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The Mom’s fascination with sibling rivalry – be it of the canine or human variety – never ceases to amaze. As an only child, The Mom understands conceptually what it’s like to have a sibling, it’s just the practical realities she’s a bit sketchy on.

She seems to believe that most groups of children are vying for their parents’ attention. They may well be, sometimes, it’s just that it’s not how most of their time is spent. Really what’s going on is an internal power struggle within the group. Who will be the leader? The eldest, in our case, me, is usually the first suspect. Or at least the most assertive.

When I was little, I was very assertive. Actually, I was bossy as hell. I would shout down the hall to L’il Sis where she lay sleeping or at least drowsy, in her warm bed. I would beg and plead that she come into my room, get the hamster out of its cage, and come sit in bed with me and the hamster. L’il Sis acquiesed for a while, and then came to her senses. At which point, it was me who started making the morning commute down the hall to play Barbies in her room.

Crazy D and I went through a similar phase when we were living in California, where I dragged him out of bed so early in the morning it was actually the middle of the night. We’d sit and eat the cereal The Mom left out and stare at the test patterns on TV. Eventually, he too wised up and our mornings spent blearily staring at the TV screen went the way of the dodo.

I do remember having brief chats with both of them about how best to manipulate the parents into doing what we wanted. We had the advantage as we were three. So one could be the crier, one could be the logical negotiator, and the third was the one in charge of throwing a fit. We were a powerful group.

However, when it comes to training dogs or any other pets, we are hopeless. Crazy D was making a good start with his little puppy, but the more time that puppy spent with The Mom, the worse its behaviour got. This is because The Mom values pets and children who are prone to making a scene of some kind. I believe this is because she is frequently bored with most things. I suppose if you live in a steady diet of CNN, the rest of the world can see a bit lacking in drama.

When The Mom told me about the exciting news, that the neighbours had got a puppy, the first thing I told her was to be on her best behaviour around it, to follow all instructions to the letter, and to under no circumstances break the puppy.

She was slightly admonished when I mentioned that it would obviously be her out of all of us who was liable to break the puppy.

“But I just want to have fun with it!” she exclaimed over Skype one afternoon.

“I know, but it’s not your puppy. They want you to have fun too, but fun to them is not giving a wild animal safe harbour and hoping it doesn’t eat the entire house while they sleep.”

The Mom smirked.

“Now,” I said. “I know that you would find such a thing hysterical, and that because you were pissing yourself laughing so much, you wouldn’t mind much at all, but it’s not your puppy. This puppy is basically the live-in babysitter for their wee girl. Don’t teach it anything stupid!”

The Mom bowed her head and blushed.

“But it’s funny!” she cried in her defense.

“That’s because it’s not your house,” I said.

“It would still be funny if it was my house,” she muttered.

So it would seem that The Mom is somehow forming a bond with the new puppy. Perhaps she’s imagining a fun new world, where they can both frolic around, get into trouble, and nobody is the wiser. Though, speaking as a sibling, if the wee girl finds out I bet you anything that it’ll be she who rats The Mom out to her parents. Because that’s just what siblings do.

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