“Don’t touch me!” “Stop looking at me!” “Get away!”
They usually get along pretty well, but we do have our share of squabbles. Car rides are prime places for the grumpies to emerge, especially when The Boy and The Dancing Queen are seated side by side.
To be fair, our last trip was really long and they did great for hours, but the strain was too much, and eventually the bickering began.
As parents, our response is about as predictable as their arguments.
They start with the angry outburst – “Scoot over, your squishing me!”
We respond with, “Okay guys, let’s speak kindly to one another.”
It escalates to the whiney – “Stop it! I said stop it!”
We try a firmer voice – “Hey, you two. That’s enough.”
The peak is usually shrieking or tears, depending on the offending party – “GET ON YOUR SIDE! STOP TOUCHING ME!”
And, of course, we match it with a frustrated – “YOU TWO STOP FIGHTING RIGHT NOW!”
In a short car ride, we’d be home by now, but on this trip the peak hit with an hour to go and we knew that didn’t bode well for our sanity.
That is when The Man had a stroke of genius. “Okay, guys,” he said, “You are going to do dishes for three days – together. It is time for you to learn how to get along with each other.”
Silence. After a time, it started up again, and The Man responded calmly with, “Okay, that’s another day of dishes.” They had a week by the time we got home.
That was almost two weeks ago and I have an amazing tale to tell!
When it comes to my kids, if there is a fight it is usually between The Boy and The Dancing Queen. They are like oil and water and have never really gotten along. Oh, there has been the occasional truce, short interludes of peace and companionship, but they were few and far between. I have wracked my brain trying to think of ways to get them to love each other, to play nice together, to just get along, for crying out loud!
Well, we found the answer.
After a week of working together, they are getting along splendidly! They really learned how to communicate with each other. They learned to respect one another and they found something to like in each other. It is amazing! It took a few days. It took a few fights. But there were a lot of dishes to wash and a lot of messes to clean. As they worked together towards a goal, they found out that they really make a good team. Now, I find them reading to each other on the couch, playing with each other outside, building forts together in the living room. It is like a miracle!
The day after they finished their sentence, they had a little spat. I calmly looked up from my knitting and said, “Oh, it looks like you guys need another day.” And they did the dishes that day, too.
But I don’t think that they will be doing it again. And if they do, I have a plan. A plan that works beautifully.