It is Saturday morning and I’m making Star Wars pancakes in the kitchen while the kids wait expectantly in their chairs.  They both want Yoda, of course, but there is only one Yoda mold, meaning I have to do two batches before we can put food on the table lest I be accused of the heinous crime of serving one of my children before the other.  (As an aside, do your kids like Star Wars?  Have you seen these?  I bought them on a whim four years ago, thinking the whole time, Ugh, I am such a sucker, this is such a frivolous splurge, but you know what?  Roughly 200 Saturday mornings later and it’s safe to say they were WORTH IT.)

Anyway, the kids are sitting at the table, waiting, with nothing to do, at 7am, which is generally a recipe for disaster.  But instead of sniping at one another, LittleMan is teaching Babygirl the finer points of making fart noises with her armpit.  “No, Babygirl,” he corrects her form.  “You need to make your hand like a pocket for air, like this.”  He demonstrates, and an enormous blurp fills the room, and I am turning to suggest that maybe armpit-farts are not appropriate for the breakfast table, when Babygirl erupts with the BEST laughter: a bubbling fountain of sound that I wish I could bottle up and sell and maybe all the world’s problems would be solved, because it’s impossible not to be happy when a child is laughing like that.

I wish that we could have a whole day of armpit farts and laughter.  Such a day would be a gift from heaven.


Gosh, my kids are squabbling a lot lately.  As I drop my head in despair at the end of the day, wondering aloud Where have we gone WRONG?? my husband points out, wisely, that it’s summer vacation and our kids simply aren’t used to spending this much time together.  And also: they are so fundamentally different it’s shocking that they emerged from the same gene pool.

Exhibit A: LittleMan.  A child whose ideal day involves total silence as he builds a kingdom out of Legos.

Exhibit B: Babygirl.  A child whose favorite pastime is to follow me around so closely that I frequently step on her.  (Literally.  Sometimes, if I’ve been, say, taking a shower or otherwise denying her attention, she comes up to me and asks: “Mommy, can I follow you for a while?”)

Also: LittleMan is a little man of few words, while Babygirl is a girl of many, many words.  And songs.  And knock-knock jokes that never reach conclusion.

In short: she gets on his nerves.  And she knows it, and milks it like crazy because girls are weirdly intuitive like that.

On the subject of sibling rivalry/sibling warfare, I oscillate, wildly, between anger and frustration on the one hand, and genuine concern on the other.  You know those news stories where the mom is mauled by a bear while she’s hiking with the children, and the only thing that saves them all is that the kids work together to find a park ranger who stuns the bear?  I hear those stories and I lie awake and wonder: could my kids work together like that if they really needed to?  Or would they wind up shoving each other off a cliff?  (And yes, I have played this scenario out in my head, probably because of all the hiking and wildlife we encounter living in our urban high-rise.  I have problems, clearly.)

I have a sister and we are deeply, deeply close.  I cannot even describe how much she means to me, it’s so tremendous.  The truth is that I want my children to have a relationship like that in their lives.  After all, in the end, if all goes according to plan, they will be left with one another, and I want them to find strength and solace in their common bond.  They are young, of course, but I want to cultivate that for them now

Even as I’m learning that you can’t force it.

They must build their relationship on their own terms and in their own time.  They must cultivate something that is theirs alone: something that suits them as a pair and serves them as individuals.

In the end, it won’t have anything to do with me.

But in the meantime, I want them to treat one another with affection — or minimally, with respect and kindness.  Is that too much to expect?  Isn’t that what we are trying to model, my husband and I, and frankly everyone who cares for and teaches them?  What else can we do?  How can we put an end to the Shut UP! and the MINE! and the kicking under the dinner table? How?


It’s Friday afternoon and the kids have been in day camp all week.  She’s in Group Two and he’s in Group Five, and today all the groups got on MUNI and took a field trip to the movies.  They will be tired and wired and ready for the weekend.  I wander up to the school gymnasium to retrieve them around 4pm, stopping for cookies on the way to sweeten the mile-walk home at the end of a big week.  Approaching the campus, I see that the camp kids are playing a slow-moving, Friday-afternoon kind of game of kickball on the blacktop, and I scan the sea of yellow field-trip shirts for my two blondies.  I finally spot Babygirl, clearly wiped out, slouched on a bench in the shade, kicking her little legs under her.  LittleMan wanders off the outfield to sit next to her, puts his lanky arm around her, and she leans into his shoulder.  He kisses the top of her head.

I stand at the gate watching them, understanding suddenly that even if they squabble all evening, in the end it will be okay.  I am pausing, fighting back tears, when they see me and burst across the blacktop together, shouting and smiling and asking if I’ve brought treats.

They hold hands on the walk home.

Such a day is a gift from heaven.

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