By John Jericiau
Now that our two oldest boys are over five years old, they are definitely developing their own personalities and forming strong opinions about what they feel and believe. One of them loves purple and pink, and feels bad for all the other boys who don’t enjoy the fabulousness of those colors. “Some boys love girl things, and some girls love boy things”, he says as he gathers together his ten Barbies and six Ponies (the Little ones) for a bath. The other one declares his love for blue and green and gold, and purple is not bad, but “liking pink means you ARE a girl”, he repeats from his lessons on the playground at school.
The boys lose focus on that heated discussion (since it’s been over 5 minutes, which is the maximum amount of time that their brains will allow them to think about one thing), and they move on to the next important topic: what to watch on television during the precious minutes that they are given access. “Strawberry Shortcake, Sofia the First, or The Backyardigans, please!” begs one. “Avengers, Ben 10, or Superheroes!” pleads the other. Cries soon follow, and Daddy the Referee has to come in to mediate the negotiations.
And so it goes on and on like that, day after day. Different kids want different things. I can only believe that things will start ramping up when our youngest son (only 4 months old now) starts asking for Dora and Diego. But this is all okay with us. Variety is the spice of life. We wouldn’t want them to be the same – never in a million years. But would love it if they could just breathe, understand that differences are okay, and live with each other with the help of the elements of harmony (which are six supernatural artifacts, each of which represent an element of friendship which are used to restore and enforce the balance of peace and order). In other words, stop fighting!
Okay, kids have and always will fight and argue. I get it. But the worst is when they turn their anger and resentment toward me, the parent. Luckily it’s few and far between, but it does happen that their feelings overflow and spill into Daddy-Son territory. And so much of the time, it catches me completely off guard. How can something so trivial, like:
– The head of a toy (that has just been rediscovered under the bed after a one year absence) falls off
– The child is limited to only 12 cookies after lunch
– The tip of a string bean on the dinner plate has come in contact with the pile of delicious chicken nuggets
lead to phrases like this?:
– Do you want me to kick you out of this house?
– I hate you!
– I’m never gonna talk to you again!
– Noooooooooooooooooooooooo !!!!
We did time outs until they weren’t in vogue anymore, so they’re out. Hitting and spanking, as cathartic as they might sound, are definitely a step in the wrong direction. Rationalizing, reasoning, and calmly presenting my side appear to have little effect. This brings me to punishing.
– No SpongeBob for a week.
– No more playing with Twilight Sparkle.
– You can’t go to your basketball game this weekend!
– I’m cancelling your play date!
Now they listen, but Daddy feels terrible. I see the hurt in their eyes and it melts my heart. Please just can’t we all get along? I know that in 15 minutes you won’t even remember how sad you are now or how mad you are now, so can’t we just move on?
Obviously we cannot. Daddy wants you to learn that there are consequences for bad behavior. There are ground rules. There are societal norms. But Daddy loves you, and he always will. If you really behave for the rest of the day, maybe Twilight Sparkle will be waiting for you when you wake up tomorrow?
Now how about you and I go get a big pink ice cream cone?