Before bed this evening, my girls sat on the chair together. Camille was reading Piper a book. She looked up at me and said "I just love to read to Piper." And Piper added "I love it when Camille reads to me." They were the picture of sibling bliss. Never mind that earlier today they were tearing at each other. Pushing and pulling hair. Sobbing of course. This was only a minor skirmish in the daily battles. There had been name calling, stealing of each other's toys, whispered threats.
The girls bicker all the time. There are constant battles involving name calling and sometimes even resort to physical violence. Throughout the day, they tear at me to be the moderator in their battles which seem so petty to me but are momentous to them. Again and again I hear "Just ignore them." "Let them work it out themselves." I read books about siblings rivalry. I try to be careful with my words so that they do not feel labeled. And yet they battle on...asking me to be a witness to what I see as petty disagreements.
But for the girls, these are passionate war fares. Camille storms about with tears and flying hair. She sweeps through the room in an agony of angst over her sister's cruel words. Piper sobs big tears that drop onto my am because Camille has broken hear. They languish on the couch begging to me listen to their complaints. I tell them "Work it out!" But they don't. They look at me with accusing eyes. I am supposed to be the witness.
Maybe it's not the most researched or recommended way to deal with sibling wars but I have begun to listen. I don't say scripted words. Sometimes I just hold tiny bodies on my laps while the story pours onto me. I am often surprised by the intensity of their pain. And when they are done with this outpouring, I am equally surprised by how quickly they fall in love with each other again. They only want my ear, they only want to record this bloody history somewhere. They do not want me to punish the other girl, or to even take sides. I am the witness.
Then they turn from me and towards each other.