As you may remember before my blogcation I occasionally talked about my two daughters. No they haven’t grown up. I wasn’t away that long. They are, however, at an ever maddening age that requires me to develop a new parenting skill. I now play to role of the referee for their escalating and ongoing battles.
My five year old (aka The Little Girl) is a pretty, smart but sensitive kid who knows how to push the right buttons to get what she wants. My two-year-old (aka The New Toddler) is, well, she’s a destructive force on a scale that society has never witnessed before. She’s also highly determined to get what she wants when she wants. Two years ago I dismissed the concept of the “Terrible Twos” and touted the “Treacherous Threes”. So, yeah, um, I was quite mistaken on that front.
Three is still a rough age but I now understand how terrible two actually is. Part of my blogcation was spent hiding as the two-year-old rampaged through the house like a miniature Godzilla. Anyway, as you can imagine when these two get going it can get quite messy. That’s when they call in me to referee.
I typically know it’s time for my arbiter duties when I hear the baby request a sit down by yelling, “No! No! Mine! Mine! Stop it, E-ya! Mine, E-ya!” Now the New Toddler either can’t or refuses to call the Little Girl by her real name. I suspect she doesn’t use her sister’s real name as part of the psychological warfare of siblings. Sometimes I’m moved to refereeing duty when the Little Girl calls out, “Daaaaaaddeee! Come get Maya. I can’t play while she’s in here!”
When I rush to see what’s going on the scene is almost always the same. The five year old has taken a toy (typically one of her own toys) that they two year old was playing with. Or they both want to sit in the same place on the same step or chair even though there’s a staircase full of steps or a house full of chairs. I used to send each kid to a neutral corner but I now know that doesn’t work because they will just come out fighting. Now I extol the virtues of sharing. I wax eloquent about the joys of sharing until I see the anger on their little faces turn to boredom. Then they look at me both thinking, “somebody pour this guy an adult beverage so he’ll shut up!”
When arbitration doesn’t work I have to drag the little one away because the second I turn around she starts antagonizing her sister. The two-year-old will take her sister’s toy and toss it to the other side of the room. Or she’ll tear the pages in a coloring book. I tell the New Toddler, “one day your sister is gonna punch you and keep punching you. The first time she does it I’m not stepping in. You’ll probably deserve it.” Now that sounds harsh, but hey, I’m a younger brother and I have a younger brother I know how annoying we can be. Besides the list of the Little’s Girls toys and coloring books that have been injured by the New Toddler is looooong.
The most frightening thing for me is the rare occasion when they’re playing quietly together. They rarely ever play together and it’s almost never quiet when they do play together. Something has to be wrong if they’re quiet in the same room. I envision them either engaged in a silent wrestling match, quietly plotting a coup to take control of the house or moving like ninjas through the house gluing toilet seats down. I spring into action to see which option they’ve selected. Of course my presence breaks up their quiet play and the baby inevitably wanders into whatever room I’m in to check on me. Then back to create havoc with her sister that then requires me to again assume the referee role.
They live to harass each other which means there’s no rest for my reffing duties. It’s like a game to them. The question I have is when does this war end? Ten years from now will they be fighting over clothes instead of Barbie dolls? I gotta get that man cave built ASAP.