The argument began, as so many arguments begin in our house, with one of our daughters accusing the other one of not sharing something, and the other one then whining about the first one taking something from her and then someone taking something from someone else and then a bunch of shouting and crying and by the time the smoke has cleared I was wondering why here, in 2018, we don’t yet have time machines so I can go back to 1992 and the only arguments that mattered involved whether I, and the rest of us foreigners teaching English in Japan, should stay out all night at either Tramp’s or Sam and Dave II, two of the most-popular spots for 20-something-year-old ex-pats in Osaka to spend a Saturday night killing our livers on very cheap Japanese draft beer.
Yeah, it was that kind of argument.
And like a lot of the arguments that kids have, it was one that defied any kind of logic. But, as parents for nearly a decade now, my wife and I have learned that logic can usually be thrown out the window when it comes to a lot of the reasons your kids have for doing the things they do. Such as why our daughters decided to start brawling over a box of Legos that neither of them had even mentioned, much less thought about or made any attempt to play with for the last six months.
Actually, let me correct myself. I’m certain that the mass of Danish-created molded plastic pieces that was now the center of Maddo and Little Sis’ universe hadn’t entered their consciousness in a year. Hell, a year-and-a half might have passed since either kid thought of, or even uttered the word, “Lego”. Like many kids, mine get attracted to various fads (fidget spinners, Hatchimals and, God help us, slime) quicker than a bee can find a Tootsie Pop in my hand. (And they always do.) I’d like to say toys come and go, but around our house, they just come and come and come and never leave.
And because of that, things get piled up in boxes, corners and storage bins in just about every available space. After a while, I start to think about getting rid of some of this clutter and I begin mapping out a strategy to make things disappear. But, the only thing that disappears is my hopes of ever having a junk-free house as long as I am legally responsible for my kids.
That’s because these adorable little girls have some kind of Jedi mind power that tells them exactly when Daddy is about to throw something of theirs out. And it is right then when they figure it’s a good time to start playing with that something again. And they play with it on every possible right-in-the-middle-of-everything-else surface in our house.
Which is how we got to the Lego chaos covering our living room coffee table and the attendant insane argument between Maddo and Little Sis. This brawl, naturally, occurred on a weekday morning as my wife and I were trying to get ready for work, and get the girls fed, clothed and off to school. So, it was perfect timing on the part of the girls.
Maddo had created some kind of Lego neighborhood that, for some reason, required her to need every single woman/girl Lego character. It didn’t matter if she was a scrubwoman, an astronaut or a princess; if she was a she, well, then Maddo had to have her.
And because Little Sis is who she is, the kid decided that she needed “just one” of Maddo’s Lego girls and reached over to grab one from Maddo’s collection.
You can probably guess how Maddo reacted to this.
It was loud, whiny, angry and had it happened in public, I would have wanted to hide and slam my head in a door. Being that all of this happened at home, had I tried to hide, the girls would have just barged in and found me wherever I was anyway, probably considering which door to slam my head in.
It was astounding. I have seen my kids fight over anything and everything, with most of the arguments having no basis at all in logic or common sense. But this, one, over ONE LEGO, which, again, neither girl had even given one whiff of interest to for nearly a year, might just be the new No. 1 chart-topping Kid Argument of all time. For a moment, that Lego was worth a level of crying, stomping around, whining and name-calling that I can only imagine will be played out again years from now in either obscenely expensive rounds of psychological therapy, or in whatever public complaining forum eventually replaces Twitter.
But, like the weather around the Bay Area, if you want your kids’ relationship with each other to change, all you have to do is wait about five minutes.
Where my daughters had just been fighting like they were marking the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive, they soon found peace via the common desire to watch the movie “Coco” on Netflix. It didn’t matter to me that TV had brought the girls together. It wouldn’t have mattered to me if a TV show about the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive had brought the girls together. There was calm, and, for the moment, two siblings who behaved the way every parent hopes his or her kids will act during most of their waking hours:
There was quiet.