Say My Name
My Forceful Valentine

Playtime at the Thunderdome

Quick! Describe the sibling relationship going on in your house right now in one word:


Now describe it in five words:


No, I am not beating my children. I personally engage in zero beatings or beating-type behavior with them. They beat on each other. 

And poke.

And pinch.

And punch.

And leg-wrestle, which is boy-speak for "We're really just kicking each other, but it's okay because SPORTS."

Over the weekend Ezra bit Noah in the middle of Target — bit him so hard that Noah had teeth marks on his arm through his winter coat. 

As far as I can tell, he bit Noah simply because he'd been pretending to bite Noah for awhile and that game got boring. 


They antagonize each other constantly. They demand that the other "leave me alonnnne" and then are up in each other's grill 10 seconds later, playing full-contact tug-of-war over a toy, a throw pillow, a goddamned broom

Ike only wants to play with Ezra. Ezra only wants to play with Noah. Noah only wants to play with Ike.

There is no overlap or compromise to that flowchart; only the sound of one child shrieking because an unacceptable playmate is invading his personal space, trying to get his attention, breathing on his toys, etc. 

There is always some kind of confiscated weapon on our mantel or on top of the fridge.


I DON'T KNOW WHERE THIS STUFF EVEN COMES FROM. Not that it matters, because even in the complete absence of plastic swords or lightsabers, they'll just battle with the aforementioned throw pillows and broom handles. 

Everyone gets ready for bed in shifts now, since Noah and Ezra proved to be completely incapable of going upstairs together and putting on pajamas at the same time without somebody getting hurt. Or somebody pretending to get hurt because they know Mommy's rubber-band nerves have HAD IT by 8 pm and they can get their sibling's reading-light or come-back-downstairs-for-10-minutes privileges revoked, because it is a goddamn Machiavellian Man Cave up there. 

The other night a war broke out over two empty milk containers.



Ike "rescued" these precious items from our recycling bin and they immediately became like, THE hot toy item of the century. Forget Cabbage Patch dolls and Tickle Me Elmo: Kids today are all the unrinsed, slightly dented recyclables. Please stampede accordingly.


This is what was originally going on elsewhere. It was working out as well as you might imagine, which is to say, omg, children, there is an entire house to play in and yet you are insisting on Thunderdoming it out for the same three feet of Blanket Fort. It's like you WANT to get kicked in the face or something. 


But then: A challenger appears. EMPTY MILK CONTAINERS. HOLY SHIT.


(Forgive the random extra car seat sitting in our living room. It's now stored safely away in the basement because MY CHILDREN WOULDN'T STOP FIGHTING OVER WHO GOT TO SIT IN IT.)


Anyway, yeah. There were tears. ACTUAL TEARS.

And while I know it's probably all kinds of cruel to sit there snapping pictures while your four year old sobs hysterically, allow me to remind you that my four year old was sobbing hysterically over EMPTY MILK CONTAINERS, and one day I will need these photos to settle arguments with his teenaged self, like when he's telling me that he's mature enough to take his hovercar out to Mars for the Intergalactic Planking Championships or something.

No. You once lost your shit over stuff your brother pulled out of the trash. YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID. 


(Ike was all, nice try. I am also unmoved by your misery.)




And etc. 

So that's what life is like approximately...all the time. We do get occasional moments of brotherly love — Ike might deign to hug Noah before running away, or at least manage to run away before Noah insists on grabbing him around the neck because I WILL MAKE YOU LOVE ME. I WILL CUDDLE YOU SO HARD AGAINST YOUR WILL. I'll hear Ezra shout "Don't you hurt my brother!" to an over-aggressive playmate, or give part of his dessert to someone who didn't get any, just because.

And sometimes Noah and Ezra will bond after getting sent to their room for fighting and I'll find them cuddled up together, reading a story and talking about how mean and awful I am. So that's nice too. 




it's just like this at my house with my two (age almost 5, almost 7) except there's one girl, one boy, so all the same fighting plus the unholy screeching that could be recorded and used as some evil weapon in a war to immobilize yr enemy.


