When My Kids Fight

Okay, my kids don’t fight or bicker or argue that often, but when they do, I have two reactions.

The first reaction, a fast twitch reaction, is: “I wish they would stop.”

The second is slower, more considered: “Good.”

Good because, as long as no one gets hurt, fighting, bickering, and arguing means that my kids have broken out of parallel play mode. Have broken out of the “I’ll be in my room / video game / feelings / friendships, you be in yours, and I’ll see you at dinner” mode.

The unpleasant sounds of true disagreement signify that my kids are sharing something, or trying to share. They are figuring out what’s fair for both of them. They are splitting up what’s left of the ice cream. The talking, yelling, arguing tells me that they are trying to leap over a chasm that they haven’t yet closed or defined or negotiated. If they’re disagreeing honestly, and get to the other side, I know they will grow as individuals and as a unit bound together by time and space and the fate of being in the same family.

I feel the same way about my school, especially now, especially when things are as difficult and uphill and consequential as they have ever been. Come September, when we’re half-in our school building, if you don’t hear us bickering, if we’re not disagreeing beyond a mere slouch or crossed set of arms, if we’re not arguing about who gets to hold the remote, then we’re not fully in it and we’re not fully building the school our students deserve.

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