Sometimes I worry about the way my kids get along. Sometimes it seems that all they do is scream, holler, and hurl insults at each other.
Even on this special morning, when all should be happy and peaceful and calm, they were at it again. Jill and Jake, standing in the hallway, nose to nose, yelling and arguing over some insignificant thing.
"Can't we have peace this morning? Please?!" I begged.
"Well he.....!" Jill began.
"You're crazy, it was you who.....!" Jake protested.
"Yeah! But not until you....!" Jill interrupted.
Sigh. There was only one thing to do. Lock myself in my room, and call my sister.
"Merry Christmas, Jude."
"Merry Christmas to you too, I love you."
I could hear the smile and the warmth in her voice, and I took advantage of it. I whined about the kids.
"I can't believe you're telling me this." She said, laughing, after I lamented about how they hated each other, asked her where I'd gone wrong, swore that they would never love one another, never have a decent relationship.
"Whad'ya mean?" Sniff.
"Cindi! I knew your memory could be selective, and even slightly imaginative, but good grief, don't you remember how we fought?"
"Think back to when we were about twelve and thirteen." She said. "I'm thinking of one particular instance, but when you remember this one, the rest of it should come back."
I had no idea what she was talking about.
"I had spent hours on the Etch-a-Sketch. You know how I was always playing with that thing. I was doing a portrait of Dianne's Mrs. Beasley doll, and it was actually turning out pretty good."
"Uhhhh...." I was at a loss, no clue whatsoever.
"Hang on a minute and listen, this may have been one of those traumatic childhood memories that you blocked out." She said giggling.
"I had left it lying in our bedroom floor, and here you came all gangly and long-legged and awkward and clumsy and you accidentally kicked it across the room. It hit the wall and bounced off. Of course by that time, any remnants of my portrait were erased for good."
I gasped out loud, remembering how creative she was, how artistic, and that a portrait on an Etch-a-Sketch would be exactly like something she would attempt.
"Yeah, that was pretty much my reaction too. At first. Then, sorry to say, I got blood in my eye, and I vowed that if it was the last thing I did, I was going to kill you."
"You? You puny little thing?" I said on reflex.
"That's pretty much what you said then too, and I think the rage that that remark inspired was what gave me the super-human strength I needed to tackle you like a full back, and take you down."
"Oh you did not! No way!" Wait....maybe.
"The next thing I remember, I had a double fist full of your hair and I was beating your head against the floor as casually as if I were pounding sand at the beach."
"Surely I didn't just lay there and take that!" I was laughing now too.
"Oh he11 no! No you didn't." She really started cackling then. "You flipped me like a pancake, straddled me, hooked one thumb in either corner of my mouth and just started pulling like you were trying to split open an orange."
"Dang! Where'd I learn that!?"
"I dunno, three stooges I guess."
"Then what happened?" I asked breathlessly.
"Well, I was pretty well so pinned, and being smaller, and not able to throw you, I unsheathed the claws. I dug into your arms for all I was worth, and I didn't let go until you did, but by then, you were bleeding and my poor little mouth was so stretched out of whack I couldn't even tell you what I thought of you."
Oh yes, the memory was coming back now. I used to bite my nails. To the quick. Judy however, always had long nails. They were her pride and joy.
I scooted across the bed to the nightstand and turned on the lamp. Holding my arm under the light I found them. The little half moon scars. After all these years, still there, glaring evidence of the era of my own sibling disquietude.
"I see them." I breathed. "Judy, I can still see the scars!" For some bizarre reason that escapes me, I got tears in my eyes.
"Course you can. Just like I can still see the scar on my leg from when you accidentally on purpose ran over me with your bike because I kept after you until I made you pee your pants when you were eight."
"Wait a minute, wait a minute!" I lifted up my right pants leg and found the scar from when she pushed me into the heater, after I told her that she snored. She not only pushed me into the heater, she told me that my freckles were ugly, and would never go away, even though she knew that I had tried lemon juice, milk, mayonnaise and every other so-called freckle remedy that came down the pike. My reaction to this was to yank her to the ground and try to beat her to a bloody pulp.
"God! We were AWFUL!! I remember now! I remember Mom coming in and pulling us apart after the Etch-a-Sketch battle!"
"Yep. She pulled us apart many times."
"You know what" I said softly, "I don't remember ever having to pull my kids apart. They argue and they whine, but only rarely do they resort to physical battles."
"Well, there you go then. What was it you were saying about ...'where did I go wrong?'...sounds to me like you must be doing something right."
"Well, sure, I mean, if they are not trying to kill each other, you're doing a good job, honey. They'll come around, just like we did. Look at the way we fought, and we're not enemies, right? In fact, like an old married couple, I suspect we will love each other with all our hearts 'til death do us part."
I was getting a warm feeling inside, and despite the fact that I could still hear Jake and Jill out in the hallway, bickering, I could only sigh with contentment, and know that one day, they would share the same kind of relationship that I now shared with my own sister, whom, at one time in my life, on many different occasions, I had done my utmost to beat to a bloody pulp.