Friday, June 20, 2008

War

A grey and white cat prowls our neighbourhood. She's a tiny ball of fluff, and she's the terror of the local squirrels and birds. Occasionally she takes refuge on our windowsill. Her presence will be announced by the volley of growls erupting from my own mild-mannered felines, who crouch warningly and then leap at the window, bashing their skulls in an attempt to expel the invader. Hissing and spitting, claws extended, they are transformed from lazy couch-dwellers into the epitome of pure aggression.

They remind me a lot of my children lately.

One symptom missing from Bub's autism diagnosis is the specialized interest. He definitely has the capacity to latch onto a single interest and obsess about it for weeks on end, but once he's learned all he can about the subject, he usually moves on. The latest interest was fasteners - anything with a buckle, button or zipper would absorb him for hours at a time. The end result of this phase was that he can now dress himself. He's ready to move on, and he seems to have latched onto something new: tormenting his sister.

I realize that this represents a huge leap forward into social awareness. Instead of manipulating objects, he has begun to experiment with manipulating people. I would be happy about this - really I would - if only the screaming would stop for five minutes.

It starts the moment they get up in the morning. Pie is snuggled under the covers with me, and when Bub makes a move to burrow in with us Pie sends out the opening volley: "No! I will trap you!" The Nonsense Olympics have begun.

Bub: You won't trap me! First I will turn you into the Incredible Hulk!

Pie: [wailing] I'm not the Incredible Hulk! I'm Pie!

Bub: You are the Incredible Hulk, and I will snap you down!

Eventually, the verbal warfare devolves into physical combat. Slapping, biting, and pulling hair are part of the repertoire, but since the children realize that these tactics put them at high risk for time-out, they usually start with pulling feet, grabbing pyjamas, sitting on top of one another, and hurling pillows.

This goes on all day.

They have always fought, of course - they are siblings, so that goes without saying. But until now their fighting has had a purpose: they both want the same toy, or they can't agree on which video to watch. Now, fighting is an end in itself, a hobby that can be pursued anytime, anywhere.

Social learning is very important. My children are a kind of lab for one another, an experimental environment in which they can attain a comprehensive knowledge of human emotions and responses. But I've had it. Seriously. I am done.

25 comments:

Omaha Mama said...

My kids' shrieking is much higher this summer also. My little guy was only one last summer, so fairly easy to manipulate. Not so this year. A sure sign that they have gotten bored? The tackling and crying.

Lisa said...

Mine are just starting this. I guess A. feels threatened by Z getting bigger and that she'll steal his stuff so he starts messing with her. Mostly pushing. But I can see it evolving.
Thanks for giving me a glimpse into the future.

Kit said...

I'm glad that there is a higher purpose behind all the sibling squabbling - my Oldest and Youngest are at it all the time especially at mealtimes and since both of them have high levels of concentration and determination it goes on for ages ...they are 10 and 5, so I guess it is a long term process!

Karen said...

done x3 over here - my sympathies. Make cookies not war! peace out -

Lisa b said...

I cannot stand the yelling and crying. It all has me looking for work outside the home.

Mad said...

My memories of childhood are nothing but a violent struggle for survival. It's no wonder my mom was a bit daft by the end of it.

When you described Bub with the fasteners I could help but see the analogy with a certain paint-chip loving blogger I know.

Pieces said...

Wine. And earplugs. That is what you need.

Don Mills Diva said...

I'm so sorry - does it help to hear that my brother and I fought terribly and now adore each other?

Sarcasta-Mom said...

My kids have been fighting like rabid monkeys lately as well. The constant fighting is just so draining and exausting. I can't wait until summer camp starts....

Bea said...

Mad - Ack! I'm actually looking at paint chips right now AS I read these comments.

bren j. said...

There's a cat sleeping in my window just now. The most recent cat visitor in our yard was chasing a fox. The fox actually looked terrified. Mangy and terrified.

Hannah said...

Ouch. Sucks. I can see this starting here once James gets bigger.

My sister and I fought horribly for years - and now we're very good friends. I'm sure this is small comfort to mom who had to listen to us all the time.

Merle said...

In OAC WRiter'c craft, the teacher had us write a piece that started with x and then swtiched to y half way through. Your use of that technique here was brillant. I laughed, hard, when you said that your children were like the cats. I wish you strength and patience.

Kia said...

Ok, but at least your kids have EACH OTHER to fight with. My kid doesn't have siblings, so he chooses to fight with me most of the time. And what does it say about me that I am usually up for a good fight? Ugh. With us, it's not usually a physical battle, but a battle of wits. And, probably needless to say, he almost always wins.

Does Bub have any sensory issues with his autism? My son was just diagnosed with SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) and I've found thru my research that a LOT of autistic kids also have SPD. Just curious...

Aliki2006 said...

The fighting really gets to me sometimes, and it gets worse, with no end in sight.

Hopefully we won't have another ten years of this.

Baby Names said...

you need some wine

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Girl Names

nomotherearth said...

Oh I feel for you. We're not into the fighting..yet. Right now, it's whining. All. Day. Long. It makes me drink more than I would like.

Julie Pippert said...

Come sit by me. It's full scale warfare here, exaggerated by summer vacation where days are too long and unstructured and two kids are not use to being home and with each other all day.

School. I miss school.

If they are learning something here in this now, I shudder to think what. Oh I try, try to teach constructive problem solving, etc. I'm sure it gets in and it will all pay off LATER, when they are grown and living outside the home.

We take lots of bike rides and go to the pool often.

Julie @ Letter9 said...

We just took our oldest cat to the vet for an injury sustained during an outside-stray-induced fight between the house mates. Oh, the cat-screams. I can only imagine if they were kids instead. I'm so sorry for you. : )

Mouse said...

This is one thing I hope will be lessened when/if we have a second, as they'll be at least 6 years apart at this point.

But I do know well that sense of having Scooter develop a new skill that I know is developmentally overdue, but wishing we could have skipped it.

Mimi said...

Dude. I'm sorry. That sucks: I did this with my sister and I'm pretty sure my mom regretted having any children, let alone two. Ugh.

Christina said...

Ugh, I can relate. Cordy, who has rarely paid attention to any child, finds her sister the perfect test subject to practice the rough end of the social spectrum on. She'll walk by her and push her down as if it was a normal occurrence, or hit her with a pillow, or trip her, etc.

These are all things she would never do to another child except Mira. While it's nice to see her working on social development, I'm constantly wishing she could practice positive social skills a little more often.

kittenpie said...

My cat pulled that shit at 2:30 AM last night. Luckily, I should have another year at least before it starts with the kids... Yoiks.

Occidental Girl said...

Oh!!! I know. My daughter is an only child, and so she needs quite a bit of attention and I am the only one here during the day to give it! She isn't doing anything wrong, but it's depleting nonetheless.

I find the transition from school schedule to summer schedule excruciating. Once we adjust, it will be time to change again.

Janet said...

We are having a lovely weekend, here at my house, of all-fighting-all-the-time. Luckily, daddy is in Vegas for the weekend!

Can you feel the sarcasm in that last line? 'Cause it's there, tucked into every crevice. Pass the wine.