Rug burn, the musical

By Mir
July 10, 2007

Feel free to tell me that your children torment each other as much as mine do, because it will make me feel better and also greatly lessen the chances of my grabbing one in each hand and banging their heads together.

Oh, you know I love my kids, and I truly believe them to be Good Kids and Nice Kids and for the most part they really do play well together. But apparently the displacement of being in a new house in a new state is carte blanche to ANNOY THE EVERYLOVING CRAP out of your sibling while also running to Mama to complain every third second or so.

Needless to say, this is completely awesome. Now I don’t even have to decide which I like better, the endless bickering or the constant tattling. I AM SO LUCKY!

So today when we were getting ready to go outside and swim (in our poooooooool!) and Chickadee insisted that I take a look at her back, I was surprised to behold two oval areas just under her shoulderblades which appeared to be abraded.

“What happened here?” I asked.

“Monkey dragged me across the carpet,” she replied. “I think it’s rug burn. It hurts.”

Well, then. Now, I suppose I should’ve been horrified, but here’s what went through my brain:

1) I wonder what in the world she was doing to him or keeping from him or saying to him that made him do that.
2) I wonder what horrible thing she’d just done that she didn’t feel the need to come tell on him immediately, because the only thing that would’ve stopped her would’ve been fear of retribution.
3) I wonder if this nasty rug burn will dissuade her from doing whatever it was that earned her that in the future.

There probably would’ve been more, but then I sprayed some sunscreen on the afflicted area while coating us all head to toe in SPF 7000 and she started screaming and then I felt like maybe I should at least pretend to be a solicitous mother. (Me: Eh, you’re fine. Go jump in the pool.)

Today was our first day flying solo for a significant portion of it; Otto had to go in to his office for meetings, so it was just the three of us for the first time in a while. We ate lunch out in the gazebo/casino and Monkey referred to it as the casebo (rhymes with placebo!) and Chickadee tried to make fun of him, but when she saw how tickled I was by it, she started calling it that, too. After lunch we went in the pool and all got cramps and drowned because we didn’t wait half an hour.

Oh wait, that’s not it.

No, after lunch we went in the pool and they vied for my attention and held races and tormented each other for losing. I was throwing diving sticks for them and accidentally threw two into the deep end; this prompted Chickadee to swear that she could never get them, so I offered to teach her how to dive.

Within five minutes she was diving (slowly, carefully, but diving nonetheless) from the side of the pool and darting down eight feet to grab the diving sticks. I was beside myself with pride because I didn’t manage to learn to dive until I was a teenager and my 9-year-old had just mastered it almost immediately.

And it was another few minutes before she started with the “Gee, Monkey, you won’t even swim in the deep end and I JUST LEARNED HOW TO DIVE” comments.

But here’s where that sort of aggravation comes in handy: Suddenly Monkey—sweet, cautious Monkey—wanted to work on swimming in the deep end. And by the time the dark clouds started rolling in he’d swum multiple laps and she’d done another dozen dives and all was well.

Until they got on the phone with their dad tonight. Monkey came flying down the stairs in indignation to report that “Chickie told Daddy about me swimming in the deep end and that was MY NEWS!” I suggested he tell Daddy about dragging the skin off of his sister’s back, but he wasn’t buying it.

Someday we’ll all look back on these things and laugh. Or at least someday Monkey will be big enough to pound on Chickadee, and boy will she deserve it by then.


  1. Karen@FamilyBriefs

    This was too funny – we had rug burns JUST LIKE THOSE YOU DESCRIBED on my oldest boy last week. Before they finally healed, it looked like some kind of major skin lesion that might be contagious – scary! They’re gone now – and I still don’t know what he did to deserve it (but I know he did :)

  2. Barb Cooper

    Oh, Mir, the way you write it, it’s like some charming family silliness. I have a hard time imagining YOUR head spinning around and you yelling that you JUST DON’T EVEN CARE: WORK IT OUT AMONG YOURSELVES! which is my typical reaction.

  3. Rachel May

    LOL… my little brother (8 years younger than I am) is now four or five inches taller than I am and outweighs me by at least 75 pounds. Yeah. Payback’s a witch. He likes to bear-hug me and not let go!!! I’ve been known to tattle to our mom in the last couple of months.

    She still refuses to settle our arguments. Sheesh.

  4. Susan

    You and I had the same day! Charlie came in this afternoon to announce that Henry had punched him and Henry came in right behind him and said, “If I punched him, how come he’s not crying? And how come there are no MARKS on him?” and instead of getting to the bottom of it, I said, “Meh, let’s go swimming.”

