The Battle of the Leggings

May 3, 2010

Last week, when the girls got off the airplane after their visit with their father, the Writer-Dude and I took our usual step back to look at the girls from that one-week vantage point.  Have they grown?  Do they look happy?  Have they been crying?  Have they been eating?  Have they been eating nothing but ice cream?

And I found a new question I have to check on:  Have they been fighting to the point of leaving marks on one another?

I was talking to S~ and noticed some … cuts.  On her arm.  Cuts with little pieces of skin all around them.  The sight of them brought me back 25 years to my own pre-teen years.   I said, “who scratched you?!!?”  Knowing that the answer was that blond girl standing 2 feet away talking to the Writer-Dude.  S~ tried to cover th evidence and shrugged it off.  But I pushed.  I asked L~ “what did you do?”  and she went instantly to the spit and sputter and the “butshepunchedme,” and had to show off a bruise to prove it.

A bruise whose origins I am quite suspicious of.

You know how when kids are small, and they figure out that if they suck on their arms (or other skin … but where else can they reach, really?), they can make a little red spot?  i.e., they give themselves hickeys?  Yeah.  That’s what L~ seemed to have.  A self-inflicted hickey.  She said it was a “bruise” because ‘lem elbowed her “over and over!”  and of course, “it really hurt!”

I’d been pretty content all throughout this parenting gig in the knowledge that while my girls bicker, they don’t get physical with each other.  I suppose that contentment is now gone.

It was funny how those scratch marks were so familiar.   Because I had sported them on my own arm many a time from my younger sister, and she may have had some herself (you know, from me).  They aren’t “scratches,” necessarily, but rather claw-marks.  Where nails dig in, and don’t let go until ripped off, probably with a shove or a kick or a punch (or an elbow).

Unacceptable, of course.

For the entire next week, a battle raged on.  It was all about the leggings.

Around the new year, we had an event that required semi-dressy clothing.  L~ didn’t have a thing to wear because she’d grown considerably since the last time she liked or needed a dress or skirt.  So we went shopping.  We found a cute dress, but it was on the shorter side and it was winter.  So we bought leggings to go underneath.

Four months later, and the dress hasn’t been worn a second time (although she looked adorable), and neither have the leggings.  S~ has in the same four months decided that she likes some of the cute short skirts that are currently in style, and we’ve bought a few.  Because she also is not interested in being anywhere close to naked, she needed leggings under her skirts.  And the first time I saw her in her new skirts, the leggings were on.  L~ saw her, too, and said nothing.

Flash forward three weeks, and WD is letting me know that the girls had a show down one morning about the leggings.  L~  decided her sister had to give them back “right now,” (while she was on the way out the door, wearing the leggings), and that ‘lem had gone in her room and taken them without asking (3 weeks ago), and that she could NOT wear them, not EVER, and how DARE she.  WD did not force ‘lem to take them off, and ‘roni just had to deal.  He told them they’d revisit the issue later.

I was frustrated, because there had been so many earlier opportunities for her to protest S~’s use of the leggings.  Just the night before, S~ did a small load of laundry just so she could wear the leggings the next day.  L~ hadn’t worn the dang things since January, and was giving no indication that she had any desire to do so.

Turns out that L~ was mostly upset because her sister had gone in her room without asking, and that her sister is “mean” to her and she was generally feeling put upon.  She said she doesn’t actually care about the leggings, but that S~ cannot just go in her room whenever and take whatever she wants just because she wants to.

And so I’m struggling with how to reinforce reasonable preferences – made even more reasonable in light of S~’s frequent insistence that she’s entitled to the very privacy that her sister now demands – while not allowing for unreasonable reactions.  If I let S~ keep the damned leggings, L~ thinks I’m telling her she has carte blanche to wander in any old time and do whatever she wants.

For now – we said that they are not EVER allowed in each other’s rooms.  Not even with permission.  Because often, even when it seems like they’re the loving sisters I’ve always dreamed of producing, things deteriorate quickly.  Permission is revoked, said revocation is not immediately responded to, and cries of pain spread through the house.  So it’s just completely not allowed.

And these are the joys of motherhood.


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