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Sibling Squabbling – Love to Loathe in a Nanosecond

Published Oct 5, 2015 | Updated Feb 19, 2020

My three kids can be anything from best friends to arch rivals. Growing up I remember hearing the expression “they’d fight over fresh air”. Wow do I understand those words now. It sometimes sends me into a tail spin – you’re fighting over WHAT?!!!!

Laura-Leigh said to me recently “you have lines on your face when you are cross or angry but they go away when you are happy”.  Now if they would just stop fighting for ten minutes I might be a happier person.

I often find myself quoting a bunny, yes thumper I love your line in Bambi “If you can’t say nothing nice, don’t say nothin’ at all”.  Yes I use it A LOT in my house because they like to bicker A LOT.

Ok so admittedly the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.  Guilty as charged.  I have childhood memories were I was pretty cruel to my siblings or vice versa my siblings weren’t too nice to their little sister. 

The strongest memory is the handful of thick dark brown hair I held to my hand, it belonged to my little Sister Tracy, 3 years my junior.  I am sure she “aggravated” me over something extremely trivial and she probably got me back.  Tracy, I apologise! I also remember walloping my handbag with a metal clasp across your face and firing a pen and narrowly missing your eye.  You were my chief bridesmaid so I am sure that means you totally forgive me for all my childhood misdemenours.  I got as good as I gave .  I am not 100% ruffian.  Yes my older sister Mandy chased me up the stairs as I had “aggravated” her, I ran into the bathroom, locked the door, thinking I was really clever.  She wasn’t giving up and she was really “aggravated” with me and a locked wooden door wasn’t going to stop her.  I tried to protect myself and I broke the handle off.  Shit.  Now to explain that to Daddy who was outside mowing the lawn.  In my teens, I “borrowed” my sister Susanne’s sweater (or jumper as we call them in Ireland).  She was “aggravated”.  She waited in the bushes as I got off the bus and chased me down our driveway.  I have to admit I am laughing as I type that one.  So many more childhood memories but I will spare you.

My own kids will fight over everything, here are a few examples: 


This is the number one reason for kids to fight.  Absolutely nothing.  No reason – nada.  Let’s just get extremely annoyed with each other over absolutely nothing.  We have all the toys in the world which we need, we have food in our bellies, a roof over our head and really fabulous parents, this sucks…….let’s fight over NOTHING!  This happens on a regular basis, at approximately ten minute intervals.  I swear they would fight with their own shadows.

Entering or exiting The Minivan

This is an old reason to my house thankfully but I am sure some of you are experiencing this fun one.  Yes they actually fight over who opens the door, who gets in first and who gets out first.  It got so bad I was going to bring them to the local cop shop and get them thrown in a cell for a night as time outs just weren’t cutting it.  Really does it matter who gets in or out first!  You have got to be kidding me.  This would add about 5 minutes to my journey time.  I fought the idea of a minivan for 12 solid months but caved but one of the great things about this vehicular beauty is that it separates them.   Heaven.  There is a little bit more distance between them.  Having said that Jamie (4) was “aggravating” his big sister Laura-Leigh (5) by stretching his leg over and using her knees as a rest knowing this would drive her beserk.  

Melody meltdowns

We did lots of road trips during the summer.  Most were on average 2 hours.  2 hours with 3 kids aged 5 and under.  There is a nutty gene within me.  Anyway, my kids are quirky which I love.  Jamie is the middle child, born in Ireland and very much the Irishman (bearing in mind he moved here at 4 months old).  He loves a singer songwriter by the name of Luke Kelly (for my Canadian audience).  He shouts from the back “Raglan road” (a song by Luke), Ryan (2) his parrot shouts the same and then Laura- Leigh intervenes with screeching “NOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooo”.  “Iron Maiden”.  The minute I try and put on music I might actually like the wailing gets too much and I give in, anything not to have to listen to them.  I want to point out that I love them more than words can say but on occasions I wish they were a little, you know, quieter.