    Chlorine will cure whatever ails you.

  5. becky

    what? it’s summertime. shouldn’t your livin’ be easy? *ducks & runs*

  6. Lady M

    Ha! You daring people, going swimming right after you’ve eaten!

    Have you read the Lemony Snicket books? In one of the early episodes, several characters come to disastrous ends because they don’t wait thirty minutes after lunch, and instead proceed to go into the lake. Cramps? Not at all. I don’t want to leave a spoiler here in case it ruins it for someone, but let me know if you want to know what happens.

  7. Betsy

    My oldest is 14. His little sister is 9. I foolishly thought that we’d skip sibling rivalry ’cause they were too far apart.

    I was wrong, wrong, WRONG. We just delayed it, is all – and now, it’s stronger. More powerful. Able to (yeah, yeah, you get the picture.)

    I have also gotten way too jaded. As in ‘is anyone bleeding? Are there broken bones? Then I don’t want to hear about it….la la la LA..!’

    Although I’m starting to worry that I’ve been a bit too relaxed about it. See, my daughter decided to compare her absent brother (he’s been gone for two weeks now) to, um, Hitler. So I’m trying to figure out just what’s the basis for comparison – is it the ‘they’re both really mean people’ or is she really afraid for her life?

    More importantly, will I have to start hiring an outside babysitter when he comes home…?

  8. Anna

    Monkey was framed or more likely experience sibling rivalry entrapment. But still, Chickadee is my hero!

  9. Angel

    Oh yeah, my kids love each other like crazy, but then they go all sibling berzerkers and then *I’m* crazy.

    I had a headache today and the kids asked if they could do something together (I forget what). I said no, because in 5 minutes they’d be squabbling and I would have to run away.

    My daughter looked at me dead serious and said “No we wouldn’t.” Like “Mother, I’m shocked, how could you even think that???”

    OH MY GOD. The sun has melted her brain for sure.

  10. carolyn

    Mine used to fight constantly. Now, at 14 and 11, they are in different worlds, so they don’t fight as much, but it is a little sad, the “being in different worlds” thing. The not fighting thing is heaven!

  11. StephLove

    My oldest is 14. His little sister is 9. I foolishly thought that we’d skip sibling rivalry ’cause they were too far apart.>>

    Oh, don’t say that! Mine are 5 years apart. The boy is 6; the girl is 15 months.

  12. Sara

    At our house the third child is the s**t disturber. If one of the other three is squawking, chances are good that he’s involved in some way. And he is apt to come show me some war wound ala Chickadee and I tend to think your exact same responses. Usually (in the summer anyway) I end the experience with “let’s go swimming!” the same way you do. But alas, horror of horrors! The neighborhood pool is broken and has been for a week and there is no other information than that posted on it’s door. No sign of repair trucks, no clue as to when it might be up and running again. And now, my response to the sibling wars is to offer some other activity/game/option while surreptitiously glancing at the wine rack and wondering if 10 a.m. is too early to have a glass.
    Pray for me…

  13. Kimberly

    You mean she doesn’t deserve it now?

    I love Chickadee as much as anyone (more than most, possibly, seeing s her soul sister lives in my house), but speaking for younger siblings everywhere, I say she deserves it now :)

    Maybe Monkey will learn the art of the sneak attack soon.

  14. Jenny

    Growing up, my sister and I eschewed physical torment for psychological torment. Now that we’re both adults, we still do it from time to time when we’re back home for something. All it takes is a look with slightly narrowed eyes from one for the other of us to be all, “What? WHAT? OH MY GOD, STOP. WHATEVER IT IS, I DIDN’T DO IT.”

  15. Megan

    I got a call just yesterday morning while at work so Child 1 could tattle on Child 2. The really fun bit is when I’m asking 1 (or 2) to tell me what THEY did – not the other one, and I refuse to hear “Child Name, she/he, his/her, brother/sister” in your reply. Makes ’em really stutter. The positive thing is they’re now old enough that after only a minute or two I eventually get a confession of guilt. The bad thing? Well… yes they are in their teens… just think of the years of joy ahead of you! Anyone know how to make ’em listen when I tell them I really and for true don’t care?

  16. Randi

    That’s great that they can both swim so well! I’m always scared to death to allow my 6 year old and 3 year old near the water!

