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What to Do When Your Kids Won't Stop Fighting

All the Bickering Is Gonna Kill Me This Summer

"I love having my kids home for the Summer," gush the moms who aren't me. In fact, my own mother was always one of Those Moms. "I don't know why people even have kids if they can't stand to be around them," she'd lament and then watch me wobble down the block on my Care Bears bike for the umpteenth time, the epitome of parental patience.

And then there's me, and I'm over here like, "Only two months, 27 days, 16 hours, and 42.8 seconds until school starts again. Woo hooooo!"

I shouldn't have to explain how much I love my kids, how fortunate I am to have such wonderful little people in my life. I'd do anything for my children. Anything, that is, except tolerate in good nature the one thing I despise most about summertime.

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THE BICKERING.

My Summer wardrobe may as well consist of a referee uniform (seriously, does LuLaRoe make anything umpire-ish that I can maybe accessorize with a whistle?) because once school lets out, that's what I'm going to be doing for what seems like yeeeeeears: arbitrating an endless string of ridiculous arguments. When my kids aren't in school, and therefore are together 24-7, they mix like oil and water. Like lemon juice and paper cuts. Like tuna and chocolate-covered caramels.

In small, intermittent doses of togetherness — like in the afternoons and evenings during the school year — they're fine. They get along and I snap adorable photos of them playing nicely (for Instagram). But in Summer, they quickly reach their "quota of closeness" and bam! — those Instagram pictures serve only to remind me what lies we're all perpetuating on social media.

Between flying elbows, flailing feet, and the ensuing thumps and smacks, I get to hear indignant whining about critical matters such as:

  • "He's breathing on me!"
  • "He keeps blinking really hard in my direction!"
  • "His nose is whistling!"
  • "But I wanted to be player one!"
  • "But I wanted the blue blanket!"
  • "But I wanted to eat the first piece of toast that popped up!"
  • "He called me a horse!"
  • "He sneezed too close to my cereal!"
  • "He's eating a booger!"
  • "He's waving his peeeeenis at me through the underwear hoooooole!"

And so on and so on. Ad infinitum.

It's not enough that my house is starting to resemble an episode of Hoarders (if the hoard was then ruthlessly ransacked by a band of grubby burglars with literal sticky fingers). Or that they're emptying the refrigerator faster than I can return my (shell-shocked) debit card to my (pitifully thin) wallet. We've got to add bickering to the mix. My Summer soundtrack is a medley of shouts and slaps interspersed by crescendos of whine. Too bad eye-rolling doesn't make a sound, because I could contribute some pretty awesome percussion. I wish yelling "Leave! Each other! Alone!" a bazillion times a day counted as cardio.

I wish yelling "Leave! Each other! Alone!" a bazillion times a day counted as cardio.

I try to remain calm and zen-like in the midst of it all, truly I do. But the constant cacophony of quarreling gnaws at me like so many ants on a honey-covered log, and I turn into the type of mom that only such bickering can bring out. My head swivels around like a possessed owl, and I snarl at them through gnashed teeth to knock it off, then follow that up with whichever threat sounds the most ominous at the moment. If I'm not already suffering a pounding headache from the incessant arguing, I get one from threatening too overzealously (apparently making bulging mom-eyeballs at your kids isn't great for one's physical well-being). It's exhausting, but it really puts them in their places.

. . . Until someone farts too close to someone else, and then all bets are off.

I wonder who coined the term "Summer break." Did they call it "break" because the kids get a reprieve from the stresses of school? Or was it actually meant to indicate the inevitable crumbling of parental sanity — as in, "breakdown" — brought about by relentless squabbling?

Because I think that's a much more accurate description.

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