I’m sure people think I’m exaggerating when I say that Hattie and Joe never argue, but it’s true: they really do get on brilliantly, and are very kind. I’ve never heard them say a mean word to each other, and they’ve definitely never hurt each other physically. I’d like to credit this all to the amazing job Tristan and I do as parents (and I do think raising them in a calm household in which arguments and unpleasant talk don’t occur has probably helped), but primarily I think we’ve just been lucky enough to have two children who are very gentle and complement one another well.
However, we knew that the ‘no arguments’ thing couldn’t last forever, and sure enough: late last week we witnessed the First Fight. It deserves capitalisation because it was very dramatic and emotional.
It started off fairly innocently, with both children trying to tell us about somebody who’d served as an extra pair of hands at some non-classroom school activity that day – gym, or music – I’m hazy on the details. Anyway, Hattie thought the helper was a child, and Joe thought the helper was an adult. Or maybe the other way around – like I said, hazy on the details. The crux of the matter was that an older teenager had helped, and Hattie and Joe disagreed about whether they were a child or an adult.
You’d think this wouldn’t be a huge source of dispute, but my goodness: on this occasion you’d be wrong. Voices were very quickly raised: “She was a KID!” “NO! She was a GROWNUP!!!” And despite our best efforts to calm things down, it all kicked off. They both ran to their room, still arguing…
“HATTIE, STOP SHOUTING AT ME!”
“I’M NOT SHOUTING! YOU’RE SHOUTING!”
“SHE WAS A KID!”
“SHE WAS A GROWNUP!!!”
One minute later Hattie was sitting on my knee and sobbing because Joe, in a misguided attempt to force her to calm down and stop shouting at him, had blocked her way and stopped her from leaving the bedroom. Joe also came back to the living room in tears, and all in all it was very tense.
We pointed out to them that this was probably not an issue that was important enough to have a big fight about, and that some people think teenagers are kids, and some people think they’re grownups, so they could both be right. And that it wasn’t a good idea to ever stop anybody from leaving a room, particularly if they were cross and wanted to get away from the argument, and that shouting and carrying on with the person they love best in the whole entire world was not really a very nice way to behave.
We suggested that we put it all behind us, and that they give each other a cuddle and be best friends again. Hattie fell into Joe’s arms and they sobbed on each other’s shoulders, and then the storm was over. Thank heavens! And here they are on a happier day, at school a couple of weeks ago (where they’re absolutely thriving, by the way – I’ll write an update about that as soon as my current semester from hell is finished).