Inventions, Creations, Experiments

Isn’t Summer Over Yet?

Getting home from the ranch and back into reality has been rough. Last week we slept through Jazzercise and swim team every single morning. We were pretending to be on Mountain Time instead of Central Time. I think there’s a big one hour difference between them.

I never thought I would be back in my own bed wishing I was sleeping in a cabin in the middle of nowhere, but that’s what a week in the West will do to you.

The boys had no activities last week (that we made it to, anyway) so we had a lot of togetherness. It was probably Friday when Finn came into the kitchen to tell me that Drew had splashed him with water.

“Quit telling on your brother and go back outside until dinner’s ready,” I said in exasperation.

“Yes, ma’am,” Finn said. He stood there a minute, uncertainly.

“What is it now?” I snarled.

“Well, I don’t mean to be disrespectful or anything, but at the beginning of the summer you told us to quit whacking each other and to come to you when we had a problem that needed to be worked out,” Finn said.

I was incredulous. That sounded a lot like I had instructed them to tattletale instead of hitting. Why on earth would I have told them that? Then again, at the start of the summer I also told them we’d be writing in our journals every day, and that resolution was forgotten as soon as the new composition books had been purchased. I must have had a good reason for making the rule, but I had forgotten what it was.

I could not find my copy of Parent Power! or my book about
dealing with sibling rivalry, so I had no idea if the experts believe
that hitting rather than tattling is to be encouraged. I do know that
three boys cannot live in one house without using one method or the
other.

The last two weeks have demonstrated that mediating disputes takes a lot more time than applying bandaids, which the boys can do themselves most of the time, anyway. I have things to do, so the tattling had to stop. I called the boys in for a meeting.

When they were assembled in the kitchen, I announced the new rules.

“Guys,” I said, “from now on, there will be no tattling and telling on your brothers. If you have a problem, you resolve it yourselves. I do not want to hear about it.”

“So can we whack each other?” Porter asked.

“Sure,” I said. “Just no hitting anywhere on the head and use only your hands, not other objects to hit your brothers. And if you hit someone, they can hit back. Understood?”

“Cool,” Drew yelled, as they headed back outside.

Now when a boy comes in to tell me what another has done, I say, “You take care of it,” and I set out the box of bandaids on the counter. It’s been quite a success– I’ve put most of our Disney pictures into a scrapbook uninterrupted.

If someone finds Parent Power, will you let me know if I am giving my sons emotional scars? (But don’t tell me unless you have a solution to propose).

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