Where there are two or more children, there will be bickering.
I have decided this may be one of the top rules of life where siblings are concerned.
It starts at breakfast. Since I have been taking care of them, Cade and Payton arrive at my house around 7 a.m., and the first order is food. So while I prepare breakfast, they usually watch TV. This worked well for a while. They’d watch PBS and whatever was on it – until Cade got old enough to realize that Netflix offered a vast array of programs that may or may not be appropriate for his little sister.
He now tries to encourage her to go into our sunroom to watch TV – where Netflix is not – so he can have free reign of the TV with Netflix, so he can watch “Power Rangers” or “Johnny Test” or “Power Puff Girls” (not sure what that’s about). Payton would like to stay in the room and get to choose the programs herself, but her taste tends to “Dora the Explorer,” “Backyardigans” or her current favorite, “Fresh Beat Band.”
Being the wise grandmother, from the beginning I have said, “Take turns. Cade can choose a program, and then Payton can choose. So then the argument begins. Cade invariably says, “It’s my turn,” or “My program was short, so I should get another one.” While Payton responds, “I don’t like that program. It’s scary.” (She’s figured out that description gets my attention.)
This summer the “discussion” has turned on control in every aspect of their lives. I believe that each child recognizes it’s a matter of who gets preference, and they both are constantly trying to make sure they have the upper hand – with YaYa, with Opa, with the world. It’s the proverbial “If he say’s black, she says white” – just because they can.
As we head to the pool, it begins again. First, Payton is still in a big car seat, while Cade is now in a booster. As a result, once Payton is in her seat, the bulk of it means her legs and feet are in the way of Cade getting past her. So I’ve made a rule that if they get in on the passenger side where Payton’s seat is, Cade must be allowed to go first. If they decide to get in on the driver’s side, Payton must go first. So Payton still will make gestures indicating she’s going to climb in first just to watch Cade react – and to see if YaYa will yell.
As they get older, the good news is that they both need me in the water less and less, so there’s no constant arguing over who gets my attention and help in the water.
But the trouble begins again with discussions of lunch. Cade loves Chick-fil-A, so, for a long time, I could guarantee that if I mentioned it, he would be very happy to go. But for the last couple of months, if Payton is agreeable with going out for lunch, Cade is not – “I want to eat at the pool” or “I want to go home for lunch” are his mantras. So then I have to figure out a way to appease both children. Again, we’ve tried taking turns, but they are never convinced that it’s not their turn.
And just when you think they spend their days thinking of ways to make each other’s lives difficult – and YaYa’s life, as a result – they surprise you. Just today, Cade dumped out a huge box of tiny Legos on the floor, and when he was through with them, I urged him to pick up before he moved on to something else. “I can’t pick them up all by myself,” said Cade. To which I replied, “You had no problem dumping the Legos on the floor by yourself. My guess is that you can pick them up equally as well.”
As he began to protest in order to attempt to make his case for why dumping is a one-kid job but clean up is not, Payton said, “I’ll help you Cade.” And she sat down and began putting Legos in the box.
Maybe we’ll all survive the bickering after all.