Seven and Five. Girl and Boy. Hopefully friends for life.
There are sweet days and loving days but sure as rain, there are days where they can’t stand the sight of each other. Where their anger gets the better of them. Where they make bad decisions and end up sitting in time out while their victim receives medical treatment.
Oftentimes, we can see a thunderstorm of rage brewing. Many times we stand back and watch it happen so we can let the kids exercise their problem-solving skills. Their emotions are intense, their arguments are ironclad and their compromising abilities are nearly nonexistent.
I feel like these are very delicate times right now. We are at the precipice of how they will handle conflict in their teen and adult lives. This time is also shaping their thoughts and opinions of Mom and Dad. How we handle them in this moment shapes how they will trust us when things get serious later on in life.
No pressure or anything. Just over here trying not to royally screw up my kids.
As silly as these arguments are right now, we have to acknowledge their feelings while we delicately intertwine logic and reason into the solution. At the same time, I don’t want children who grow up feeling entitled to anything. I want my kids to know that this world owes you nothing. That life is not fair. Sometimes it won’t go your way. Keeping score is useless. There is no equality. We go case-by-case, not by who was right last time or who has been right more, etc.
This does not go over well most times, but I hope we are ingraining something into their minds. Do not expect fairness. We won’t be unreasonable as parents- in fact, we pledge to be rational, logical and objective. If you present a case to me that doesn’t lead to a favorable outcome for you, do not ever think I will side with you because I sided with the other sibling in the last argument I had to referee.
So when girl child gets a cool package of Legos for her birthday and boy child starts to play with it without asking (even though girl child wasn’t playing with it at the time), when she wants to play with it, boy child has to give up the toy even though he’s in the middle of building the coolest whatever. It belongs to girl child and it’s a very recent birthday present. Boy child thinks this decision is unfair and he’s right. He had them first. But life isn’t fair. The toy didn’t belong to him and the owner wanted the toy back.
Translate that into adulthood. Any myriad of examples. Borrowing a movie, a pretty sweater, yard tools, or even a car (if you’re lucky enough to have such a nice friend!). When the owner wants it back, you can’t pitch a fit and say “but I had it first!”
There’s a bit of crying and pouting in our house right now. Rest assured, each child has an appropriate amount of toys, care and love in our house. But they are also getting a good life lesson on a daily basis. My kids are going to be scrappy, determined, hard-working kids when they grow up- even if they end up thinking Mom and Dad were too hard on them. Deep down inside they’ll know we were right and we’ll know that they’ll know. That’s good enough for me.