Friday, March 23, 2012

Reasons to celebrate - and sigh

original run date January 10, 2012
Chariton Valley News Press

Sibling rivalry - every set of parents hopes they can avoid it. How Larry and I ever thought it wouldn’t happen when we had three kids in 48 months is beyond me.
It started early for us. I have video of the kids just before Christmas the first year Joni was in preschool. Jake wasn’t even a year old yet. Joni was trying to give me a preview of the preschool Christmas program by singing “Go Tell It On The Mountain” as I videotaped her performance. Because she had been continuously rehearsing the song for weeks, Jeana knew it too.
As Joni was belting out the words with precision and drama, Jeana decided she was not to be outdone. The vision of Jeana screaming with every ounce of breath in her lungs, her eyes closed and forehead scrunched in deep concentration is an image forever connected to that song. Every year at some point during the Christmas season that song is sang during church services. Every year, the pew my family occupies shakes as we all try to contain the laughter as that image pops into our head.
The rivalry never got any better. It just turned from songs to food. Jake is a typical boy and has always loved to eat. When the kids were little, Little Debbie cakes were never on sale enough. They all three LOVED those carefully baked and wrapped geometric marvels of pure sugar – especially Zebra cakes!  I’m not sure why they were so esteemed at my house but a box would barely make it two days if it was not well hidden and out of reach.
One Sunday afternoon Jake came waltzing out of his bedroom as happy as a young boy could be. He had a Zebra cake in each hand and a huge smile on his face - the fight was on. The girls demanded he share. He smiled that Chester the Cheetah grin and shoved cakes into his mouth with gusto. I knew it had been a couple of weeks since I had purchased any Little Debbie’s of any kind so the hunt was on. He had to have a stash somewhere.
It didn’t take long to figure it out. Jake had an entire fleet of semis with grain trailers and stock trailers in his room. If Orscheln’s carried it, he had managed to talk someone into buying it for him as a gift. Larry and I had added to the growing parking lot in his room by purchasing the collectors trucks from Kent Feeds every year when we owned the feed store.
Jake had quite a supply of assorted food items stashed away in all the trailers. Anything he didn’t care if the girls found was in the livestock trailers. Those trailers had holes in the sides and you could see what was in them.  The smaller treats, like Halloween candy, were tucked away safely in the grain trailers. The precious Zebra cakes were scrunched into the bulk truck he had recently added to his fleet. It was completely enclosed with no windows so the chances of anyone accidentally seeing his hidden gold mine were slim.
Needless to say, we cleaned his room that day. He was not a happy camper but I could foresee him having all kinds of unwanted roommates with the endless food supply he had managed to accumulate. He could have gone into hibernation in his room and came out having gained 10 pounds. Jake’s rainy day supply was cleaned out and he was going to have to learn to share.
Fast forward to present day – the sibling rivalry hasn’t subsided much. One Sunday afternoon as I was walking through the kitchen with a large stack of clean towels, an unusual glare caught my eye. I put the towels down to find my refrigerator had a cable ran through the handles and a padlock securely holding the doors shut. A bellowing roar rang throughout the house, as I demanded answers.
Apparently, Larry had bought ice cream for the family dinner that night. Not just any ice cream, drumsticks - both Jake and Joni’s favorites. Jake was afraid Joni would raid the box as soon as she got to the house and he wouldn’t get his fair share of the delicacies. He had dug out a cable and padlock that came as a trigger lock on the most recently purchased firearm and put the freezer on lock down.
Jake figured out how to lock the freezer down so no one could sneak ice cream out but him. Of course, it also meant we couldn’t get anything out of the refrigerator to fix supper with either but he didn’t care. As long as he had full control over the ice cream, life was good.
I do see some hope on the horizon between the two kids though – in between the wrestling matches over ice cream bars. On a recent shopping trip for groceries with Joni, I noticed a few things in her cart that I didn’t recognize as day care friendly foods. I casually asked which kid those unusual snacks were for and she grinned as she said – Jake. He makes pretty regular appearances at her house before school, after school, after practice, and on the weekends. Apparently, he has managed to claim his own shelf in the pantry and drink shelf in the fridge that she keeps stocked for his unannounced yet expected visits.
As I watch my kids mature into adults, I tell myself, “don’t cry because it is over; celebrate because it happened.”  Sibling rivalry has given me many reasons to celebrate over the years and continues to make me laugh when I hear that one song at Christmas or see Little Debbie cakes on sale.
I’m sure just because they are getting older, it doesn’t mean they won’t find something to compete at. They can barely eat Oreos at the same time without seeing who can eat all the frosting out of the middle fastest. But as long as I can still get in the refrigerator to get the ingredients to make supper, I’ll continue to celebrate with them every step of the way and only sigh occasionally.

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