I grew up the youngest of 3 boys and let me tell you we use to fight. I’m talking knockdown, drag out brawls. There were no rules, just trying your best to inflict as much physical harm against your brother as you could. We would end up bruised, bloodied and scratched. I remember some fights starting on one side of the house and working their way to the other side. One time, I actually hit my brother Mark with a sledgehammer. Granted I was young and the hammer was as big as me but I still hit him with it.
Fights were usually spur of the moment things too. I can’t remember it resulting after days of animosity but rather one did something to tick the other off. We would get mad and it would erupt in an orgy of violence. But here is the thing, after we tried to beat the hell out of each other, things calmed down and went back to normal relatively quick. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for us to start out playing a basketball game, get mad, duke it out and half an hour to an hour later finish the game. I don’t know if that is how it goes for the majority of brothers but anecdotally I don’t think it is far off.
This brings me to my 3 lovely daughters and the fact it has caused me to think girls are much meaner than boys. See my daughters rarely fight in the physical sense. I don’t think any of them have ever punched the other although the youngest use to be a bit of a face scratchier. There is the occasional push or shove of the body or face but nothing even coming close to what my brothers and I did. Girls do not take part in physical combat, they engage in mental warfare and it is much more devastating.
Girls don’t seem to let things lay, their meanness is built on top of layers. What I mean by that is if my brother broke my toy it could lead to a fight. However, once that fight was over, it was over. I never really held it against my brother long term and any subsequent fights would be for a totally unrelated issues. With my girls it seems like they keep track of each slight and hold onto the grudge, then another slight piles on the original…and they keep piling on. When they fight it isn’t about the thing that triggered it but a weeks’ worth of transgressions committed.
The thing is my girls don’t even need a trigger to be mean to one another. I’ll give you an example. A few years ago my oldest was being bad, so we made her go to bed about a half hour earlier than usual. Her bedroom sits across from the bathroom. When I went to take my middle child to get ready for bed in the bathroom, she stopped in front of the bathroom (and my oldest bedroom door where she was still sobbing) and said “thank you Dad for letting me stay up later tonight.” I didn’t let her stay up later, it was her usual bed time but it was a chance to take a dig at her older sister. There was no build up; they hadn’t been fighting but my second daughter (who is a master at these kinds of things) saw an opportunity and took it.
Girls pick at your confidence, they don’t retaliate and try to inflict massive pain with physical violence, they break you down slowly and over time. Honestly I’m in awe of it. I couldn’t hurt my brothers that bad, no amount of punches to the face could compare to a pointed word or criticism. I only wish at that age I could devastate my brothers like my daughters do to each other. I admit the thought of my girls punching each other bothers me, but it actually might be more merciful then how they really fight.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to portray my daughters has horrible, mean spirited or hurtful people. Let’s be honest though in a house full of girls, much like my house full of boys, you fight for survival to a point. You subconsciously fight to be the dominate female/male in the house and your biggest rivals are your siblings. My brothers and I just did it much more different and I would argue humane way. I could recover from a fat lip and bloody nose; it is much harder to recover from a sharp word and poignant criticism.
I say that equal parts jealously and respect. Much like most things in life women find the smarter, more subtle way to get the job done. Men like to beat their chest, be loud and be physical; women know the more refined, more effective way to accomplish the same thing. Not only do they accomplish the same thing they do it in a much more long lasting and demoralizing way. I have to be honest it hurts me to see them do it to each other. Nothing bothers me more than when my girls fight. As a parent who grew up with siblings you know it is a way of life but it still eats at you to see it. I know I can never stop them from fighting or being mean to each other and I’m starting to think I might not want to. Because if they aren’t fighting each other….they might turn their meanness on ME and I don’t think I could handle that.