Humor: Sibling Revelry
There are times when I struggle to find topics for my columns, and there are times when a topic lands in my lap in the middle of Shabbos lunch.
This past Shabbos afternoon, I sat at our table, innocently arranging turkey and salami on my challah slice, when the fighting broke out. My eldest child attempted to snatch a bowl of cholent that my youngest had brought home from shul.
My 9-year-old burst out, “Don’t touch my stuff!”
“Your stuff stinks!” my 16-year-old retorted.
“You think cholent stinks? You stink!”
“How do you think you smell when you eat cholent?”
Across the table, my other two children dropped their forks, watching the confrontation with anticipation. Clearly, they sensed the escalation coming.
“You stink so bad,” my 9-year-old said, indignation in her eye, “everything you touch starts to stink!”
Poking out a finger, my 16-year-old tapped his little sister’s bowl of cholent. “There! I’ve contaminated your cholent. Now you can throw it out.”
Calmly, my 9-year-old clapped her hands three times over the bowl of cholent, then declared, “Tumah, be gone!” She picked up her spoon and looked her brother in the eye. “Uncontaminated once again,” she said, then ate a heaping spoonful of cholent from the bowl with exaggerated relish.
This is just one example of the (occasionally armed) conflict that has filled my home this summer vacation. Yes, they have occasionally “played nicely” and shared and all that good stuff. There was this lovely moment when my daughters decided to spend their allowance on fun food at the grocery store, walked their hand in hand with their pocketbooks slung over their shoulders, and returned with Bissli, gum, and a packet of candy with a gimmicky name and more artificial flavors added than I care to reflect upon. My youngest has made breakfast for her sister, and vice versa. My 13-year-old returned from a walk to Munchies with marshmallow sticks for all his siblings—he paid for them himself. And my 16-year-old has reached down items from the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet for everyone all summer long. There have been fun times frolicking in the ocean and playing Settlers of Catan around our table.
There have also been daily battles between siblings. “She’s reading my library book!” “She got into the ‘good’ shower after I claimed it!” “Why does he get to go to the store with you?” “He changed the rules half-way through the game!” “She’s reading on my bed!” “He’s playing with my Legos!”
Of course, they run to whichever room I’m hiding in to tell me all these things. I’ve negotiated treaties while on the phone with friends in my bedroom, finagled cease-fires through bathroom doors.
Again and again, I have suggested, “Why don’t you call a friend and visit them?” and “Will you please meet a friend for ice cream? I’m willing to pay for both of you!”
Alas, there is no peace for me. They insist on staying home and fighting. Therefore, I’ve come to a simple conclusion: my children enjoy fighting with their siblings.
I’m not exactly sure why. I’ll tell you when I figure it out. Until then, don’t be surprised if I land on your doorstep requesting refugee status until after school starts.