The one question I am asked daily and the one that annoys me the most is, “mom, what’s for dinner?” Each time I answer the question, I feel like a waitress explaining the dinner specials to non-tipping patrons. On a recent trip to Target, I came across a package of alphabet magnets. I was delighted, thinking I had found the perfect solution to this pesky problem. I would spell out the menu on the refrigerator before the kids got home from school, thereby alleviating their need to ask. Brilliant, just brilliant! Knowing I would need more than one pack (it takes two O’s to spell hot dogs), I purchased several. Yes, the magnetic alphabet seemed like a great idea and in the beginning it was. My children were excited about the magnets as well. I now understand their excitement was due to the sinister plans they had in mind for their use.
In a matter of days, the magnets became a way for my children to harass one another without uttering a single word or using any physical means. They didn’t need their voices or their bodies; all they needed were the alphabet magnets to send taunting messages back and forth. The magnet mayhem began with one insult after another being posted on the front of our refrigerator. Once posted and seen by the intended target, the target retaliated by posting a new message. Since my youngest child seemed to be on the receiving end the most, I thought it would be nice if he saw a positive message for a change. One evening, I wrote with the magnets “I love you Nick – Mom.” I knew he would see it the next morning since the refrigerator is usually his first stop. I was right.
The next morning, Nicholas asked me who had written the message. I proudly announced I had, feeling like the best mom ever. I was confident I was about to get a big hug and thank you. Instead, I got a terse “why would you write that, mom?” Puzzled, I asked why he was upset. He then informed me that “I love you” was not what the message read and we headed into the kitchen. Written on the fridge in the colorful alphabet magnets was, “We hate you Nick – Mom and Dad.” Okay, little monsters, enough is enough! I assured Nicholas that was not what I had written. I grilled his brother and sister thoroughly. Both loudly proclaimed their innocence. I then gave an emotionally charged speech about how the magnets were to be used for good not evil, which was met with a mixture of snarky laughter, heavy sighing and a lot of eye rolling.
The sibling relationship is a complex one; a love/hate dance of sorts that continues throughout the years. On one hand, they seem to derive great pleasure from bickering and annoying each other, while on the other, they are the first to defend their siblings against outsiders. It was the same with me and my siblings. My little brother loves to remind my sister and me of a particular incident involving his beloved Winnie the Pooh, a toilet and the threat of imminent flushing. That event was funny then and it is still funny today (sorry, Chris). Even now, we enjoy teasing each other when we are together, but they know I love them and have their backs. I am amazed at the creativity siblings use to keep the dance alive. Who would have thought a non-menacing pack of alphabet magnets could be used in sibling warfare and to create a new melody for the sibling dance. All I wanted was to spell out the dinner menu!
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