You just described my life, only with 2 girls and a boy. You'd THINK the 10 year old girl could figure out some alternative to settling an argument with her 4 year old brother besides side slaps to the head and kicks to the ass, but no. And she wonders why HE comes out swinging at the slightest provocation. The eight year? She has a future career as a screamer in horror movies.


Thank God for you and your blog! I have three boys about the same age as yours and I'm so glad to hear that I'm not alone in dealing with this kind of madness. My boys recently had various meltdowns over bubble wrap. I feel ya


So nice to hear this goes on in other households, too. Our kids have been known to fight over bubbles (as in: "Don't pop those bubbles! Those are my bubbles!") and air (as in: "She's blocking my air with her head!") Current problem is when one percentage of kids likes to sing and the other does not like hearing it.


This makes me feel better. I have a 4 year old boy and a 2 year old girl and they are CONSTANTLY FIGHTING. All day long. And my boy is actually a lot nicer to his sister than she is to him. She will just randomly walk up to him and smack him in the face.

And no matter what one kid has: cars, stuffed animals, books, GARBAGE, the other one wants it and will stop at nothing to get it. Including biting.



Yup, I've got 3 also and it's non-stop fighting and hitting and "you're a poop heading" "you're a pee-pants" 24/7. Then the crying and tattling, OMG MAKE IT STOP!!!

Jess Z.

Yep, my life too...except I only have 2, not 3, but the fighting...omg. Never ends.



Check out "Siblings Without Rivalry" -- great book. I'm reading it in preparation, as my baby is just about ready to start moving around and destroy her big brother's toys.


Yup. I feel you. Three boys here too, 6.5, 2.5 and 9.5months. The youngest has yet to join in the fray of madness, but creates enough havok all alone.
Oldest doesn't want to be around middlest, but does not like the solution of going to his room to play when middlest wants in on the action.
So, yes. I feel you 100%


My daughters (7 and 5) once got into an epic battle over acorns one collected from the yard before piling into the car. Screaming, hitting, hair pulling, forcibly yanking said acorns from the other's grasp. While I was DRIVING. It was amazing.

So then I played the Game of Thrones theme song at top volume and pretended that was the soundtrack to their battle for a while. That was pretty fun.


If it makes you feel any better, I have been known to settle arguments between my two older kids by being slightly meaner to them than is necessary, since it's all but guaranteed to get them to forgive each other and band together against me instead. At least it stops them from screaming for a while.

Jessica V.

Were my house last night? Because my youngest (also 4) bit HIS older brother (also 7) hard enough to break the skin when the game of "I'm getting you a bad score on the iPad game du jour" and "I'm going to pretend to bite you for it" got old (they giggled over it for 10 minutes prior to this). Oye.


I've got 2 boys and 2 girls and really? It's no different, except add in some shrieking and door slamming and hair pulling. But my girls can throw a punch and those boys wield their nails as well as the girls. Which is to say, someone's in timeout in my house pretty much constantly.


I don't think that I've ever been so glad to have one of each because I don't think that I could take that much 'love' all the live long day.

Good thing they're cute, eh?


Thanks for this. I feel a little better now. I have been distraught lately at the amount of petty violence between my two boys (4 and 8). And I HAVE been meaning to read Siblings Without Rivalry, but how do I get time to read when I have to watch them every single second of the day to insure that no one gets killed?


Really makes me look forward to having kids. :)


Where is the green coffee table from?


