Summer may have just officially ended, but the lull of the ocean is a faint memory. The mild hum of chirping crickets has given way to the shrill squeal of honking cabs, and chaise lounge-y afternoons have been by replaced by Uber carpools. Before you can blink, life’s a swirl of schedules, school supplies(forms...meetings...take your pick...) and schlepping. But, of all the five-alarm sirens suddenly bombarding your city psyche, the most terrifying clamor is likely the one unfolding within the walls of your very own happy home. Yep, it’s the bedlam of your badass children, back-to-school brawling with one another like released rabid animals suddenly re-caged. The smallest tick can make them tock. And it goes a little something like this:
1. The Sofa. It’s family movie night! This would-be crowd-pleaser is enticing - a great activity that everyone can do together and that provides enough stimulation so that no one needs their phones (yeah, right…). It all starts innocently enough --the whole crew snuggled cozily on the couch like a family in an ’80s sitcom. But, then, the errant foot of your antsy youngest (accidentally?) grazes the leg of your oldest – and watch out! Marked territory has been invaded, retaliatory limbs are full-speed, and a spasmodic kicking joust ensures that nobody is comfortable, or safe, for the rest of the night.
2. The Closet. Note to parents: It may seem like no big deal if you mistakenly put Phoebe’s purple Terez tank top in her sister’s closet; after all, didn’t she come home from sleepaway camp with a trunkful of other bunkmates’ clothing? Well, think again, mom. Hell hath no fury like a sibling who believes their stuff has been taken by another sibling. When hurriedly sorting laundry before your tenth pick-up of the week, TAKE CARE to make sure all belongings return to their rightful owner. Good luck trying to referee a “That’s mine!!” fight without the beauty of being able to tell your kids to shut up and take it outside.
3. “His piece/scoop/cupcake is bigger!” You will be tempted here to diffuse a quickly escalating episode by declaring “It’s the same thing!” This won’t go well; you can’t cheat math. Two carats are not the same thing as three carats, and you know it. Children are funny – they can’t see the bright green slime that they let crust underneath their fingernails for a week, but they can count the chocolate chips in any given cookie before it hits the plate. That’s why God created snack-packs…
4. The Sleepover. There’s nothing quite like adding another child to the bubbling cauldron of sibling rivalry to push you over the edge. You may think you can’t handle the multiple-kid sleepover in the apartment-that’s-already-one-room-too-small, but having an uneven distribution of in-house friends is a surefire recipe for someone breaking into tears, possibly you.
5. The Day-Trip. Should the automobile have been invented in Biblical times, the terms “Shotgun!” or "Dibs!" surely would have warranted verse. Never before has the utterance of a single word been so prophetic. A simple plan to go apple-picking will be waylaid by tantrums over the injustice of seating arrangements, shoving matches, refusals to get in the car, and quite possibly, a child sprawled atop the windshield in a last-ditch, piece-de-resistance protest. Take solace in the comforting fact that you are, at the very least, using the car that you pay for though the nose to keep near to you should these winsome opportunities arise to spend the day together. Swear that you will make the children listen to '80s on 8 if they don't get their sh-t together in the next ten seconds. Kids fight! It's natural! So is Wham!