“Can we go to the water fountain?”
“Fine,” I say. “As long as you don’t fight on the way there.”
A lady nearby laughs, and I realize she thinks I’m joking. Bless her and her sweet, agreeable children. They must not have been melded from volcanic fire and molten steel like mine seem to be.
School’s been out just a few weeks, and while I’ve heard rumors of my kids playing well together (usually originating from my husband, because apparently they save their best-worst-behavior for me) I’ve also heard enough bickering to last me all summer.
(Desperate me: Is that it? Could they just be getting it out of their system to have a peaceful rest-of-the-summer? Shhhhh, desperate me. That’s crazy talk. Go sit back down and get your hopes up about something else. Here you go: CHORE CHARTS.)
So, for my amusement amid the absurdity, here are 12 for-real arguments I’ve broken up. Or rolled my eyes at. Or threatened to lose my sanity over. Or closed the door behind me on with a soul-satisfying click.
1. One kid refusing another’s help, because we all know the order of assistance: (1) show compassion (2) yell in someone’s face if they don’t want it.
2. The precise lyrics to Heartbeat Song.
3. Who the dog loves most.
4. If you can legally change the name of a stuffed animal once you’ve named it, under the apparently BINDING OATH of speaking that name aloud in the car.
5. If taking a toy out of someone’s hands is literally stealing or just rude. Let me show you, Mom. I will reenact it.
6. Not portraying someone accurately in the reenactment.
7. If a president of the United States would ever, under ANY circumstances, have a pancake breakfast with a kid (this one lasted at least 5 minutes).
8. If you can banish someone from your room for a year (also: how long a year actually is).
9. The words I KNOW, in response to anything (aka: kindling for a sibling fight). I KNOW it’s red-violet not violet-red. I KNOW I’ve already eaten two hot dogs. I KNOW we don’t have a live cheetah at home.
10. Revealing the answer to a “Guess what?!” question before everyone individually says “I give up, what?”
11. Arguing about whether they are arguing or not. Arguing about what arguing actually is. A fight does not have to include hitting, you know. I KNOW! (see #9)
12. Whose fault it is that mom is two steps from crazy and yells FINE BY HER if we fight all the way home because we are never leaving the house again except then she will be stuck there with us and she hasn’t figured all the details out yet.