Why I'm Glad My Kids Gang Up On Me

by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
siblings relationships
PeopleImages / iStock

I’m not speaking to my daughter right now. She’s acting like a little shit, and so we are taking a break from one another.

She’s in her room. She slammed the door. And I’m in my room. I slammed the door, too, because I’m the Mommy and I get to slam the fucking door, god dammit!

It’s very quiet in the house right now.

I can hear my son climbing the little stool in the kitchen to reach the cabinet. I peek out, and I see he’s taking down the package of chocolate chip cookies, opening them, and putting four on a plate. I can see him stepping down and walking to the bedroom he and my daughter share. I can see him opening the door as quietly as he can while holding the plate.

Then I hear him say to his big sister, “Shhh, don’t tell Mama, but here. You look like you need a cookie.”

This isn’t the first time he’s done this. She’s done it too.

Like a few weeks ago, when he was throwing food at the cat during dinner and I sent him to think about his table manners from his room, without food, I pretended not to notice when his sister snuck a piece of mushroom pizza in to him when she was finished eating.

And I love it. I really love it it. I love it when her brother tells me to stop yelling at his sister. I love it when his sister tells me to stop yelling at her brother.

Because the angriest I’ve ever gotten at my daughter was the day I found out that she and her friends made fun of my son. And the angriest I’ve ever gotten at my son was the day I found out he and his friends made fun of my daughter.

On both days, we had a serious truth-to-power conversation about family and siblings:

I told them both that they have to look out for one another—that they need to have each other’s backs because that’s how we do things in our family. The world is vast—powerful, fierce, mighty and beautiful—but it is a fucking wilderness without your family. They have each other in this world, and that’s sacred and worth fighting for. That’s family.

I didn’t think they got it until later on they both turned on me defending each other. At first it freaked me out—it was two (them) against one (me.)

“You need to listen to your mother!” I said.

“But Mom! You told us we need to have each other’s backs!”

And I got it. I really got it.

In a perfect world, we all get along and bake brownies and frolic in the fields, and play with our cat and butterflies and singing deer, and read stories and sing “All Apologies” and “All You Need Is Love.” In a perfect world, there are no bullies, no inequality, and no injustice. In a perfect world, people are kind, and no one ever needs to fight for their place in this world.

But this isn’t a perfect world and sometimes they act like little shits. Sometimes, I do too. Sometimes I’m wrong, but even if I’m not, how wonderful that their relationship is with each other together and not to each other through me.

They have each other. They are their biggest defenders.

And if all goes as it should, one day I’ll be gone, because that’s how the world should work. I won’t be there to protect them and cut the bitches and assholes who try to hurt them.

But they won’t be alone because they’re not only siblings, they’re also allies—scrappy, loving and loyal little allies—and sometimes that means they find a way around the rules I make up.