Mom’s Voice: Sister Squabbles

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Sally and Janey Fales
Sally and Janey Fales

Do sisters really fight over clothes?

In our house they do, and I’m so sick of it, I’m ready to donate every last stitch of clothing laying on the floor, hanging in closets, or folded in baskets not yet put away, and in their stead, issue my girls a uniform lacking any style or pattern. This is at least one area that Amish moms have one up on me.

For Janey’s 13th birthday in August, her sister Sally, almost two years her junior, presented her with a handmade coupon. The coupon was valid for a one time use of any article of her sister’s clothing—a free pass to borrow something sans even the smallest quibble. A truly selfless and generous gift from their standpoint.

Janey never used it until this week, when she announced she wanted to wear a specific shirt of Sally’s.

Sally handed her the shirt and ripped the coupon.

Unaware of any of this, I heard yelling and fighting between the sisters. I didn’t know the particulars, but heard enough to get the gist.

I accused them of being spoiled and having too many clothes.  Each side stated their case as we were rushing to get out of the door.

Poor little brother, sort of left to fend for himself, trailed behind, offering his two cents although no one was listening.

All told, Janey decided she wasn’t going to wear the tank top after all and took it off, bringing it back to Sally. She told her she had changed her mind and wanted the coupon back. Sally, claiming the coupon was already used, said it could not be given back. A fight erupted, and Janey threatened to rip the shirt.

Are you still with me? Because at this point I wouldn’t blame you if you had stopped reading and skipped over to read Edie Crabtree’s book column, which is no doubt more intellectually stimulating than this.

On the drive to school I berated the girls, shaming them for treating each other so poorly. I pointed out the fact that life is short and you never know what can happen day to day. “Mark my words,” I said, “you will regret treating each other this way.”

I didn’t stop there. “People get sick, people don’t live forever.”

The proverbial table was turned in an instant.

“Great, now I’m depressed,” chimed in Janey.

“Is this wood?” Sally asked with her fist hovering above the dash of the car. She knocked on it and said, “Mom just jinxed us and one of us will probably drop dead today.”

Janey meanwhile calmly stated that she “completely disagreed with my parenting,” adding that “I would never say that to my child.”

The girls were once again united, the fight two minutes before, ancient history. Allied forces against a common enemy: Mom.


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