“How do I stop my kids from fighting? What did YOU do?” The earnest young mom of toddlers waited for my answer. And of course I didn’t have one!
I hate it when my kids fight. And yes, that’s present tense. They’re all big, practically grown, but the bickering continues. It provides a constant background of noise as they constantly hash out pack order, differences of opinion, and sometimes invented grievances. It wears me out as much now as when they were tiny. I WANT it to stop! I hate it! I just want everyone to get along!
When Baby A and Baby B returned from their respective out-of-state summer camp jobs last week, I actually saw progress though. It gave me a tiny bit of hope.
The squabble started in the kitchen, paraded through the living room, and landed in the boys’ shared bedroom. At last, the door slammed shut, muffling the angry, raised voices. Those voices continued to rise and fall in contention and strife. Occasionally, the cadence of things dipped below what I could hear. I picked up the occasional, reasoned tone of voice. They were clearly being coached on how to handle things, how to resolve the difference peaceably. I smiled to myself. Good. Let Mountain Man deal with these nearly-grown man-cubs.
When I went back to our bedroom to put away a load of clean clothes, however, there was Mountain Man, puttering on his computer. “Aren’t you in talking to the boys?” I asked in confusion. He looked up at me blankly. Uh, no. He wasn’t even hearing the angry bickering. Hmmmmmmm.
A few minutes later, the music in the kitchen resumed and I heard the clatter of dishes being rinsed and stowed in the dishwasher. I HAD to check this out!
There were Baby A and Baby B, working together, discussing the lyrics of the song blaring into the room. After I turned down the volume, I asked, “So did Dad help you work through your fight a few minutes ago? What were you guys doing in your bedroom?”
In tandem, the boys rolled their eyes just a little and both said, also in unison, “We were working it out ourselves, Mom!”
Part of me wanted to roll my eyes right back at them and say, “Well, it’s about TIME!” I contented myself with a matter-of-fact, “Well good,” and left the kitchen.(And secretly wondered how long it would take before another fight broke out, but I kept that wondering to myself.)
I always thought that growing up meant they’d no longer bicker and squabble. Maybe someday it will mean that, but today, it means that they at least know to go to a private place, shut the door, and reason with each other. Those skills may actually have more application than most of things I’ve thought they should learn.
The bickering isn’t completely over, but today I realized that my responsibility to do something about it…IS!