Whether you love The Family Circus or believe it's a cartoon for semi-literate people in institutions, there's one thing you can't deny about Bil Keane's creation: It really gets the minutiae of sibling conflict. Because it's all minutiae. There's nothing especially enlightening about two kids in the backseat annoying the crap out of each other.
Still, I decided to make it my mission to discover why my daughter always has to rub her baby brother's head, and why my little boy insists on grabbing his sister's hair and not letting go until I pry his tiny fingers (with a surprisingly strong grip) off. I might as well have spent that time on the Internet banging my head against the wall.
So instead, I asked my daughter, "Why can you not keep your hands off of your brother?" After she insisted that she was not touching him -- as her finger hovered in a point about two centimeters away from his arm -- this is what she had to say:
Because I want him to play with me.
I informed her that her little brother isn't a very good playmate when he's crying because she just grabbed him for the 50th time. But she stood firm.
I want him to pay attention to me.
This is when I realized that everyone really wants the same thing, which is to be acknowledged. Whether you get that attention by poking your finger into a toddler's arm until he screams or by sending an email in all caps, it's for the same result. Negative attention is still attention, as so many celebrities realize, and there are a lot of annoying ways to get it. Clearly, this is a lesson my kids learned super early.
Do your kids drive each other crazy like this?
Image via Family Circus