At my sons T-ball practice this afternoon, I catch my older son looking out for and taking care of my younger son. And then at the end when they receive stickers, they both come running that they got an extra sticker for their sister and gave it to her. Bystanders comment, “awww. So sweet.”

I get told by teachers that my older son is always taking care of his brother when he sees him at school. I took them to the dentist yesterday, they couldn’t have been more polite and well behaved.

So tell me. What is it about my house that they morph from being kind, generous, and caring to selfish, whiny and up-for-a fight children?!

I know that what’s important is how they behave at school and outside of the home, because that shows they really know how and can behave. But gosh, how frustrating and annoying is it that we don’t get to enjoy the better version of them all the time?

Now to be clear, they’re not constantly devils at home, but they definitely have their moments.

Lately, the boys have been fighting so much. I’m not a fighter and I didn’t fight with my siblings nor did they fight with each other, so this really bothers me. I really try to not let it, but I really dislike it. They’re 4 and 6 now, they turn 5 and 7 at the end of the year, and it just seems to be a daily occurrence. They go from best friends to enemies back to best friends faster than I can say, “it’s dinner time.”

It’s so frustrating when they fight. The threats that go through my head that I want to say to get them to stop… they’re so absurd they make me laugh when I think about them.

When they fight, I don’t want to be around them. I dislike the environment and they know that. They’ve seen me leave the room and they know it’s because I dislike it. They talk about not fighting anymore, I even hear them tell each other, “no more fighting,” and then someone picks up the something the other didn’t want them to and they go right back to it.

Sometimes when it’s been calm for so long I brace myself because I know a fight has to be coming. For now they don’t fight with their sister, they treat her like the Queen and often give her too much loving!

I’m doing something really nice for my older son tomorrow; I’m having his class over to celebrate the end of the year. When they were fighting tonight, I really wanted to tell him, “you know what. Party canceled. You can’t get along with your brother then you don’t deserve this party.”

Instead, I took a deep breath. I thought about how the party and this fight have nothing to do with each other. That would be an illogical consequence. Should there be a logical consequence to a sibling fight? I wonder about this often. I ask my mom, she explains that there’s a natural consequence – they fight, they get hurt.

When my younger son was calling to me that his brother was doing xyz, I told him to tell him. So he did, he told him, “you’re hurting my feelings.” A break in their fight. A time to communicate. If and when I don’t stop myself and I do get involved, it in fact doesn’t help their communication, it just makes them feel like I’m taking sides.

I didn’t take any part in their fight, I didn’t threaten, I didn’t cancel the party, instead I gave myself a moment to breathe.

They worked it out, I’m not even sure what was the start or end of the fight. They ate dinner had a bath and played together. They made sure to say goodnight to each other and I know when my younger son wakes up tomorrow he will call out to his brother to come get him from his room.

He knows his older brother is there to protect him when they leave the house. And he tries to emulate what he receives (in terms of love and affection) onto his younger sister.

I know that when I send them off to school and camp they are so lucky to have each other. To know the others are there if they ever need anything. I know they feel safer and stronger together and that they do truly love each other. I know this because they’ve expressed it.

I know they consider the other their very best friend in the whole world. I know I’m grateful to witness the bond they share.

I also know that I needed to write this to remind myself that it’s OKAY that they fight. I need to not let it get under my skin. I need to continue staying out of it and not pick sides. (That’s a constant struggle, never comes easy and I often screw up)

I need to let this stage of their lives play out. I need to allow them to be the worst version of themselves at home and still feel loved and supported through that. I need to encourage them to be their best-selves but I need to be ok with not seeing that all the time.