YES!! My house too, my 3 boys are exactly 1 year older than yours. Prepare for louder and LOUDER. Last night epic battle over a very cool looking wood chip middle child/kidnergartner snuck home from school. Wood chip people, 150 dollar lego set right there kids, no, wood chip must have the wood chip.

birdgal (another amy)

Yup, it's all beatings (almost) all the time over here too (girl same age as Noah, boy same age as Ezra). And yes, we usually have toy weapons on top of the refrigerator and there have been fights over goddamned BROOM HANDLES OMG. And they always want to 'play' with the other one! Maybe one day they'll realize that most of the drama comes from close proximity and I don't know, LEAVE THE OTHER ONE ALONE sometimes. Anyway, I'm certainly relieved to know it's not just us :).

Tina Anderson

That's the heart-warming LOL funny stuff that keeps me coming back to this blog.


I used to send my boys to their room and tell them they couldn't come out until they were nice to each. It was the worst punishment ever!!


I have a friend who is 1 of 6. The parents solved this issue with one rule: If one of them got in trouble, all of them got in trouble. This forced them to self police and create a solid alliance against the parents.


Dude. You have a vase with flowers in it on your coffee table? Is it made out of titanium?! Because I only have one kid and that lovely floral arrangement would not last five minutes anywhere near him.

Angela Krall

5 year old twins boys in my house... oh MAN, do I hear you! My favorite is when they are beating each other and screaming to "get away from me!!" But when I physically move them into separate areas away from each other, all I hear is "HOW UNFAIR YOU ARE, I WANT TO PLAY WITH MY BROTHER YOU ARE AN EVIL WOMAN!!!" No. Winning. Ever.


My favorite scheme, recently-overheard: "HIT FIGHT!" (because tickle fight and bubble fight were overruled)


Yeah, I am with Jenn. So sorry about the warring occurring in your home and all but man I love that coffee table!


This is my life, too! I think it's because it's been so cold and muddy that we haven't been able to go out. They have to burn their excess energy somewhere, so why not beat the crud out of each other while I beg them to stop?


BAHAHAHAHA. Omg. Everyone gets their own milk carton but they must wear it around their neck and never take it off for one week. THERE I FIXED IT.

omigod boys. Boys. boys.


@Jenn and April: We got that coffee table from a Pottery Barn outlet store, but a loooong time ago. Like when Ezra was going through that fun toddler phase of being unable to not injure himself on furniture corners and we decided maybe a round coffee table would be a better idea.

It's super beat-up looking and kind of wobbly in person...or, I mean, shabby chic distressed vintage upcycled.


OK the pic of Ike drinking but not really from the EMPTY MILK CONTAINER and looking at Ezra like "This? You wanted some of this?" I DIE.


So what you're saying is that my life would not get calmer if I added a third, possibly boy, child to our family. Noted. And may God grant you deafness to all child-related fighting, I'm still praying for my own little slice of heaven on that front.


And the screaming? About the beating? Do you have that too? If you add screaming and constant tattling and "Noooooo I didn't"s then you are living my life.


You are magic at putting life into words! Spot on! PS. Is the green thing under the chair a Kaboost? I need something of the like and am wondering how you feel about yours?


Ha-ha, this was great. My boys are 11, 8 and 14 months and IT NEVER STOPS! The "big ones" have taken to playing basketball in my living room. It ends in fighting EVERY time. And they also love to "LOVE" their baby brother a lot!!!


Wait till you get to yell the special sentence "STOP PEEING ON YOUR BROTHER!!!


Ok. All right. So this is normal. Every single night I come home, it's Hunger Games up in our hiz-ouse. Naturally, I have a 4 and 1 year old.


This is exactly why I always recommend having even numbers of children, so the fights are even.

My two girls, 18 months apart, used to fight like wildcats, complete with screaming. I finally handed the instigator a butter knife and told her "Just go on and kill her now, you'll do it eventually anyway, and if you do it now it'll save me a lot of food money." This ended up with them hugging and sobbing about how cruel I was. Mission accomplished.

Stephanie Cox

Agreeing again, one million billion percent. My 3 and 1.5 year olds tried to murder each other last night over the flat square box that a new wall hanging came in...having TWO empty plastic milk jugs could seriously end with a trip to the ER!!


