I’m not sure why I selected the title above. Lack of creativity today, I suppose, but I’m sure this problem goes way back to even the 1st century. I mean, surely those people had children back then and surely those children were no less angelic than my own. (And by “angelic” I mean the equivalent of ten adorable little fingers scraping their nails down a chalkboard.)
So how do we teach our children to be kind to one another, to respect each other’s opinions, and love them even when we don’t like them?
My first instinct when an arm-swinging, toy-throwing, full-on war breaks out is to divide and conquer. Today went a little something like this:
I put Carson in his room and pulled Olivia aside and calmly (and I use that term loosely) explain, “God commands us to love one another, even when they stick our favorite Lego Friends doll, Samantha, up their nose. Boogers can be washed away, but you will only have one little brother.” Hearing that sentence out loud momentarily disabled my senses. “God help me, you’ll only have ONE little brother!!!” Then I took a deep breath, smoothed out my skirt and straightened my apron (because I’m dressed, of course, like June Cleaver at all times), and sent her to her room.
Then I did the same with little brother. I said, “Listen, I know Samantha fit nicely in your nostril and I’m absolutely certain she wouldn’t have gotten stuck like the Batman Squinkie did, but when your sister asks you nicely to give Samantha back, you should not put it in your underwear. Understand?”
Of course he understands. And then they lived happily ever after. <insert screeching tires sound here>
Wrong! As hard as I try, once these two have had enough of each other, it doesn’t matter if I threaten to take away the x-box, or force them to eat my Portobello mushroom enchiladas (which, by the way, are delicious despite what they say), they will refuse to get along. I usually hear one of them hollering, “I hate you!” and when I walk in the room I get, “Oh, I was just telling the table I hated it.” Uh huh, you can’t fool me, kid. I invented that one!
So today I opted for something different. I won’t lie and say I came up with the idea myself because, Lord knows, now that Pinterest has come out there’s no need. As quick as you can type in “How do I force my kids to get along without killing them,” into the address field, BAM! You have an idea.
I seriously did not think it would work. I didn’t tell them what I was going to do. I just forcefully shoved gently placed Olivia inside the shirt and then crammed slipped Carson in next to her. I got the expected, “But he’s touching me,” and, “She stepped on my foot,” and of course the, “Mommy it’s too tight, I can’t breathe. No, really. I can’t breath.” So I took the scissors and snipped the neckline (sorry, honey) and voila! A no cost solution to, “She filled my dump truck with leftover spaghetti.”
Afraid they might literally kill each other inside that shirt, I set the timer for 10 minutes. Olivia cried and said she had to go to the bathroom but I didn’t cave. I told her to either cross her legs or take her brother. Her choice was to pee on her brother so I promptly replied, “Go ahead.” She looked incredulous. “Mom! You’re the worst mother ever!” (Hey, when they say that, you know you’re doing something right.)
I’m not sure what happened during those 10 minutes, but as I sit here the two of them are playing Twister…yes the game where you actually have to touch each other, and they’re laughing wildly. It’s amazing. It’s been almost two hours since the shirt and not a single raised voice or fist to the mouth since. I sure hope it lasts, but if not the next time they’ll be stuck to each other for 15 minutes. I think I’ll even keep it in my bag so next time we have an episode in the grocery store like we did today, I can whip it out. Maybe eventually we can even cancel their long-standing exorcist appointments! Nah, that’s just crazy talk.