Roxane Salonen, The Forum
Published Tuesday, November 18, 2008/reprinted with permission
‘My kids never fought,” the nice lady in the whirlpool said. “Could it be you’ve just forgotten?” I challenged. “Selective memory?” She gently insisted her two sons and daughter had grown up in perfect harmony.
I believe my own children would fight over a piece of air if it came to their attention. “I saw it first!” “Well I’m closest to it.” “I’m oldest. That means I knew about it first.” (Full-blown ruckus, begins … now!)
When our third child was an infant, her two older siblings would battle daily over who got to sit by “Baby” in the van. One day, just after “Baby” uttered her first sentence, we stood by the garage and the familiar refrain started, with “Baby” herself clamoring loudest. “I want to sit by Baby!” she yelled, not aware she’d been the source of the conflict from the beginning. We had a good laugh, and peace came – until No. 4 arrived and the fight resumed.
We brought our oldest two, ages 5 and 7, to No. 4’s ultrasound appointment. As the technician zeroed in on the gender-identifying area on the computer screen in the dark, cramped room, I could hear shuffling of feet and arm-elbowing, followed by a loudly whispered exchange: “I’m still prayin’ for a sister.” “Too late, God’s already made up his mind!”
Let it be said that no child came into this family unwanted – until growing enough to assert themselves.
It’s true. With each child we’ve added, the decibel level of the Salonen household has risen exponentially. I’ve taken to welcoming new neighbors with a casserole and a year’s supply of earplugs.
The whirlpool lady said it’s all in the parenting, that I could have prevented this loudness. I wish she’d have been in the delivery room when my daughter, aka Screaming Tiger, was born.
Can I be hopeful enough to believe some sibling rivalry now is helping our kids to prepare for the real conflict they’ll experience later?
I’ll gladly own up to my part in this. Though most of our five kids seem to have arrived with strong vocal chords and wills, as their parents, we need to help them channel their reactions in a reasonable manner. We’re all works in progress.
Thankfully, this boisterous life comes with a few perks. Along with its bountiful passion, our family claims an abundance of creativity and deeply held convictions I wouldn’t want to see disappear anytime soon.
So I’ll continue working on helping temper the squabbling. In the meantime, I can’t help but fantasize about the day our children transform their shrieking into careers as professional opera singers