How long does the crying and bickering last or the arguing and shoving from older ones? Years, my friend, years! Unless something life-changing happens and even then sons and daughters will probably be old men and women cursing about some past issue from childhood. So you might as well continue to play mediator and avoid the temptation to play favorites because there is nothing so special about any child that we need to put them on pedestals like statues.
I had been up in arms about the latest fighting match where the little one slapped the bigger one first. I had made it my business not to handle things in the most caring, nicest, and sweetest way this time (yeah there were many other similar events that weekend). What I did was what many of you parents, who are already at your wits end about other matters that need your attention, you yell right along with them!
"Get your...You know what if you...What are you thinking...?" The boys are crying and I am ready to pack them up and send them anywhere just so long as they are out of my presence! But then I got wise quickly, I decided what they needed was space and plenty of it!
"You go in that room with your toys and you go in that one! You have 20 seconds to get what you want and stop being in the same room with your brother!" Sometimes what you are use to calling a living room, guest room, or dining room has to become one of your children's playroom especially if they share a room. "Now I expect quiet and if I don't get it, I am taking my white garbage bag and I am going to start collecting toys to give away to those kids who will appreciate them!" They got quiet, real quiet. You could almost here them thinking, "Give my toys to some kids, this woman has lost her mind! I better do what she says!"
When I looked up at the clock, far too much time had passed of Fric and Frac playing together. It was hours of togetherness. Too much for even adults living together would want to spend in the same room. As parents, we abuse statements like, "Go play...Play with your brother...Play together!" Now how long is playing together suppose to last peacefully?
I have been reminding myself lately to make time and space for my children to play alone, work alone, create alone, and do whatever else you tell them ALONE, because if you don't, you will sound like this, "Leave me alone! Didn't I tell you...Stop hitting your brother! Why can't you guys get along? If I have to tell you again...I mean it this time, go play! Stop bothering me!"
Nicholl McGuire is the author of When Mothers Cry.