As a Stay-at-Home Parent, I wear many hats in my home. I am a chef, chauffeur, janitor, repair man, grounds keeper, husband, and a dad. But of all these roles, the one I seem to occupy the most often is that of the Referee. My girls fight a lot. When they fight, it is up to me to mediate.
I remember back before we had kids my wife discussed how many we wanted. We pretty easily settled on having two kids. We both had siblings and wanted that comradery and life-long friend for our future children. A bonus would be having a live-in playmate to keep them busy as well. That way they could occupy each other and give us a bit of a break. Yes, I know this was stupid, but I said a lot of dumb stuff before I had kids.
Now fast forward a few years and we have two girls. It doesn’t matter the time, location, or situation. If both girls are awake and around each other, some sort of disagreement is sure to arise. It will start slowly. Someone will touch a toy, or not share, or look at the other funny. What they are fighting over is not important. I have been left in shock more than once that two seemingly intelligent human beings could fight over something so trivial.
The wronged party will start yelling, announcing the infraction. The defendant will also raise her voice to deny any wrongdoing no matter how obvious it is that she did it. This is also the point I sigh as I stop whatever I am doing and go witness my kids fight over a broken toy, a penny someone found or which one farted in the living room. (it was me)
I will usually try to step in at this point and end the fight. A verbal warning reminding them I am in charge will work most of the time. I learned this technique from my wife who would use it on me when we fight so that I don’t forget who is in charge either.
If the fight continues, it is time for the real crying to begin. This is because apparently, I am the only one listening when I say “don’t hit your sister”. Hitting or pushing seems to be the only way they can express their anger at this point and nothing is stopping it.
After the blow has been struck, they now turn to involve me. I am no longer trying to break up the fight or calm everyone down. I am now judge and jury. Each kid prepares their opening argument. The Prosecutor starts with the classic, “She hit me!” The defendant follows with the also classic “She started it!”
Often this is true. It is rare that the kid doing the hitting started it. But it doesn’t matter because I now have to assess what happened and punish the guilty party. This is also the time remember when I suggested to my wife that we only have dogs instead of kids. Of course, the kids don’t poop in the yard so at least we have that. I punish both kids conveniently sending each up to their room and away from me.
Looking at my own sister, as well as my wife’s siblings I know that they will eventually grow out of this need to constantly battle. They will see the ridiculousness of these battles and stop the constant squabbling and jockeying for attention. From what I hear I only need to wait until they are both in their 20’s. Only 16 years to go, sigh…