It's been pretty quiet around here for the past two days. Unusually quiet. The crud that's making its way through each set of lungs and nostrils and throats in my daughters' school finally settled here and we've been burning through the Tylenol and Motrin trying to keep fevers down. My oldest daughter woke up Thursday morning with no voice and an incredibly sore throat and my youngest coughed her way through to lunchtime.
Now that we're on day two of staying home sick I'm realizing what a blessing this is. While I hate it when my kids are sick, the mantra I've been chanting to them for the past six months, "It takes two people to argue" is only just becoming clear to them. On a typical day I act as the repository for tattletaling of all kinds - 'she hit me,' 'she's making mean faces at me,' 'she won't leave me alone,' etc. I encourage kind words, enhanced communication in an effort to avoid misunderstandings, and when all else fails, ignoring your sister. If I have told them once, I've told them a million times - walking away will always end the argument. When there is nobody to react to you, it's not fun anymore. My youngest daughter is the instigator most of the time and she is often quite open about the jolt she gets from provoking her older sibling. Her older sister, the principled one, just can't resist fighting back and trying to 'educate' her sister about why what she is doing is wrong.
For the past two days, she's had no choice but to resist fighting back. The first day was rough, but by now she is so used to not being able to utter a word, the impulse is not even there any more. On the way to the doctor's office this morning, my youngest made some of her most annoying faces at her sister. Nothing.
"You're faking it! You aren't sick - you just want more attention!" she screamed.
"Hmph!" she crossed her arms and looked out the window.
It's the most peaceful morning drive I've had since four years ago when my youngest began talking in complete sentences. This afternoon they have watched TV without arguing about who gets to choose the show. They have sat at the kitchen table and painted pictures side-by-side without offering any mean-spirited critique of each other's art work. I have watched the comments roll right off of my eldest daughter's back without even an eye roll. My youngest has struggled with the frustration that comes from not having her thrown gauntlet retrieved and flung back at her. It took a day and a half, but she has finally turned her attentions to bugging me. Well, I'm not biting. The peace and quiet around here have been too glorious for words.