  17. The Other Leanne

    After I flunked swimming lessons, it was only when we moved to a place with a pool that I actually figured out how to swim and float…and if you’re going to live in proximity to deep water (and not wait ONE HOUR after eating to swim), it is essential to know how to save yourself! Good for brave Chickadee and Monkey!

  18. Niki

    Oh, trust me, my 2 girls live for nothing but to torment their sister. Sister #1 will remark on something said, and #2 will go “haha!” Then #1 comes back with “well at least I can drive” or some thing else she’s “allowed” to do because she’s older, and #2 pouts. Then they beat on each other for a while. They love to stand in their bedroom doors (which meet in a corner) and egg each other on until Mom yells. Pushing buttons is definitely their specialty.

  19. ikate

    “Or at least someday Monkey will be big enough to pound on Chickadee” That cracks me up!

    I’m the youngest of 3 and my mom used to send us all to the basement/playroom and tell us “I don’t want to hear about it unless someone is bleeding!”

  20. Nancy R

    A few months ago our oldest was pulling the younger two around on the floor by their feet – for fun (lots of giggling from all) – and both of them wound up with rug burn on their backs.

  21. pickel

    I currently have a four year old and we are adopting our second child, another boy, from Guatemala. I can’t wait for him to come home so the four year old stops picking on me! He loves to play “go slap mama’s butt”, a nice little game his papa taught him!

  22. Amy-Go

    When I left for college my brother was still two inches shorter than me and puny enough that I could tackle him easily. When I came home for the first time a scant three months later he was a head taller than me and could throw me across a room. I belive my reaction to seeing him that first time was something akin to “Good LORD!” To which he responded “paybacks, baby.” And he can still beat the crap out of me! Use this as a cautionary tale for Chickie. :)

  23. Sheila

    How did our parents raise us and stay (mostly) sane? I am OUT OF MY MIND with the bickering. As we do not have a pool to throw the kids into, I invite them to wash the windows when the arguing gets bad. By rights, I should have some sparkling windows, but no. They slop around them a bit, leaving drip marks and fingerprints. So then I have that to remind me of our happy, happy summer days. Someone shoot me.

  24. Woman with Kids

    Ah, sounds just like home. I got urgent phone calls on my cellphone on the ride home last night, each boy trying outdo the other in the Tattling Olympics.

  25. jenn

    Much like Amy-go and Chickie, I was the big bad older sister for a time. Then my brother started playing football. I’ll never forget the day he tackled me wearing ALL his gear, me lying on the floor, my mother’s voice saying, “I told you someday he’d be bigger than you.”

    Tell Chickie psychological torment is far more rewarding and leaves deeper scars. ;)

  26. Heidi

    With all the swimmin’ and divin’, I bet they’re sleepin’ like bricks at night…

  27. Kira

    Not long ago a woman I know, who is expecting her fourth son (!) asked me, hesitantly, how I handle…um…SQUABBLING. I gave her my best shocked look and reached out to pet the hair of the nearest boy and said gently, “Oh, well. In OUR house we emphasize RESPECT and KINDNESS.”
    So. It may have been funny at the time (and OH IT WAS), but I think Karma is kicking my butt all around the summer, thanks.

  28. ScottsdaleGirl

    OH I remember the turning point of me and my little bro’s relationship. It was when I was 14 and he was 10. He had dumped all my little perfume bottles all over my bed and I went at him with my fist to knock him upside the head and he ducked and hit me square in the newly budding left breast with a brush, hard. That was so not fun. I let mom kick his ass after that incident.

  29. Grete

    It sounds like Chickadee and Monkey have a similar age situation as my younger brother and I… I stopped bugging him as much when I was in 8th grade: I’d annoyed him to the point that he pinned me to the ground, and then my girlfriend walked in to see it. I was thoroughly embarrassed and knew at that moment that I could no longer take on my “little” brother.

  30. Therese

    Oh, it gets better when they’re older. My older two sons, ages 23 and 18, got into a fistfight the other week. The youngest who is 16 was trying to break it up, when someone pulled him out of it. Actually, baby could have kicked both of their behinds. Then, an hour later, they’re at it again. I personally promised I’d get involved and kick both their a**es if they started again. That worked best, because all the laughter started at that point.

  31. Cele

    Oh, my story is exactly like Amy-go and Jen’s and my brother loved to get me back, I just don’t remember being that mean to him.