@Kelly LOVE the Kaboost. Ezra has refused to sit in a high chair or booster seat since before his second birthday so the Kaboost it perfect for him. Sometimes I put it away when we have company and forget to bring it back out...until Ezra spends a meal with his sleeves in the spaghetti and knocks his milk over because he can't reeeeeeeach anything. Hoping he'll outgrow it be the time Ike rejects the high chair.

@Loth I swear to God, those EXACT words have come out of my mouth at least twice. Also "DON'T LET THE BABY CLIMB IN THE TOILET!" Boys, man.


In my house, it's the IDENTICAL Mardi Gras beads they caught this weekend. But one swears that he caught THAT one and the other swears that NUH UH, I DID. How they can tell the difference, I don't know. But I'm about to be the proud owner of two cheap, gaudy, disgusting (because they probably hit the ground before my kids picked them up) plastic sets of beads. SCORE ONE FOR MAMA!


Yes, this sounds right. This is exactly my life! I have four boys from 18 YEARS to 6 months and wouldn't you know it, the flowchart exists and is unchangeable and we had a fight over the goddamned trash the other day (paper...torn, used, PAPER).


I hate to break it you but I have a 12 year old and a 14 year old and it still hasn't stopped. Admittedly with fewer milk cartons and less actual violence. They've just moved on to verbal battles. They bicker ALL THE TIME about the stupidest things - it drives me nuts. Once though when one questioned why I had given the other one more peas or something equally ridiculous I replied 'Because I love him more than you.' Then I asked him if he thought that was true and he said no - I think the message hit home for - oh, all of 5 seconds.




Ah, the memories! My three boys were like this too. We live in a log home with two lofts which no one is allowed into, as they have no safety rails and only ladders for access (built in 1940, what can I say?). Every time the kids would fight over something they would get one warning and then I would fling the offending toy deep into the closet loft. A couple of years ago I cleaned them out and ohhh, the baseballs, Legos, strange robot toys, cheap cars and deflated balloons! The youngest is 16 now. The older two have moved out. Life is much calmer for the most part. Good luck!


I would like to thank you amy! for some reason I have been having really sad thoughts lately, missing the days my kids were little, wishing it could be that time again, wishing I could have do overs and go back in time to the 1980's when I had a 4 year old boy and one year old twins and then a few years later when they were a bit older and oh how much fun we could have if I could just go back and OMG am I having a mid life crisis? seriously been feeling very meloncholy for days here, until right now! right now since I just read your post and reality just smacked me up the side of the head with an empty milk container because reality is, YOU JUST DESCRIBED MY LIFE for 10 solid years easy! I may be in denial about how long it actually went on! so, wiping away my pathetic tears, and am doing the happy dance that mine are now 40 and 33 and oh ya, no more legos being stepped on in the middle of the night and arguments to settle oh the arguments!! um, it does get better if that help!! it may take some time, but is does get better! thanks amy! PS grandkids, oh yes, grandkids, they don't do these things! at least not at my house!!!!1


The meanest thing I ever did was to a fellow mom, who came to me for advice on how to get her three boys to stop fighting. Since I also had three boys, I must know? Something?
I gave her a slightly shocked look, touched my heart ever so lightly with my fingertips, and said, "Oh dear, no. We just emphasize that everyone in our house needs to be treated with LOVE and RESPECT. Oh dear. YOU have a PROBLEM?"
She looked so completely stricken. And then I said, "NO NO, just kidding! They only stop fighting when they're asleep."

Now, of course, my boys are older. 17, 14, and 11. Aaaand...well, let's just go ahead and pretend it gets better, shall we? Yes.

Leigh Ann

This is my house, with two 4 year olds and a 2 year old. ALL GIRLS. Their dad wrestles with them all the time, so guess what they do constantly? Well that and trying to sniff each others buttholes.


