3931

*Thanks to Muddy No Sugar for the lovely photo of my daughter at the top of the page.

 

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22 Responses to Warfare

  1. Franglaise Mummy says:

    This sounds so familiar. I’m one of five and warfare like this went on in our house for years. It will pass… but maybe not until they hit 16-18. Sorry ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Spencer says:

    ๐Ÿ™‚ Right there, you made me feel less alone. Was grinning by the end of the blog as you portrayed a replica of my two he said/she said squeeling one moment and inseparable the next.

    Great post

  3. Jo x says:

    My 2 are just the same at age 3 & 4.5, i'm hoping Joseph starting school will help as up until now they have been spending almost all their time togeather even at pre-school,
    My recent post Silent Sunday

  4. iotamanhattan says:

    Aaaarghh… let me know if you find the answer. Sounds very familiar.

    I like to think of it as good training for life. The security of a relationship where you are totally loved and accepted, and therefore free to experiment with the annoyance and anger and rowing, and find out what the extremes feel like. "I'm never going to talk to you again" – freedom to say that when you know it's not true, and you know the other person knows it's not true. That is a great gift of siblinghood!

    One of my strategies is to separate them. "OK, if you don't want to play together, separate rooms. NOW! For 20 minutes." (Or 30 minutes, or an hour, or 10 minutes…. whatever works.) Sometimes they just fume separately, but sometimes one of them really did want a bit of space – even if they didn't have the vocabulary or the self-knowledge to say that.

    I try not to referee, but if I say "I don't want to hear it", then one or the other, or both, feels aggrieved. "You never listen to me". The separate rooms thing seems to work for that too. By the time they've cooled off, they're no longer interested in telling me exactly who said what, or whose fault it was. Or if they are, it's all much calmer and we can have a reasonable chat.

    I'm guessing there will be some loss for Mia over the next period of time, because Daniel will need more space as he grows up, and his need will come sooner than hers. Maybe more playdates with her own friends would help? Or a new interest? However close siblings are, they need to be individuals too. As for the "being annoying when friends are round", I think you can do a bit of stage managing. Either have friends round for Mia at the same time, or have friends round for Daniel when Mia is out. Or have friends round for him when you have time to spend one-on-one with her. Or agree beforehand that some play will involve her, but some won't, and set times so that expectations are managed. Otherwise, yes, it can feel very hurtful for her and annoying for him.

    I think it's a hard transition as a parent. When they're little, you can manage their relationship far more. But of course as they grow up, they need to carve out their own relationship. I think most parents long for their children to be best friends with their sibling, but there are no guarantees. It's hard to let go. We so want to sort it out for them, and make it happen. If it's any encouragement, I think all the ingredients are there for your two to be good friends. It comes through your blog time and time again how happy they are together, and how much they value each other (on occasion, I'll confess, I've felt a little pang of jealousy when mine have been in a bad phase and I've read one of your posts…).

    OK, I'll shut up now. This is a long comment…

    Except to say, I do love that photo of Mia! Brilliant.

    • Tara says:

      Wise words Iota. The trouble I have is, now Dan is older is so much easier to have friends over. He pretty much organises it himself and they're no trouble at all. Having 7 year old girls over is different!
      However, I've done exactly what you said today. Dan is home from rugby and brought a friend back. So I phoned Mia's friend around the corner and now she's over too. You think it'll be hard work, but actually it's made it easier!
      My recent post Warfare

  5. sarahmo3w says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this, I can really relate! I am sick to death of the sound of my daughter's voice yelling at her biggest brother! I know he's the one at fault, but her voice is SO LOUD. Unlike your two, they have never got on, but the arguing is getting out of hand. My middle one has always been close to both of them and they adore him. Right now, I'm so grateful I have him, he is a little oasis of calm!
    My recent post Silent Sunday 15.9.13

  6. Expat Mum says:

    Wise words from Iota. I would add that the little ones need to respect the older sibling's need for privacy or just the desire to be with a friend. I have a 7 year gap between my two boys and they've only just stopped fighting. God knows that they had to fight about when they were 8 and 15, but they did. One thing I had to stress was that when the big brother didn't want him in his room, the little guy had to respect that – as long as it wasn't all the time. Sometimes they just need time apart.
    My recent post Normal Service…..blah, blah, blah

    • Tara says:

      Yes exactly this. Dan definitely wants his space more now. He likes to just sit in his room and read but Mia is on his bed or fiddling with his stuff or asking him a million and one questions. Must drive him mad
      My recent post Warfare

  7. Oh this is us. M said to Bug just last week "you're freakishly weird but I love you" This is a good day, but there are the days when he so badly wants to join in with his big sister and her friends and they just don't want him ๐Ÿ™
    My recent post Fitbug and WalkActive – the motivation I needed (review)

  8. thedavidwwright says:

    Growing up and navigating people, even your siblings is rough, and rougher as a parent to have to watch. But as others said, it is good practice for life and might even he helpful for them. As long as they still have the moments like the sweet picture at the bottom, and can still talk, I'd think everything will sort itself out.

  9. I have 2 boys and they have NEVER got o! I hate to have to say that but they just don,t so I am used to constant bickering. We have sat back and observed and realised it's my soon to be teen trying to be the eldest and run his older brother down (eldest has undiagnosed Asperger traits!)- this makes for war in our house. We have started to literally IGNORE the youngest when he starts and have got the eldest on board too. Seems to be working- bloody hard though- but working ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Tara says:

      It's so TIRING though right? Sometimes it just helps to know you're not the only one and that life isn't a bed of roses in everyone's home and that they too are struggling x
      My recent post Warfare

  10. English Mum says:

    I know I always say this, but it does get better. Mine were exactly the same. Now 15 and 18 they're great mates and mix with the same group of friends. But oh god I remember those times.. 'You always take his side!'

  11. familyfourfun says:

    Sounds exactly the same as my two at the moment who are 7 & 9 an your daughter sounds of similar temperament too! The bad times far outnumber the good at the moment and Madam does push her brother to boiling point because she hates being ignored, knows it all and must have the final word. I know they fight because they're close but it's so hard! xx
    My recent post The School Run…

  12. saveeverystep says:

    Even our 7 year gap doesn't stop them. To me it's screaming, torture, murder, someone will get hurt, white noise. To them it's 'just playing'.
    My recent post Oak

  13. Suzanne says:

    If it's any consolation our house is very similar and there are 3 of them! I near pretend that our life is a bed of roses because quite frankly it isn't and I spend a good deal of my time wondering where I went wrong! I honestly think that siblings naturally bicker and irritate one another – they are in each other's company for a many hours a day, who wouldn't get annoyed? I don't think it's helpful for people to portray complete sibling harmony, I've decided that's an un obtainable ideal! Glad it's not just me. Sorry to be of no help whatsoever ๐Ÿ™
    My recent post If you can't beat 'em….

  14. Harriet says:

    Welcome to my world – only without a period of time, EVER, when they've got on….

    Actually that's not true. There are whole half hours at a time when they don't fight, and when I get what I thought was a glimpse into a future where they actually like each other. Although you've made me realise that's optimistic.

    I think it is, as you say and as of course you know, a phase, but I think (or at least I found last night) that the best thing you can do is (if you can find someone who'll have them) to get away from it yourself. I found myself in tears last night having been shouted at all day, or at least that's what it felt like. Only it wasn't true. When B sent me out for a walk round the river on my own I realised that actually we'd had some lovely times together, but somehow, in amongst all the noise and tension and stress you lose sight of that. It's only when you step away that you realise the curled up on the sofa moments still do happen…

    So pop round for a coffee and we'll share war stories and make each other feel better…!

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