  32. Heidi

    Sounds like all of the fun I am having in my house! I had to stop reading your post to break up a couple screaming matches between my three, loving children. To think we are getting ready to drive to the Grand Canyon from Indiana. Thanks for your sharing your stories, it’s nice to know we are all not alone! ~Heidi

  33. Katie

    My two boys (2.5 years apart, ages 6 and 4) are exactly like this. While they can be great friends, playing can quickly degenerate into fisticuffs in the blink of an eye. Asking or yelling at them to stop has no effect. I have to physically get between them, and they are getting big enough that I am starting to fear for my own wellbeing. I grabbed one by the shirt the other day to stop him from chasing the other down, and he got upset because the shirt pulled at his neck, “choking” him. Perhaps if he had stopped the multiple times I asked him that wouldn’t have happened. I’m waiting for it to sink in but I think I might be put up in the nursing home before that happens!

  34. MMM

    OH MY! My kids are making me insane, and I can’t send them back to school next month because I HOMESCHOOL! GAH! I love it and them, but dear heavens, the bigger one couldn’t be any meaner to the little one if she tried. I keep thinking one day they will hate each other because the little one will ignore the big one and hate her for her mean streak, and the big one will hate the little one because we parents are her voice and she was ALWAYS in trouble!

  35. Em

    Right off the bat I was confused. You mean banging their heads together isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing???

  36. Kristen

    I know they are only 2 years old and 5 months old but I am so waiting for The Baby to kick The Boy’s ass. There is only so much poking and prodding that one infant should have to stand.

    So you are saying it doesn’t get any better with age?

  37. ishouldbeworking

    On the weekends, Leo’s & my kids usually have one day that’s good, and one day when they drive us abso-freakin-lutely crazy! They are 13,11,10 and 8 and love to push each other’s and our buttons! That is, until one of us tells them to go get shovels and pick up dog poop in the back yard.

  38. BOSSY

    Bossy had her two kids seven years apart basically to hedge against them even, um, knowing each other.

  39. Karly

    The tattling is just beginning for me. My 2 year old daughter has started mimicking her brother by saying “Oh bubba, I’m telling!” Its quite funny coming from a two year old, but only because she has no idea what that means and therefore never actually tells on him for anything. :)

  40. Carol

    My response to tattling is the same as Betsy’s — “Is anyone bleeding? Are there broken bones? DOES ANYONE NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL?!” I say this about oh, 50 times a day. Think its working?

    Coincidentally, I did have a nice chat w/ my 7 year old about how he treats his siblings and a little thing called karma. He’s a whole new kid!

    Good luck, Mir!!

  41. MomCat

    Being a middle child, I feel the whole process of childhood bickering/tattling/taunting was quite useful. It prepared me for neighbors who backstab and fights with my husband. It also prepared me for the responsiblity of having an only child, for whom I have to be mother AND big sister, though I am a lot nicer to her than I was to my own sister. Every child needs someone to torment them incessantly. It builds character. :D

  42. Ladanea

    Kids are amazing! Between potentially getting themselves killed and potentially killing each other, it’s a wonder anyone with siblings lives to adulthood.

  43. She-Ra

    Oh the head banging… My mom did it to my brother and I only once and I still remember it very clearly. It hurt big time!

    I also remember when I learned that kicking a guy in the nuts would hurt him. So I kicked my brother one day. Mom found out and it didn’t happen again. Darn.

    He is bigger than me now but we live far apart so no more fighting.

  44. HamIam

    Oh Mir, you are cracking me up on this one:
    and then I felt like maybe I should at least pretend to be a solicitous mother!

    I have recently nominated you for an award (but it seems to me more like a meme than a real award – nevertheless, I think you ROCK)

  45. angie

    As an older sister, we NEVER deserve the so-called retribution of a big teenage little brother. They are like sub-human when they become teenagers, by the way.

  46. nan

    My kids spent the last month of the school term hating each other, and I borrowed a book called “siblings without rivalry” which you have to read! It gets mom off the hook. Now that my extra boy is here, and having sibling rivalry with my youngest, I am using the same technique.

  47. nan

    On another note, my eldest and his cousin have always fought. I mean, now that they are too big to separate, we have bloody noses every summer. The other day Michael came and said (aggrieved) “aunty nan, Chas is… ” I said “Michael, I want you to go beat up Chas right now. Get it out of your system so we can all relax.” he stared. “but but aunty…” “I don’t want to KNOW! Go and fight!” I turned back to the dishes, and 5 minutes later glanced down to the beach. They were busy at opposite ends of the beach, and have avoided each other since. They are evenly matched, or I wouldn’t have done this. This was not in any book, and will probably cause lasting trauma… But heck, it worked!

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest