Cute for Darren (now 17), Natalie, 47, thought when she was pregnant again with a boy, Maurice (now 15). But her sons do not play and hurt together. exactly the contrary! “My husband and I have thought about living separately, each one taking a child with us.”
Natalie: “I just got back from my lunch break at work when my eldest son Darren, 14 at the time, was on the phone with a beeping sound. : “I think you should take Maurice to the doctor.” I could tell by his voice that she was serious. Without asking what was going on, I grabbed my things and went home in a throbbing. On the floor in the living room I found Maurice, white dead, kneeling in position Abnormality on the side of his knee.
Since they were young children, I dread this moment, the moment one would bump into each other in the hospital. Or it may affect the other one permanently. Darren stood silently at the entrance. Without asking him anything, I gave him an angry look, called the GP to signal the emergency room that we were coming, and took the shock of both boys that we were going to talk about this tonight.”
Busier and more primitive
The “boys will be boys” reaction to family, friends, and colleagues when I told Darren and Morris’ early elementary school years that my sons were literally squabbling with each other. Or that the construction of a Lego castle usually ends with a nosebleed or a tooth through the lip. I understood the reaction: boys are often more preoccupied and primitive in their behavior than girls. But with us, the battle took very fierce forms almost every day.
When I was pregnant again after over a year and a half of Darren and we were going to have another son, I felt like a queen. With Morris in my stomach, I imagined how soon my children would be playing soccer in the park, or playing with dolls for all that I care about, and plotting a gruesome mischief together. But from day one, Darren, who was two at the time, found it complicated, a baby at home who wanted attention too.
The first time I caught him fiercely toward his brother, Morris was only a week old. My husband Roel had left for work, and while Maurice slept in the crib next to my bed after feeding, Darren watched a movie in our bedroom. I waited for the midwife to come and only pulled out a laundromat ten paces away. When I entered the bedroom, Darren pressed the sheet Maurice was sleeping under tightly to his chest and pushed it. It looked so good that I was shocked. “It’s not allowed, Dar, it hurts,” she faked curtly. At the same time I called myself to ask: do not panic. He was 2.5 years old and completely unaware of the seriousness of his actions. But she wasn’t good with me.”
arguing and bullying
“As Morris got older and started playing more and more independently, Darren’s behavior became more bleak. Whenever he expected Morris to want to play a particular toy, he quickly grabbed it first. Or he pulled toys out of Morris’ hands, hit him, or scared him. On the contrary, he grabbed it first. , from the age of three, Maurice was not very friendly with his brother either. At times he would scream out of nowhere and imagine that his brother had beaten him. I don’t know if in reaction to Darren’s behavior that Maurice had been fighting his whole life or if he would have acted like this if He was the oldest. On the other hand, wasn’t he a part of it too? Arguing is good, kids learn how to handle conflicts. Didn’t I look for it too much? Children under eight can’t put themselves in another position well yet, so maybe arguing wasn’t And “bullying” is intentional.
I knew my intuition better: things didn’t get along fundamentally between the boys from the moment Maurice was born. And as they get older, I realize that probably will never happen. I had to adjust my expectations. These two best friends who played mischief together will not have children into our family; I can count Naomi as no more than a truce. I looked jealously at my sister, who has two daughters with whom there was no crossword. And for friends who spent whole afternoons sipping on a drink because their kids were having fun with each other. Not that it was just a war in our house, but the boys didn’t have a good time together.”
During a camping vacation in France, Roel and I thought for a moment that the tide would turn. The boys were now ten and eight years old and had been playing nonstop for days without arguing. They spent whole days in the pool, playing soccer with camping friends and just enjoying themselves. In the evening, they were simply too tired to argue, we joked to each other, when they went to sleep without grumbling and the peace for us continued unabated. Will harmonious times come after that? Even on the fifth day of vacation, I was stunned by a thunderous rumble in the canopy, followed by a hysterical cry from Darren. Morris hit him in the face with a folding chair. Darren had a thick lip and a bump on his head. It didn’t work out for the rest of the holiday. The boys just had to look at each other to argue. Everything was a reason to fight. Who should wash the dishes? Who was allowed to swing by the tent. Who was allowed to take football? It was driving me crazy. I concluded that this was no longer possible, and called a teacher when I got home.
