So here’s the current state of affairs in our house.
“Gracie, no! That’s not how you brush your teeth. Look, look at me- no! You can’t just suck the toothbrush! Mommy, come in here please, she’s sucking the toothbrush and you need to tell her!”
“Vinny, she’s 2 years old. She’s doing her best. Leave her alone.”
“No, Mommy. No. She needs to learn the right way, and what she is doing is incorrect. We can’t just leave her alone and not teach her, she’ll get cavities, and they hurt, and she’ll need fillings…”
That was 7:30 this morning.
“I’m all done with dinner!”
“Me too, I all done with dinner too!”
“Gracie, you are not all done, there is still ½ a meatball in your bowl.”
“Vince, honey, she’s just trying to be like you, let it go.”
“But Mommy I can’t. It’s not right. We can’t just let her say things if they’re not true, it’s not right.”
And here’s a little gem from Sunday morning:
“Gracie, please give that to me.”
“Gracie, you heard Mommy say no markers on the dining room table, only crayons. Now please give it to Vinny.”
“NO! It’s my marker and I use it because I wanna use it! Let GO!”
“Gracie, no! If you get marker on the table, it will stain. And if it stains we’ll have to find a way to clean it up. This is Mommy’s grandma’s table and we don’t want to make her sad. Now give me-“
“Gracie this is not nice! Mommy, she needs a timeout until she calms down.”
In summary, I’ve observed three things over the past few months.
- Vince is in fact an identical miniature of his father.
- My 5 year-old son has decided that he is my 2 year-old daughter’s primary parent.
- I may or may not be raising Sheldon Cooper.
I admit that I don’t often intervene unless things get ugly or someone is bleeding. There is something to be said for letting someone else take the reins for a minute so you can take 7 sips of coffee while it’s hot (yes, you can take 7 relaxed sips in a minute- anymore and you’re just rushing it. Not that I’ve counted.) Also, it’s not such a bad thing to have a mini-enforcer who is on the level of the child that is, well, a bit…headstrong and completely unwilling to listen to her actual parents. Yes, that sums it up nicely.
Besides, they’re not always butting heads. Oh, no, on the contrary. When they aren’t doing battle, they enjoy sitting hip to hip and watching Netflix; opening each other’s snacks; washing each other’s hair in the bath; having dance parties; cooking together in their play kitchen; and gently play-wrestling until Grace gets a little too real, starts throwing fists and launching arm bars, and we have to declare a timeout.
We like to refer to them as our funny little old couple. They exist on a fair amount of bickering backed by a foundation of unconditional love. We think it’s adorable.
But I’ve recently begun to wonder if my kids are perhaps too close to one another.
I find myself saying, pretty often, “Vince, you’re not her dad. You can’t tell her what to do.” “Vince, you can’t scold her like that; she’s not your daughter, she’s your sister.” “Vince, you can’t give her a timeout! You’re NOT her parent!” “Grace, will you please stop sitting on your brother’s neck?! And- hey, don’t spit on him!”
Ok that last one, that’s just something that disturbs me and I needed to vent. Anyway.
I mean, I’m so glad that they love each other so much. I’m so grateful that they truly enjoy each other’s company. But I’ve started to wonder if maybe it’s damaging them in some way to be so…well…in each other’s business all the time.
As though it heard my question, the Universe came through and gave my daughter the meltdown of all meltdowns.
At 7:45 this morning.
In my driveway.
Right next to my neighbor’s window (my neighbor who, I should add, texted me to say she hoped my day got better- THAT’S how loud it was).
Apparently, when I said, “Sure you can carry Mommy’s lunch bag to the car!” what Grace interpreted was, “Sure you can carry Mommy’s lunch bag to the car, bring it into the back seat, open it and eat everything in it!” When she found out that wasn’t the case…let’s just say it’s a good thing Mommy has catlike reflexes, because she hurled her head towards the gravel faster than Marty the Puppy dives into her bowl at breakfast.
Oh, but the mayhem didn’t end there. No, no, no. After flinging my lunch bag at me, the Tornado Formerly Known as Gracie demanded I hand over my phone so she could “watch a video while you drive.”
The response I wanted to give: “AAAAhhahahahaahahahahahahaa!!!”
The response I actually gave: “No, Grace, we do not get things when we behave like this.”
This, as you can imagine, did not sit well.
So here’s where the Universe pulled the bait and switch and gave me my answer.
As I pulled out of the driveway and headed towards our first drop-off, the screams died down and I suddenly heard the tiniest, quietest of exchanges going on in my back seat. I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw Vince leaning his hand to Grace’s, who sniffled and reached out to hold it.
“Are you ok, Gracie girl?” I heard him whisper.
Sniffle. “I’m ok, Vincent.”
“It’s going to be ok, don’t you worry. Love you.”
“Ok, Vincent. Love you.”
Are you melting right now? I definitely was. Ugh, kids and the emotional rollercoaster they strap you into.
By the time I pulled into the school parking lot, all was quiet behind me. I turned to let Vince know he could open the door…and saw him sitting on Gracie’s side of the car, whispering to her. She was staring into his eyes, nodding, and smiling. Then he kissed her forehead and I melted into a puddle on the floor of my car.
As I walked him to the door (3 feet from the car, people, don’t freak out. I didn’t give Grace the keys and tell her to take a spin around the lot while I dropped him off), I asked, “So, what were you talking to Grace about?”
“Well, I just wanted to make sure she was ok, and I told her if she just took a deep breath and calmed down, things would get better. I told her when I’m having a tantrum and start getting crazy, you tell me to sit on my bed until I can calm down. And once I do, everything is ok. So I was just letting her know, to help her.”
There was my answer.
Standing next to me, his tiny hand in mine, his curly orange mohawk glinting in the Sun, was one half of the best funny little old couple I ever could have asked for.
I love that they love each other. I love watching them cuddle under a blanket and choose a movie together. I love hearing Gracie call, “Where’s my Vinny? I missed you!” after school, and watching Vince come running, calling back, “There’s my Gracie! How was your day?”
I love their silly arguments and their undying loyalty to one another. I love that he wants to guide her and protect her. I love that he’s the first person she runs to when she needs boo boo ice or someone to twist open her applesauce pouch.
As long as they’re not still washing each other’s hair in the bath in 5 years…I think they’re going to be ok.