kids We have reached the age of sibling squabbles. Mature interested parties who have already made great investments into their posterity, as well as those parties who took part in such squabbles, will remember this age of “I am right” accompanied by creative tones of voice and actions that demonstrate little patience and toleration for each other. With occasional moments of shock (“They’re already that big?”) along with humble gratitude and amazement for the blessing of parenthood as we watch our children grow up, we parents of these beautiful children occasionally have to tackle this new stage with various degrees of hit or miss. Luckily, I know the love they have for each other as this is also demonstrated in various ways which is sweet and encouraging to see. As I watch my children, I am often reminded of my own days growing up with my cousins and our many adventurous bonding experiences together throughout the years. One story from Aunt Patience comes to mind.

Aunt Patience is a fine woman from whom came many lessons. Her children and I were lucky enough to grow up together, and, as children will do, we often had our typical childish fights— who had the best treat, who got the special seat in the car, and, basically, who had the best and most of anything. As their almost daily playtime companion, I was used to these odd and, yes, silly squabbles and I admit to taking part in my share of them. As silly as many of these squabbles were, they were serious to at least one involved party at the time, and I was not always surprised by what would set someone off. Aunt Patience would try to make us see logic, but as children, logic is different for us than it is for adults, and we simply didn’t understand why adults couldn’t see the importance of our argument and the fact that we were right. Faced with us stubborn children (we all shared the same genes, after all), Aunt Patience did her best to referee, squelch, or simply ride out each fight to the end, smoothing any hurt feelings or egos as necessary.

When I was older, Aunt Patience told me of an experience that she knew I could relate to that happened when she and her children were giving a friend a ride home one day. Not being used to their rivalries, their friend was at a loss as to how to react when she uncomfortably found herself between the siblings when their fight started. Each was complaining that the other one was hogging all of the room in the back seat, and each argued that they had less room on their side of the car than the other. They discussed measurements using the universal and indisputable method of child measurement: they would measure their space with one hand against the door and the other against their leg, then carefully, so as not to disturb the measurement, they would hold up their hands to show each other exactly how much space was between those two hands. Every millimeter counted. (Admit it, you did this, too!) This would prove that the other sibling had far more space available on their side of the car, and should move over so other people could be more comfortable. Meanwhile, their friend simply sat between them in quiet surprise. They may or may not have been fighting for her right to space (it’s perfectly logical to justify your indignation when you claim to be fighting for someone else: “She needs more space! You’re hogging!”). Aunt Patience admirably kept her hands on the wheel and her eyes on the road while trying to convince her children that the seats were made equally and they each had the same amount of space. Nonsense. She then watched in amazement as her children proceeded to change places in the back seat, climbing over their friend in the middle, determined to prove to the other that more space was available on their siblings’ side of the car. Declarations such as, “Oh, you have TONS of room over here!” and appropriate roomy wigglings were made before they switched their seats back. I had witnessed, and been part of, incidents like this before and laughed as I could easily picture this incident, and myself part of it either taking sides or trying to be non-judgmental (admit it—as children, one’s attitude depends on the day).

Looking back at my lucky time with Aunt Patience and her children, I realize that I was getting quite an education both in childhood and in parenting. Mothers earn their educational degrees in many fields through daily hands-on learning, luck, imagination, and a unique instruction book pasted together from whatever notes they’ve managed to accrue from the many moms in their lives. Aunt Patience greatly deserves her name, and my great gratitude, for letting us be children and loving us wholeheartedly for it.

We’re often told that we’ll laugh at unpleasant, embarrassing, or awkward incidents at later times in our lives. Admit it, we all have many. While dear Aunt Patience recounted this story, I was wiping away tears of laughter and understanding, reliving wonderful moments of my childhood with the people I loved . . . and hopefully her wonderful now-grown children, who I love dearly and forever hold deep gratitude for, are laughing as well.

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