Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fighters, To Your Corners...

We are sliding head-long into Christmas season with a mighty hope that there's something soft when we land. We, as are the rest of the world it seems, running seventy different directions with the time and capability of only running sixty. But, hey, what's ten more things to do?

School is at the fevered pitch it hits right before an extended break. The atmosphere is electric and the restlessness is palpable.

Teachers are trying to teach. But this is when it becomes necessary to rope the children back in a thousand times per class period; Projects are being assigned just to give the kids a different way to take in information.

We are all tired.

Cheerleading is still something Emma and Amy enjoy immensely. But we are all weary of the time away from home and any other activities we would like to enjoy in its place.

Dark comes sooner. Light comes later. Cold air makes beds cocoons from which we dare not emerge until the very last second necessary.

Last night all of this culminated into the biggest fight I have ever seen my daughters have with each other. It started as something as small as an accidental bump from one to the other. The fight gathered steam like a slow rolling wave. Until finally, it erupted into something along the lines of a category five storm.

Both were crying, hitting, kicking, clawing, pulling hair, screaming and generally looking like the stereotypical "cat fight." I was a little frightened to get involved for fear of my own safety.

However, Keith does not deter that easily, unfortunately for him. He tried to referee a little and found very quickly that it was in his best interest to stay completely clear of the area.

Amy is a very outwardly emotional person. She is completely transparent and doesn't even ever try to hide her feelings or what she is thinking. It is not uncommon for her to tell adults they are wrong (and they usually are, indeed, when she tells them), stomp her feet in anger, or shriek (literally) with laughter. She lives in the moment, and is able to get angry/sad and then simmer down quickly.

Emma is thoughtful, quiet and generally happy and optimistic. If you tell her what's wrong, she'll tell you what's right. She may get irritated at times, but she has one of the longest fuses I have ever seen a person have. She is polite and incredibly sensitive to the other person's feelings. She is usually the "peace keeper" between Keith and Amy, ensuring they don't kill each other during their famous fights.

Last night, Amy found the end of Emma's fuse. Emma was seething at her sister. Rage rolled off of her like hot rays from the sun.

Amy had pushed and pushed and pushed until Emma finally snapped. And, unbelievably, Amy never saw it coming.

When Emma came at Amy, Amy's first reaction was a light laughter. She thought it was a game. Then Amy registered shock. Emma was playing no game. Emma was mad.

Amy's a scrappy little thing. So after shaking off the initial shock, her fight or flight response was: fight!

Keith and I barely could register the chaos, noise and body parts in the fight that ensued. After a moment of stunned paralysis, I moved.

"Girls!" I shouted above their voices, "Stop right now! Emma over there. Amy over here."

The girls moved away from each other, never taking their eyes off one another. They moved over to the spots I had pointed out and glared at each other like boxers in the ring between the bells.

I herded them to the car, making sure not to allow them to get within reaching distance of each other. And got them settled in far away from each other.

The verbal bickering started as soon as I turned the engine over.

"Stop!" I demanded. "No talking."

The car ride to cheer was quiet, but you could still feel the anger in the air. All I kept thinking is, I am glad they are not on the same squad!

Finally, I heard Amy in the back say quietly, "I'm sorry, Emma."

Emma didn't even acknowledge Amy.

Amy tried again, "Emma, I said I'm sorry."

Still nothing from Emma.

"Emma!" Amy whined.

"Girls!" I said, while trying to watch the road. "Emma, I know you are very angry right now. It is okay to be angry. But you need to tell Amy you hear what she's saying. It doesn't mean you have to not be angry with her. But you need to tell her, 'Amy, thank you for your apology. I'm really mad right now. Please give me some time to cool down, then we'll talk.' Okay?"

"Okay," Emma replied.

"Amy, I understand you are sorry, but you need to give Emma a little space. You really hurt her feelings and made her mad. She still loves you, but she needs to cool off a little before she talks with you. Okay?"

"Yes, ma'am," Amy said.

We went back to being silent for the few minutes we had before we got to the gym. When we pulled up, the girls jumped out and picked up a chatty conversation that gave no hint that there had ever even been a disagreement just moments before.

I have never had a sister, so this dynamic is a little new for me. I'm grateful they have each other, and I know they will share that special bond that close sisters share.

But they are six and nine years old. I hope we can find a way for them to fight (as I know they will) that involves a little less blood, sweat and tears. I know we will have PLENTY of opportunities to "work on it-" particularly with those teenaged years looming largely ahead.

But my hope and prayer would be that, in spite of and because of, all that they will go through, that ultimately, they will be friends. And I do believe that will happen. I just hope we all live through it...

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