Keep Em Separated

Posted by on Jun 13, 2012 in Mothering | 1 comment

The past two weeks have been a bit troubling. The behavior of the two oldest children in our home was out of control. I took them outside and made them run. I took them to new locations to let them play. I reminded them of the rules. I quoted verses from the Bible and made them memorize them. We talked about putting off the bad stuff and putting on the good. We tried structure. We tried destructuring. Nothing seemed to bring about any change in behavior. By 5pm Monday and Tuesday, I was emotionally exhausted. Nothing I did – reward based or punishment oriented brought about any change. I’ve never been in this spot before. I’ve never not been able to control their behavior with my words for an extended period of time. I was starting to loose — my grip? hope? hair?

My dad called last night to chat about something else and he asked how the kids had been. I told him. My parents always kind of laugh at the stories about the naughty things the kids do, in part because they can remember when I did those same exact maddening things and in part because, most of the time, it kind of reveals how smart they are.

[Sidenote: Anyone who believes children are innately good, must not be using their noggins for much. I have NEVER had to teach my children how to DISobey. I have NEVER had the opportunity to give a how-to lesson about selfishness or greed or lying or screaming or sticking out your tongue – not once. Being good? Obedience? These are the things that consume me and keep my ears perked up while I silently pray for wisdom. It’s not hard to be bad, but it’s impossible to train righteousness. Without the Holy Spirit, it’s all just behavior modification which is the most time consuming and disappointing way to train a human.]

My dad chuckled when I told him about the number of times they were instructed not to hit, pillow fight, break stuff, bite, spitting, et al. It was almost as if they’d been allowed to hang out with Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O and were now acting out every move they’d witnessed. I was waiting for the tasers to come out but drew the line at spitting instead and made the one who’d done the spitting sit in a chair until Jud got home. Jud handed down some fatherly punishments and talked in a fatherly way and things were better for the next hour and half. Gideon conked out in bed and Piper, never one to loose a battle, put surprise toys on top of his covers – that way he could come and wake us up in the middle of the night to complain about it. The escalation was getting ridiculous.

What Piper didn’t know as she planted those toy bombs, was that the solution had already been discussed and the plan set into action.

The underlying problem? Too much time together.
The solution? Splitting them up.

Gideon is an introvert. He needs space and time without his little sister’s extroverted bossy narrating of his every move. Piper is uncomfortably sandwiched in between a quiet, Lego loving, Star Wars reenacting boy who does not want to play Prince Charming and a delightful little baby that requires quite a bit of Mama’s time and energy. She’s feeling lost so she clings to him. He’s feeling smothered so he wallops her. Ah, family dynamics.

My dad picked Gideon up when he was done with work today about 3pm. Piper painted a really beautiful picture while I cleaned up and then helped me make cookies and supper. She was all smiles, all ‘yes ma’am’, all the way she knows she should be while the baby napped and we hung out, just the two of us. Gideon proudly asked YiaYia, when she got home, “Do you know where my Mommy is?” When YiaYia said no, he answered “At her house! I’m here all by myself!”

The best part of this little forced down time was that, when I just TOLD them about it, they reformed. He had something to look forward to. At first she, feeling desperate about being alone, cried. It didn’t take too long, though, for her to realize that the upside for her was going to be just as big as it was for him. He packed his backpack with his overnight things and a few Lego creations. She got to paint. I got my sanity back.

One Comment

  1. We’re singin’ the same song sister!!!!! Except the personalities described are swapped in my home. He does the smothering and she does the walloping…mostly….except that somestimes his smothering feels like walloping to her, when in fact sometimes he thinks he’s helping (bossing, controlling) her….anyway…it’s all the same. And I’m about bald as well. Sheesh. Savior, come in and redeem this behavior modification!

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