When I had boys, I was prepared for a little roughhousing. After all, even my little princess has been known to jump on couches and assault playmates with very little cause. (What am I saying? Especially my little princess!) But, despite my interests in both gender studies and neuropsychology, and despite the fact that my own siblings and I engaged in spirited sparring matches every time my parents left us unattended, I was not prepared for Fight Club.
With Maddux, the aggression always has a reason. Yes, that reason might be “You have that toy and I want it,” but at least she’s not getting in fights for the sake of, well, getting in fights. But the boys. Oh, the boys! Where does one even begin?
As soon as Thomas was old enough to grab, he began pulling James’ hair and poking his face. We’d be shopping — Thomas in the seat, James in the basket of the shopping cart. The second I turned to peruse a grocery-store shelf, Thomas’ hand would dart out and grab a tuft of hair. James would launch a hair-grabbing attack of his own. As I retrieved my merchandise, back still turned, the boys would be locked in a most vicious hair-pulling contest — IN COMPLETE SILENCE. The second they sensed me turning to look, however, their hands dropped to their sides and they’d pretend they weren’t just trying to scalp one another. Because by now, every guy knows the first rule of Fight Club is “Do not talk about Fight Club.”
Now that Thomas is crawling and climbing, the time-out corner has become our new mixed martial arts arena. When James goes to sit in time-out (often voluntarily, for no reason at all, because he’s a weird kid like that), Thomas will initiate an impromptu match by climbing on top of James and whacking at him with both arms.
Like UFC, there are no rules. Knee to the groin? Why not! Eye-poking? Totally legal. Head-butting? Awesome! Hitting someone with a magnetic train or other prop? Pretty much required. Naturally, baby-riding — along with James-riding — features prominently in their matches. Today, the boys tried to squash each other with a folding Diego chair until they both wound up caught in the legs, squealing to be freed. Yesterday, there was a toe-biting incident.
But heaven forbid that the referee should try to intervene. Both of the boys will cry piteously until they are told they are no longer in time out (they usually weren’t to begin with), upon which the pugilists resume their rowdy, giggling death match.
Now, I know some people think it’s only nat’ral fer boys to ‘rassle. But those people also make mystery liquor in their carburetors and use loaded shotguns as decor. So James gets time-outs for fighting. Which is not good, because the time-out corner is the boys’ Fight Club venue.
Me: “You’re in time out for fighting!”
James: “WAAAAAAHHH! I be-wanna be-fiiiiighhht!”
Thomas: “GOO GOO GAAAAAAAA!” (Translation: “Awesome. Fight’s ON!”)
So today I tried using two separate time-out spots, even though you are not supposed to give babies time-outs. Unfortunately, it just resulted in Thomas leaving his spot in a flash, building up momentum and gleefully head-butting a delighted James before I could scoop him up.
So now the hunt is on for a new auxiliary time-out spot. Or maybe two nice little glassed-in timeout spots like the ones I show the kids when we’re watching hockey games. On the other hand, having their very own penalty boxes might be incentive to fight, and we all know they don’t need that.
So for now, Fight Club has three rules. Do not talk about Fight Club. Do NOT talk about Fight Club. And whoever wears Mom out first is the winner.