My sister, Karen, was four years older than me. As a result anytime mama was at work or out for any reason Karen was left in charge.
Now, I’d like to be able to tell you all that I always did just what Karen said, but that would be a bold face lie right here in black and white. In fact, being the little sister who resented having the big sister in charge, I most definitely did not. I usually did exactly not what big sis said. Maybe not the exact opposite, but not what I was supposed to do.
And, Karen, being large and in charge really didn’t mind lording it over me either. She dealt out demands and instructions with impunity. Naturally I thought she was being militant and doling out more of the chores to me than she had for herself because, well, she was in charge. And who could stop her?
She would give (cough)instructions and I’d say, “I don’t have to do what you say. You’re not the boss of me!” She would get angry and chase me down and I’d stick my fingers in my ears. I spent a good portion of the time when mama was working with my back on the ground, Karen on top of me, using her knees to hold my hands down to keep my fingers out of my ears, pointing in my face and telling me exactly what I’d do when we got up.
When mama was home we’d bicker. A lot.
“Yes, you did!”
“No, I didn’t!”
“I’m telling mama!”
“Go ahead you little brat!”
“You started it!”
“Nuh-uh, you did!”
I am quite certain that my mama earned every grey hair she had. I’m sure there were times when she wondered why on earth she ever had us!
One day we were going on with such childishness – we were children after all – and mama had clearly had enough. Who knows how many times she’s told us to knock it off.
She ordered both of us out. “Out! Go on!”, pointing to the front door. Karen and I, still bickering and mumbling all the way, went out the front door. Now mama stood in the hallway and we stood on the front stoop, with only the screened door between us.
Karen and I looked at each other perplexed.
“None of that, now. Y’all have been bickering all day long and I’m tired of hearing it. Go on, fight! I wanna see blood!”
Now we were looking at each other slack-jawed.
We didn’t fight. We didn’t know what to make of whatever that was. We stood there and looked at each other for a good ten minutes, I guess. It might have only been two but the tension made it seem like at least ten.
I don’t think we bickered anymore that day. A new day dawned, though, and we were right back at it.
“He who fights and runs away, may turn and fight another day.” – Tacitus
*Inspired by the recent grown-up version on various blogs. Now I know why my mother told us to duke it out. Sigh…