Ever since Joel's birthday, the sibling slugfests have taken on a new intensity. There's fighting over toys, especially the shiny new ones. They both want to be on the same stool, or the same section of the couch, or in the same tiny patch of air. One is always terribly, horribly WRONGED, and I feel like my life has become one of those dreadful talk shows where everybody is SCREAMING all the time.
For example, today I heard "JOELY! NO!" followed by a high-pitched wail. You know the kind? It burns the enamel off your teeth.
Joel entered the room, howling, "Blabbity, blah, blah blah, O-WOO!" I believe this means, "I have been terribly wronged once again and the person who deserves your punishment is no other than my dastardly brother, Owen."
Apparently my youngest talks like Simon Cowell in my imagination.
Owen, meanwhile, came in with his usual dissertation: "I was playing with that truck and it was MY TURN to play with it. I told Joel to go away and he didn't listen. I was there first and I told him to go play with something else and he never, ever does what I tell him to do. You need to make him go away because I am DONE WITH THIS, Mommy."
He went on like this for several more paragraphs, but I'll spare you the hot mess.
I did what I always do in situations like this: I put the truck on the top of the fridge and kicked them both into the backyard to play.
Where.... they promptly got into a fight about Joel's improper dumping of sand.
It was the kind of day that makes you reconsider the benefits of having two children.
As I was tucking Joel into bed for his nap, I heard Owen scream, "Somebody scribbled all over my book and I don't want anybody in my house EVER AGAIN!"
I hastily put Joel down, and met Owen in his room. He was holding the book in question in one hand, and tears were running down his face. He ran to his bed, into my arms, and sobbed.
The injustice! I felt it in every ounce of his little body. He heaved and shook as he clutched the book. It's a little too old for him, and he's never given a second thought about it before. That is, until Joel defiled it with purple crayon.
I held him until he calmed down enough to say, "Joel wasn't very nice to me. He makes me so angry."
As the oldest in my family, I can understand this anger. He felt violated, and it doesn't matter that Joel is "little" or "doesn't understand." It's still not cool.
I struggled to find the words, and found myself saying this:
"Do you know what Joel asked while you were at Grandma and Grandpa's house?"
"What?" Owen said, his arms a tight knot across his chest.
"He said, 'Where's O-Woo?' He asked that all the time. Why do you think he wanted to see you?"
"I don't know," Owen said, a ray of a smile peeking behind his block of ice.
"Because you're the most important person in his life." I tickled him gently. "What did he eat applesauce? Because you were eating it. Why did he eat a plum?"
"Because I was eating it!" he said, laughing.
"So," I said, "Why do you think he was writing in your book?"
"I don't know," he said, serious once more.
"Do you think he was trying to write letters, like you?"
Owen smiled, "Joely wants to be like me!"
"That's right, Buddy. You are his hero. What is your job?"
He sighed slightly, and said, "To take care of him."
"Because he loves you," I prompted.
"Yes, Mommy. Because he loves me."
I walked away, and heard Owen call, "I love Joely too. But tell him not to write in my books, ever again!"
"Okay, honey," I said. "I'll do my best."
I guess I'll call that progress for now.