They cannot speak to each other, if me, or David, are not present, politely. They have ill will toward one another. By this, I mean they are just plain rude to each other. If Charlotte calls out Olivia's name to ask her to play a game, go outside and play, break out Mancala...whatever....Olivia will literally say "What????" in the nastiest, most annoyed tone. She doesn't answer her, as I have taught her to, which would be to say' "Yes Charlotte", in a sweet manner. No such luck.
Even if Olivia and Charlotte are in the front playing Top Chef, which they do with every terra cotta pot I own, and rocks and dirt, twigs and moss, being presented as meals, they are constantly bickering, and trying to one up the other. They judge the meals they have prepared so harshly, and some comments borderline on just plain mean. Which leads me to my second observation....
Competition. It seeps itself into everything we do. I took them to the lake yesterday. I brought along 3 Styrofoam noodles...the kind you float on. One for each girl. Two were green. One was orange. That was the fatal flaw of the day. I can't tell you how many fights erupted, and tears rolled, over use of the orange noodle. Damn that orange noodle, I thought to myself all afternoon. Here I am thinking I am taking my girls out for a nice afternoon, and the orange noodle is ruining everything. I glared at it all afternoon. And let me tell you...if the orange noodle was put down for a second by one of the girls, the other two came running for it. You cannot imagine how insane I looked, holding a giant Styrofoam stick almost as tall as me, losing it in front of a lake full of strangers.
But it doesn't stop at water toys. Heaven forbid I give an extra strawberry, or one two many chips, to one of them, there is hell to pay. They eye up how much juice I have poured to ensure they all have the same. Cake must be sliced with incredible precision, as not to upset the careful balance of happiness and home.
I have my limits...believe me. If I take one kid out with me running errands, and the rest stay home with David, and we get a Rita's out while we are running around, I tune out the complaints that I hear the moment we walk in the door with the evidence of where we have been. Lately, with all the summer time togetherness we have been having, when questioned "why did Molly get more cherries than me", I simply shoot back "Because I love Molly more". They get it. Sarcasm is part of our daily dialogue here, so it doesn't escape them.
Try as I may, survival of the fittest seems to be hard wired into them, as it is in all of us. I just never knew it would be in the same pack. Here we are, living together as a family, in our small house, sharing one, yes one, bathroom, and I sort of assumed we would all be one another's biggest fans, and supporters. For the most part we are, don't get me wrong. But some days, I realize, that despite my best parenting, and try as I may, it is simply out of my hands.
File that under butterfly kisses, dandelion wishes, and other mother hood malarkey.