I asked my middle son if he was okay with that because he is convinced he “always” loses (as I used to be as a kid). I told him that was impossible, it was a 50-50 chance (as my mom told me). He said okay. He lost. And started kicking and stomping.
I said, “Well, how about best out of three?”
His brother was a sport and went for it.
This time my middle son prevailed and his older brother was resentful, and the negotiating started anew.
Then they began arguing over whether one of them should get both of the card sleeves (there were two thrown into the batch of cards).
They argued and bickered and threatened each other until I told them that I would take all the cards away if they didn’t stop.
Ultimately, they walked away with their favorite ones and left the rest laid out on the floor to finish later. They had exhausted even themselves.
Before I would let them back at the cards, I insisted they write our friend a thank-you note.
They argued over who would write it. They argued over whose mechanical pencil it was that I had handed them quickly in order to prevent usage of the blue permanent marker that they had chosen. They argued over what it should say. They began kickboxing. Finally I ordered my oldest to walk away, just walk away. His younger brother had been more willing to write the note and was actually in possession of the pencil. Additionally he has better handwriting. I convinced my oldest that he could take a turn and write whatever he wanted (even though he thought that was a dumb idea, but I convinced him that every time we celebrated someone’s birthday at Pasta Night that was how it was done) when his brother was finished.
When it was his turn, he didn’t have anything to add, he just wanted to sign his name. He started to tell his brother about whatever additional “correction” he’d made, and I snatched the card out of his hand and said, “Thank you very much. We don’t need any further discussion about this.”
As I stuffed the card into the envelope, I saw that he had erased his brother’s name and put his own in the top position. I wondered if the one upmanship would ever end. I doubt it. I know grown up brothers who still bicker and argue and negotiate. They just don’t kickbox (in public, anyway).