My Kids are Best Frenemies
"Frenemy": a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry.
Like most families, car trips bring out the worst in us.
My car is a decent size in which both kids can, technically, have their own row of seating if I'm feeling generous. But there are still times when the bickering begins before we clear the driveway, and suddenly I'm threatening to turn the car around, stay home forever, cancel their birthdays...anything to keep them from speaking to each other.
Most of the strife occurs because one louder, more emotive child dominates the conversation with her many opinions and stories that are very interesting to her. This leaves the other child fighting to get a word in. They both wait for a millisecond of silence, pounce on it at the same time, and then wail, at the exact same time, "Heeeyyyyy, I was talking!"
Meanwhile, we're thirty seconds into a two-hour road trip.
But lately, the balance of power has started to shift as my youngest learns the fine art of pitting logic against drama. The other day, my older daughter was describing the plot of a book she's reading, holding court with wild hand motions from the back seat as usual.
"...and if they don't stop the villain, he could destroy the very fabric of space and time!" she cried. "And then - "
" - there is no such fabric like that," my younger one piped up. "That doesn't exist."
"Heeyy, I was talking," my oldest whined. "Besides....have you no imagination? Shame on you!" She clutched her hand to her heart in mock horror.
"Shame on you," her sister replied.
Silence. I held my breath, preparing to break up a fight.
My eldest looked stricken. "But...," she sputtered, "I didn't even do anything!"
And then something magical happened: both burst out laughing, at themselves and each other.
This is how my youngest is finding her voice. She's learning to push back on her sister as only a sister can, and it's changing the way they relate. They come at each other with ruthless, often borderline-cruel honesty, but also with a love and affection deeper than anything I share with either of them.
Of course, I can only sit back and marvel at them for so long, because they will soon learn to use their powers against me. When that happens, please send liquor and chocolate.