Growing up with my younger sister by two years, we were the best of friends. We loved to play together. We did everything together without a bitter word ever passing between us. We were the epitome of sisterly love.
And if you believe that, I have a private island in the South Pacific I’d like the sell you. In reality, sure there were times we got along well together, but mostly, we argued a lot. Back then, we really couldn’t agree on much of anything. Of course I was always right and she always started it! I can remember hearing my mother and grandmother saying, “Stop your bickering!” or “enough girls.” But, we both had to have the last word and the argument would continue. At the time, I never really thought about how our arguing and constant picking at each other effected the ‘grown-ups’ around me until now.
I know God must be laughing at me now (along with my mother and grandmother) as I get my just rewards. I know have two argument-prone daughters of my own. At almost five years apart, you wouldn’t think they’d have anything to fight about. That they would actually get along with each other, but no. I think they live to antagonize each other and me. The youngest wakes up in the morning, reaches up and pulls her sister’s hair for no reason. And it begins:
“Mom, she pulled my hair!” the oldest one tattles.
“Well, she hit me first,” the little one defends herself.
“No I didn’t,” the older one retorts.
“Yes, you did!” she asserts back.
“No, I didn’t”
“Mom, I just lightly tapped her to get her to move off my shirt. Ouch! Mom she did it again!”
After a few moments, the words “That’s enough girls! Stop your bickering now!” spew out of my mouth. The constant picking at each other is like fingernails on a chalkboard to my nerves. They continue on with their argument, though, as if I hadn’t just told them to stop. It wouldn’t be half as bad if they didn’t keep dragging me into it. As the arguing escalates through the morning routine, I start to count to three. If I get to three, no TV in the evening. They hate that! It works way better than timeouts for me, plus I don’t have to watch the same episode of Shake it Up for the twentieth time.
One Saturday morning on our way back from running errands, their need to be right lost the television privileges for the rest of that day all the way to Tuesday. By the time they lost Tuesday, they were done fighting and were pleading with me for away to get their “Wizards of Waverly Place” fix back.
“What if we be good for the rest of the day?” they both begged.
“Well, I told them. You can’t earn back today, it’s gone. But, if you are good for the rest of the day and you help with the chores around the house, you can earn back your TV privileges.”
They were all over it! They were best friends for the rest of the day. In addition, they cleaned the bathroom sinks, the toilets and helped wipe down the tub. They picked up their stuff in the living room and cleaned up their room. It was AMAZING. We turned up the music and sang and danced as we powered through the chores. In the end, they earned back the three days of TV they lost, I didn’t have to listen to them argue and I got my bathrooms cleaned.
Hmmm…. Maybe their arguing isn’t so bad after all. They argue, I take away the TV and they earn it back by doing chores without complaining… I like it!!!
Back to my sister and me though, we are quite good friends now. We talk on the phone once or twice a week, we go on girls’ weekends when we can, and we rarely, if ever, argue. So, there is hope for my girls yet, that someday they will love their sister and value her, just as I do mine.