Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sick.and.Tired. (of the bickering)

Okay, so.  Richard and I are both sick.and.tired. (cue the Bill Cosby bit) of hearing J & E bicker, whine, fight, tattle, purposefully annoy the other one, and on, and on, and on.  It is seriously an issue.  I know there are nice, kind, positive reinforcement suggestions out there, a la Love and Logic, and I probably have not exhausted those options.  I will say that they got a lot of "practice" being together in a helpful-working-together way last night when they couldn't be nice to each other and I said that they needed practice...and being the awesome Mommy that I am (ignore the fact that I'm saying that with lots of insecurity), I gave them the once in a lifetime (not really) chance to work together on a mission:  making the Kid Craft Room something we can actually stand to look at/walk into/be proud of (make no mistake - the "kid craft room" is nothing fancy.  Really.  We just didn't have another name for "the random room with a bar, just off the living room, that has become where the kids color, treat as a playroom, etc.).  If they couldn't make the room presentable, it would cease to be called the "Kid Craft Room."  So they "practiced" working together and being in each other's presence without an exorbitant amount of discord.  BTW, I've just realized that apparently, my frustration as a Mommy gives way to using a more varied vocabulary in my writing.  Anyway, the mention of that room losing that "title" was totally NOT enough motivation.  But you know what was?  The inability to go to birthday parties of friends the next day.  So the room got picked up, and guess what I got to wake up to this morning?
The refreshing sounds of crying, whining, and bickering.  I know - please contain your envy.  Who wouldn't want to wake up to that kind of beat down authentic display of sibling love and respect?  I handled it:  I subjected them to a long-winded "talkin'-to," and then jumped into the shower, hoping the sibling issues would subside long enough for my going-on-3-days-of-not-having-washed-my-hair-issue to be properly and adequately addressed.  And it was.  In fact, my shower was long enough for me to start mulling over all of my mommy guilt, and how I need to do more of "x,y,z."  For clarification purposes, "x.y,z" = reading parenting books pertaining to the various issues that are exacerbating these "normal" sibling interactions.  I stood there, thinking about how maybe I'm being selfish in not using my time more wisely and directed toward remedying these issues.  I mean, I'm a STAY.AT.HOME.MOM.  Part of my job is to address these things in an effort to help our children become more effective at expressing their differences.  My tendency to use sewing and creating things as a form of therapy - even if it results in random, cute clothes for my children, and random, small surges of income - were taking away from the time that should(?) be spent figuring out how to make our home more harmonious. 

But anyway, I got out of the shower.  At this point, the kids were in the driveway, riding their bikes, while Richard was setting up the car to change the oil.  But what did I hear from our bathroom as I towel-dried my hair?  Bickering.  Richard's frustration with the bickering. 

I got dressed, went out there, exasperated by the realization that we may have hit that stage in parenthood where all we're doing is putting out these fires.  That even though our kids definitely have "good days (or minutes...maybe hours)," the overwhelming frustration of being subjected to their blood-curdling whines (Everett), and endless snapping at the other one (Jillian), sprinkled with the occasional "I don't love you!" (E to J) and resulting, "Moooommmmmmy..." tattling (Jillian) possibly negates those good moments, and definitely leaves me in an almost perpetual state of being on edge. 

So anyway, I marched right on out there.  After being prompted by the insane amount of whining from Everett, I thought about the fact that we try to emphasize that he is a big boy.  We've talked about whining and how it is preferable to use a "big boy voice" - or simply - words.  And in thinking about this, I want him to realize that if he's going to make the choice to not use big boy words, he doesn't need allllll those "big boy toys."  (Disclaimer:  Friends that prefer positive reinforcement techniques, you may want to brace yourselves and/or be done reading this post...you've been warned).  Similarly, Jillian knows when she's doing something that is bothering Everett.  She knows the bickering needs to stop.  The yelling, arguing, etc.  So.  I informed the kids that I will be taking a mental tally, possibly on paper, too...and at the end of the day, the number of times I hear them not using kind, helpful words and tones to work out their differences or express themselves, THAT is the number of things I will be removing from each of their rooms.  I get to choose the item, and it probably will not return to her room. 

Now that I'm in a room further away from the driveway, unable to hear the number of times they've had these verbal altercations, I can't say where we're at in our tallying...Richard is out there, and has said that it's better.  (And since that last talk with the kids, there has been yet ANOTHER talk with them, as Richard had to send them in, after not being able to work with whatever they were doing in the background).  This last talk included me giving them example scenarios of how to handle situations with each other.  They seemed to think that my demonstrating their usual interactions was hilarious.  I explained that it, in fact, is not.  Even in all of its "humor" (I explained to them that while it may seem funny when Mommy does these things, it isn't exactly the same as when they're doing it in combination with yelling, tattling, etc. AND it being for long periods of time), they were able to see that those demonstrated choices of interactions were NOT the correct choices. 

We're at 12:30 in the afternoon, friends.  I'll keep you posted.  Okay, who am I kidding?  No news is good news.  So if I haven't updated here, things are probably going better than usual.  Unless they're not.  And I suppose that's when you'll hear back from me, as I discover this new form of therapy...

Thanks for listening and I'd love to know your thoughts and if you can relate! 

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