Of course I had mentioned many quarrels and fights between my children. For example, with teachers. But they did not notice any problematic behavior. As long as the boys were not together, they acted like little angels. I talked about it with the doctor. But he euphemistically called my descriptions “monkey love.” Outside of interacting with each other, Darren and Morris have also developed into gentle, intelligent, and sociable men. They had many friends, did well in school and acted like real team players in their soccer teams. ‘Nice guests’ was the verdict everywhere.
“The teacher was the first to take my story seriously after a summer camping. From separate conversations with the kids, I concluded that both Darren and Morris were always on edge, always afraid of the other’s criticism. Something I knew deep down, but didn’t want to hear. Tests IQ tests for ADHD and then social and emotional studies. After that, she couldn’t help but conclude one thing: A family therapist was needed. There was simply no clinical reason for the hatred among the children.
Video recordings of the dynamics entered the house. family constellations. After a year and a half of accidental therapy, it resulted in a lot of educational insight for Roel and I, and it turned out that with each contact between the kids, we actually assumed there was a brawl approaching. But the bond between our children did not get warmer. However, the physical violence largely receded when they learned how to channel their negative emotions. and that they did not have to visit each other all the time; Playing alone, or with their friends, was fine too. The result: if one was in the basement, the other was usually upstairs. The only real conversations that happened were during dinner under the guidance of Roel and I.”
The fight on the grave
“Of course it was not all so gloomy in the family rows. At first glance we were working as an average family. At Christmas, the boys could really enjoy a civilized gourmet meal, without spoons flying over the table. We went to the movies together, Darren and Maurice were sitting next to each other and neither They argue about popcorn. We walked through the woods on Sundays with the dog, without the boys turning his stick into a weapon to fight the other. But it was seldom really comfortable. Unnoticed, Rowell and I became masters in choosing the activities in which the opportunity for discussion was the smallest. Where There was no competition and the boys were not very close to each other.Then we lived most of the time with our buttocks pressed, waiting for the flames to erupt again.
I had nightmares about reports to the youth welfare center and every day wondered if I was doing poorly as a mother. If not, the teacher and psychologist ruled happily. We simply had to deal with two characters at home who simply collided and could do some ‘educational’. The highest feat of the moment was that they put up with each other – and who knew how their bond would develop as they got older. “Well, they’re still fighting over our graves,” Ruel sneered regularly. However, we continued to draw hope from every fun moment between the boys. Even if this moment meant at most everyone sat on one end of the sofa, the dog was neutral between them.”
hello sweet good
“And now there was that patella incident—which ultimately turned out to be the result of a clumsy affair with a broken phone charger. That evening I had a family get-together with Maurice in a brace. I could no longer tolerate aggression at home. If the boys couldn’t keep their hands to themselves, they had to They feel the consequences differently. We discussed with Ruel more than once the option to continue a Latin relationship. Not because we wanted to, but for the sake of the children. Perhaps it would bring peace in the tent if the boys lived apart. We almost didn’t dare think about it, but it’s time to make choices. On the table.
“ Divorce? ”, the boys cried in unison when I told them I saw no other way to bring peace and above all safety in the house. ‘Not us,’ Roel answered dryly, ‘not you,’ and I could hear the emotion in his voice. The unimaginable happened: Darren and Morris broke into uncontrollable tears. They did not want to part at all, they cried in unison, they were sure to fix their lives. Royle and I were stunned. How can they hold themselves back now? What if you had dropped that bomb a few years ago? That could have saved us years of trouble. And damn: the situation has improved.
Darren and Maurice are still not friends, but they tolerate each other – just as the psychologist predicted. Since Darren started high school last year and the boys don’t see each other at school, they only communicate during dinner. Sometimes I notice them having fun, and Maurice recently suggested that the four of us go to Catan. It was very comfortable. With great care, Royle and I wish they were just hot kids, and boys got along a lot with the guys. I have learned to lower my expectations, and I am already resting in peace.”
Text: Gorend Banner. All names have been changed for privacy reasons and the real names are known to the editors.
Photo: Getty Images
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