I have a four-year-old and a two-year-old, which means that the fighting in my house is pretty much NON-STOP.
A train with one wheel left? My kids will roll about the floor in an epic battle of wills to secure dominion over it.
Buzz Lightyear doll missing an arm? Suddenly represents the fulfillment of one boy's every desire the instant his brother touches it.
Broken Peach Crayon? IT'S MINE!!! I HAD IT FIRST!!! Allow me to attempt to rip your ear off to convey the depth of my conviction!
I tell you, folks, feral animals fighting over a carcass in the street could teach these kids a thing or two about decorum. I've come to accept that the dynamic is not changing anytime soon, so now I'm just trying to define my role in the arena.
My four-year-old obviously has a size advantage over his younger brother, so my initial instinct when the perma-fighting began was to intervene in order to protect the two-year-old from his older bro.
I'd watch the four-year-old just saunter over and flat out MUG his little brother for the race car he'd been playing with and I would rush to get involved.
"Hey! Give that back! Your brother was playing with it!"
Brother #1 would then reluctantly hand said car back to Brother #2. Perhaps a coerced apology would be issued. Peace would be restored for exactly FOUR POINT EIGHT seconds.
At which point Brother #2 decides to put the race car down. Then Brother #1 picks it up, thus breaking Brother #2's heart and resulting in frenzied and high pitched cries of:
"MINE!!!!! MINE!!!!!! MINE!!!!!!"
At which point I am rendered utterly confused. I mean, whose #*&;^$@ turn is it now??? I'd carefully established that it was Brother #2's turn. But then when he decided to put it down, I have to think that some sort of abandoned property statute would have come into play. Right? I don't know -- by now both children are shrieking so loudly that I'm having trouble forming thoughts.
I've entered the murky world of TODDLER JUSTICE.
It all goes wrong so quickly.
Let's say I decide that Brother #1 should have a 5-minute turn and then it will be the Brother #2's turn. 2 minutes and thirty five seconds into his turn, Brother #1 abandons the toy and Brother #2 claims it. Now begins the 5 minute turn of Brother #2, right? Except then he puts it down 3 minutes in. HOW MUCH TIME IS LEFT ON THE CLOCK?
I spent several weeks lost in the morass of it all - grabbing toys away and redistributing them with a great sense of fairness only to end up with everyone in the room furious at me.
I was beaten.
So I've learned for the most part to leave the boys to their own devices. Sure the older one is bigger, but the younger one is wiley and is not afraid to use "the world's most annoying scream"TM to his advantage. So really, it's a pretty fair fight.
Any form of violence is shut down and appropriate time outs are issued, but otherwise I'm retired from the toddler justice business.