In the past 20 minutes, my kids have asked me to settle the following disputes: B'Stell (that's the 2014 spelling of Buh-Stell, since I have even less time now. Maybe by 2015 she'll morph into just Buh and then she'll stop having a name altogether once my communication devolves into a series of grunts. You know who had the right idea? George Foreman with his five sons named George. It's so embarrassing when I call the baby "buh-stuh-uh-the-baby" like, at the doctor. So, as I was saying, B'Stell . . .) stole Bee's doll's shoes. Tragedy! Then somehow Bee smelled cookies on her sister's breath that we ate behind her back and so now I have to get up to give Bee a cookie to even the score, a cookie that is sitting out on a platter. Also, her sister crumpled her treasure map. Here, I'll solve all their problems: HANDLE IT YOURSELF, PEOPLE.
If one kid has a problem with the other kid, why should I get involved? Look, unless there is blood or actual injustice (we're talking apartheid or someone under five getting ahold of a pen) I just do not need to know. I really don't care who stole your doll's shoes, okay? I never cared. I don't care. The caring, it just will not happen. If I worked up a care about every doll shoe or who's turn it is to ride their Barbie up the dream house elevator, I would be all out of cares by like 9:00AM. General house rule: Don't be rude. If it's your fault, turn it around and if it's not your fault, work it out.
Crap. We've come to the part in the story when I'm inclined to say things like, "you know what my parents got us for Christmas so we could settle disputes? Boxing gloves." Then I remember that I rode standing up in convertibles when I was three and saw hookers barfing when I was ten (that was actually an awesome time) and I realize I can't pull the ole, "back in my day" style of argument when it comes to parenting. I hate that. But I can rely on my own instincts and observations, which tell me settling minor disputes between my kids is not the way to go.
Let's discuss the tactic I've been using and you are free to judge.
When kid #2 was old enough to get in arguments and vaguely hold her own, I started telling my kids if they fight, I'm taking the toy in question away from both of them. Seriously, if the noise of their dispute is enough to interrupt me, I just go take away whatever it is and poof, problem solved. Once I even threw a toy in the trash. I can't wait until my kids get blogs and tell their Facebook (well, whatever 2020 Facebook is. Spacebook?) that I was a terrible parent who swallowed up their toy room with a garbage truck. I guess it will be partly true! Since they're not violent or abusive to each other (I mean, there is a line. I'm not running a cock fight in here) I just don't see why I need to get in their relationship. Sisters need to work out their own politics. Barbies now, how to split my jewelry when I'm dead later.
They usually seem to work it out pretty quickly in light of this rule, which makes me wonder why they forgot today and are trying to bring me in the fray. Curious. I reminded them it's their life and then I got on the computer to come tell you fine people. I'm honestly usually proud of how well they get along so I don't know what is up today.
For anyone who thinks I'm harsh and mean (which I am), I don't just throw my hands up at every interaction. As a matter of fact, a large part of my day seems to be directing them with their feelings. "Now you're feeling frustrated. You're disappointed you can't have fishy crackers for dinner. It's okay to be angry you can't eat black snow." When it comes to the sisters interacting with each other, they're largely on their own unless something is truly going on, like when Buh-Stell tried to climb in the toilet and Bee yelled for me to fish her out. We can only raise our kids. We can't control them or their relationships.
UPDATE: Guess what? The doll's shoes are back on the right feet and the Barbie house is running as smoothly as Martha Stewart's face. Suddenly, I wish I had a sister. See? Referees are not (always) needed! I wonder which one will wind up with my engagement ring? My money's on Boss. It's always the quiet ones.
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Filed under: Large liberal family