09/19/2014 11:28 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Divided Mom Stands. United she Falls.

Nick David via Getty Images

Shh! Don't anyone make a move or say a word. I don't want to scare them off by alerting them to my presence. Right now at this very minute, my three boys are in the other room -- get this -- playing nicely together.

I have not heard one of them yell "Stop it!" in over 20 minutes. I have not had one of them run from room to room searching me out to complain. I have not heard the heaving cries from a child flailing underneath his older brother, or the mocking taunts, usually accompanied by the gyrating victory dance, of "Oh yeah, I'm good, you suck, oh yeah." There have been no tattlers coming to tattle or whiners bemoaning their plight. The house is eerily void of the usual, "He hit me! Get off my chair! You can't play! Leave me alone! I'm telling!!" banter, always punctuated with a loud "MOM!" at the beginning, middle and end.

Right now they are all cooperation and consideration.

I don't know what's gotten into them.

Maybe they are still a bit shaken from earlier, when I found them jumping from the top bunk into a sea of pillows and comforters that they had pulled from the beds. Until I informed them, they had no idea how dangerous that could be. No one strips off my linens unless they're doing laundry.

Waiting for the other shoe to fall -- or hit me in the head, I tentatively peer by the archway to the living room. The floor is covered with figures. They are very busy, setting up armies of Skylanders, army men and Moshi monsters.

Each boy has his own castle to protect.

I listen in on complicated trade negotiations.

Oldest: Can I have Hot Dog? I'll give you five army men and Bowser?

Youngest: No way. I love Hot Dog, but I'll trade you Spyro.

Oldest: What? You have Spyro too? You have all the good guys!

Oh no. Trouble.

Middle: How bout I trade you Trigger Happy?


Oldest: Yeah, OK, I can do that.

Wow. Problem solved and crisis averted without parent intervention.

I love it!

Quietly, I tip-toe away.

But then I realize something. If they really joined forces, I would be outnumbered in movie choices or eating out. I might have to schlepp to Game Stop or the pool if they all agreed. Oh God, I might have to get a dog.

At times, I had relied on their division somewhat to keep from doing things I didn't want to do. Alone they were a single, sometimes whiny voice, but united they were a force, their powers tripled. If they really started working together, they would be unstoppable!


"Hey guys," I call out, testing the waters, "What do you want for dinner?"

A chorus of division immediately responds.




Whew. Still Safe.


Uh oh...Trouble.

This essay originally appeared on