Flushing Face off

I took the boys to the washroom with me recently.  All three of us squashed into a tiny cubicle.  They took care of business and it was my turn.  Like a Mommy Ninja I am hoovering and Jamie asks me is my bum too big to sit down.  Love the way they look at things.  Laughing I turn to flush the toilet and they are slapping each other…….over who gets to flush the toilet.  Life will really never be the same once you reproduce.  You will be in awe at the daily weirdness and unexpectedness. 

They either ALL want to hold my hand or NOBODY wants to hold my hand

The glorious minivan pulls up in a parking space and out I get and spend about 5 minutes getting them out of this mechanical beast.  They have outnumbered me for quite a while now.  I can technically only hold two kids hands and guess what they will fight, argue, debate and discuss who is going to hold whose hand forgetting I am there mother and actually there and actually speaking and telling them this information.  That would involve listening to me.  That is another blog. Listening.

UFC fighters

I have a great vantage point from my kitchen window.  It allows me to supervise my kids from a distance.  I glanced out recently and all were happily playing.  I walked away and returned about 2 minutes later.  What I saw prompted me to run fast.  Laura-Leigh and Jamie were “aggravated” with each other and both turned into UFC Champions.  Oh my God, I was horrified, I didn’t raise them like this.  I was sure I would see hair and blood if I didn’t break them up which I promptly did.  I can’t actually remember what they were fighting about, perhaps I am suffering from PTSD? 

He giveth only to taketh away again and again

I sometimes call Jamie the Tormentor.  He does it so well he deserves a title.  It’s in his blood, he cannot help himself.  He will push you to the cliff's edge and rein you in with a hug.  He is the middle child.  Oh the middle child, that is another entirely separate blog, even book.  He has his younger brother so confused and me too at times.  One minute he is playing nicely, acting kindly by giving his pirate sword to Ryan along with a hat.  Anyone who knows Ryan knows he is OBSESSED with pirates, it used to be Ice Hockey but that was so six months ago!!!  Ryan is pottering happily playing with is favourite toy which technically belongs to Jamie, but the latter has given it to the former under no duress.  Suddenly I hear a piercing screech followed by “JJJJJJaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmieeeeee”.  Jamie has decided he wants to the sword back, he decided at age four he is not going to use his words, instead he pulls it out of Ryan’s hands and clocks him over the head with it.  It’s foam thankfully.  At four he understands the art of sharing but there is just no filter inside him, he is reactionary and poor Ryan is left confused.  The thing is Jamie is built like a wafer and Ryan is built like a tank, he is going to get his comeuppance and it’s not going to be pretty.  I keep warning him of this fact.  However, his ears don’t work too well when I speak for some really strange reason!!!!

Bath time

The squabbling can happen anywhere.  All three are planted in the bath, yes all three.  Don’t judge.  They all fit in and it saves time!  The generally have great fun, showing each other underwater tricks, blowing bubbles, playing with bath toys and splashing around.  Then it comes to getting out and they fight over who is getting out first.  In order to alleviate the situation we have to be creative.  Pick a number between 1 and 10 and the first to 3 wins and stays in last.  It’s is entertaining and we don’t include Ryan as poor Ryan doesn’t even know his own age yet.  He doesn’t give two hoots and he is two.  Ryan will be the class clown.  When I ask him how old he is, he scrunches up his devilishly cute little face, lips pursed and his dimple just below his left eye appears, he replies “I dunno”.  He comes out first, he doesn’t even realise it's happening.  Bless.


It happens in every household.  The constant bickering.  It drives us Moms bonkers.  The sad reality is that it will continue until they leave, I know this.  I recently bought a book by Carol McCloud called “Have you filled a bucket today”?” – A guide to daily happiness for kids.  It is fabulous and I couldn’t recommend it enough.  A simple concept.  We each have an invisible bucket which we can either fill (by random acts of kindness or using kind words) or we can bucket dip (cruel words or actions).  If you were a fly on the wall in the Rigney Household, firstly what a lucky fly you would be, secondly you would constantly hear “Are you dipping into my/his/her bucket?” or” Very good you are filling our buckets”.  My kids understand it and want to be bucket fillers.  The fighting over fresh air will continue but hopefully the amount of daily occurrences will reduce.

As always: - 

 Keep sane

never a dull moment in this house.










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