This. I have 6.5yr old and 3yr old boys. The fighting is ENDLESS. All day, every day. Over the most asinine things. We have had to outlaw "blanket fort" altogether because it has almost resulted in ER visits.
I had to laugh at your confiscated items on top of the fridge. We had a "pirate" themed b-day party for the 6 year old, and one of the goodies was a fake pirate sword just like the one in your picture. We had a few leftover swords...worst idea ever. These stupid swords have led to so many time-outs and lost privileges it's not even funny.
Also...I very distinctly remember my mother losing her shit after my sister and I got into a full-out brawl over an empty egg carton. Who knew about recyclables?


Hah, my husband keeps bugging me about when we're going to try for number two... But seriously, some days I just wonder, why does anyone have more than one??

I'm warming up to the idea, though.


Nice to know it's not just me. Mine suddenly hold hands and skip away from me whispering 'let's get away from mean mummy'. I'm fully expecting a 'children of the corn' moment in the near future.


I hate to be the one to bring the bad news, but it doesn't get any better. 2 girls and a boy, aged 10-19 now. They still get into skirmishes regularly, even after the many years of explaining that it's not a freaking competition! But for the most part, I see that they truly love each other, so I tend to stay out of it now.


Had to come back to add that I occasionally deploy the "if one is in trouble, you are all in trouble" rule. That seems to deter things, but I've learned to use it judiciously. :)


I love the shot of Ezra crying and Ike all, Ah Gots Twwwooooooooooo Milk jugs!

The comments are CRACKING ME UP, especially Leigh Ann's daughters sniffing each other's buttholes. I guffawed at that one.


My cousin used to have her kids sit (quietly) on the couch & hold hands when they faught. I used this when mine were younger, and it was awesome. I've also heard of having them stand facing each other nose to nose, no talking allowed, but didn't try that. I recently saw a pic on facebook of 2 kids wearing one very large tshirt (both kids in one shirt) and the shirt said "this is our get along shirt". The younger child was very upset, but the pic was awesome. Just some ideas for you... =)

Tina C.

too true!!! the wrestling over here had a 'positive' outcome the other day when a snaggle-loose-tooth was knocked out. everyone was happy!

Corey Feldman

I always find it always how my two boys can go from trying to beat the heck out of each other to being the best of friends in a moments notice.


I remember reading once on a blog Far Far Away a mom ranting about how her children had her at the end of her rope that day after fighting over dryer lint. As a result, "dryer lint" has become shorthand between me and my husband for "totally ridiculous fight over nothing that matters one iota going on in the other room so just go ahead and ignore that screaming." It usually reminds us how utterly absurd the situation is and gives us a chuckle, even when we want to rip out every last hair on our heads.

Now you guys have "milk jugs." Although, I sort of suggest you go with dryer lint, because a mischevious eavesdropper might think you were talking about female anatomy or something :)


If it's any consolation, girls fight over dumb crap, too....less physical, but louder screeching and screaming. However, you will miss it all one of these days....promise!


Thank you. This makes bearing the shrieking of my 4 daughters a little more doable.


oh. my. gawd. I GET this, all the way. Just last night my 3 boys fought over- get this- half of a chewed up mini soccer ball that the dog had discarded. Slime and all. Just precious, I tell ya!


Had to comment, because this was HILARIOUS. I had a good long laugh over the image of your teenage son being shut down over the milk jug event. Thank you!


Sounds like a perfectly normal multi-child home to me....


Alrighty then, only one child it is.


YES YES YES. everyday. My boys are the same age as Noah and Ezra. My oldest wants nothing to do with his little brother. The younger one is constantly "missing" him when he's at school. And the blanket is the worst. Fight every time.


Hilarious! I love the photo-documentation.

Plano Mom

Make em hug each other for a whole minute. And if they argue, then they have to kiss each other. They'll come together in plotting revenge.

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