Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On Siblings in Close Quarters (Or, Infanticide: Is it misunderstood?)

In the wild, there are some animals that eat their young, a seemingly barbaric act called infanticide. As of today, however, I amend that definition to say “an understandable act”. Yes, I’ve just survived (barely) a twenty-minute car ride with both my children, and might I say, they are both damned lucky to not have been eaten. (What is the word for siblings who eat each other? Because that potential was also very prevalent in the car this afternoon.)

What was the fighting over?

Does it really matter? The fact is that when my son and daughter are forced to share a confined space, someone’s going down. As it happens, the three of us survived, but as I now sip my Blackstone Cabernet Sauvignon, my hand occasionally twitches in nervous spasm, sprinkling me with drops of red wine that signify the blood almost shed earlier today. As the Jewish holiday of Passover approaches, the symbolism is perfect; I spill the “blood” in memory of those who almost perished in the car and in celebration of my freedom to blog about it all, having lived to tell the gruesome tale. Oh, so truly scary.

I remember growing up with my younger brother. We fought interminably, probably pushing my mother so close to the edge of insanity. Still, when I share my troubles with her, she seems to remember those years about as vividly as a woman remembers the pain of childbirth, which is what pushes us to have a second child…that tendency to forget all the pain as soon as we hold our perfect baby in our arms.

“Oh, you guys weren’t that bad,” Mom insists.

That is when I reconsider my edge-of-insanity remark and think that my mother actually lost it years ago. I don’t know how she couldn’t see it, but I hated my brother. I can only say that now (knowing he may very well read this) because he knows that today he is one of my favorite men in this world, sharing that spot only with my husband and my son, who I affectionately call Little Man on days I haven’t been trapped with him and his sister in the car. My brother is so cool and so on my side that I can’t imagine ever having hated him so much.

Here we are circa 1972. Notice my hands on hips stance as I think, I'm not smiling while standing next to him, if that's what you're thinking, Mom!

But I did hate him. And I remember that. Which is the only solace I have at moments such as these. Moments when I fear that I may commit infanticide soon if my otherwise beautiful children don’t start loving each other NOW. I figure that as long as I keep my hopes intact and my belly full, my children just might survive their youth and grow up to be great friends in adulthood.

Until then, I’ll continue coloring my hair to cover up the gray they’re giving me. And instead of spilling “blood” from my wine glass, I’ll drink the stuff up and celebrate the truth…which is that I am damn lucky to have these sibling-hating angels in my life.


  1. I have actually SAID to my children, "It's fighting like this that turns mothers into alcoholics."

  2. Ah sibling rivalry. What fun it is. I mostly get along with my 2 sisters and 2 brothers. Mostly. But we're all getting older now with distance. Maybe that helps :)

  3. My brother and I had an... interesting relationship as children. I adored him and was very overprotective, and he was a terror. He loved to bite and hit me, and instead of harming him back, I'd run to my mother.

    Finally, one day she just said, "You know what? HIT HIM BACK."

  4. Steph, My story is the opposite. One day my brother cried to my father about my physical abuse. My dad looked me in the eye and said, "One day he's going to be bigger than you and hurt you badly. And I won't defend you." It took about 2 more years for my dad's premonition to come true. From that point on, fights turned verbal only.

  5. Ah, poor mothers. My brother hated me too growing up. Like, HATED. We still can't figure out why. I think it's just a mysterious childhood sibling thing. But I love that man to pieces. So much so that I made him a character in my first book. An uber cool character, with an amazing superpower. ;)

  6. Karen, I hope my brother isn't reading these comments, or else I can expect to be hit up to write a character who is a "super-lawyer", and between you and me, I'd have NO idea how to pull that one off!

  7. I am the proud parent of two boys, ages 7 and 9. We are stuck in the car together for (upto) an hour in afternoon rush hour after school. I totally feel your pain.