I know I've written this before, but one of my favorite sayings (reminders? mantras? prayers?) is that when it comes to parenthood, the days are long, but the years are short. Excepting those in prison (for whom the days AND years are likely long), I have yet to meet a parent who does not agree with this.
There should, however, be a post-script. It should go something like, "the days are long and the years are short, but the school vacations make the years SEEM a lot longer." I suppose if I had lots of money and could afford to travel the world with my kids during each of the three approximately 10-day vacations they have during the year, I wouldn't mind it so much. But I don't, so I can't. As if to show me how much they hate this fact, my children spend every moment of every day of every one of those vacations fighting.
I learned the hard way that sibling rivalry is one of those things, like labor, that we suffer through and then conveniently forget about when we want more children. Sure, my brother and I spent much of our childhood at odds, but looking back, it seems trivial: he taunted and hounded me for attention, I regularly excluded him and escaped into books. Sounds perfectly normal. But I'm also known for my selective, rose-colored memory and my ability to block out unpleasant experiences.
I also never consulted with my mother before having a second child.
So now, rather than having two boys (yay! similar toys, clothes and interests!) who make great playmates for each other, I have two diametrically opposed personalities that only seem to enjoy each other's company when they have had no one else to play with for a couple of hours. Jacob loves books; Ben hates reading. Jacob likes sci-fi; Ben likes humor. Jacob likes LEGOs; Ben likes trains. Jacob likes quiet, thinking activities; Ben is always on the move. Sometimes I feel like I failed to read the fine print before deciding to grow our little family, and other times I know it's the universe laughing at me because my first-born was so easy that I thought it would be fun to have more just like him.
But my kids do love each other. I see it at the dinner table when they take turns trying to make the other crack up and blow milk out of his nose. And when they make funnier and funnier faces to see who will laugh hard enough to get the hiccups first. And when they work together on an art project, complimenting each other along the way. Those are the moments that make me proud and happy, the ones that feel so fleeting.
With another vacation coming up soon, I know I need to take action and line up some activities that will help them to work, play and laugh together. Lots of activities. Because if I don't, it's quite possible that before school resumes, they will love each other (or I will end up loving them) to death.