I’m sitting here in my living room listening to two of my children fight. Why am I not interfering you ask? Because The Pastor and I firmly believe in letting our children “work it out”. We feel that, in some ways, childhood is a dress rehearsal for adulthood where you get to try everything out and figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. This is how you avoid things like some guy running into his boss’ office howling “Jennifer in accounting bit me!”. We feel that if we allow our children to express their negative emotions freely as children, they will be able to do so calmly and rationally as adults.
That or we are just WAY too tired and lazy to deal with one more argument. Yeah, probably that last one.
The most interesting thing about not interfering with my children’s arguments is that I get to see The Pastor and I reflected in a very raw way. Right now Baby Snarky, who is five, and his seven year old super huggy sister are fighting. Without hearing any words I can tell that Baby Snarky wants something and Huggy is preventing him from having it. This is how EVERY SINGLE argument between these two starts. Now, Baby Snarky argues more like I do (the right way) and Huggy fights just like The Pastor (the annoying way). Baby Snarky starts off with a passionate and emotional explanation of why he needs…whatever it is that he thinks he needs. Huggy smiles sweetly and in an overly calm, syrupy, joy filled voice says something that amounts to “I’m (not really) sorry, but I have decided that I will not allow you to have whatever it is you so desperately want.
This is when I…I mean BABY SNARKY switches into a slightly more desperate mode. My…I mean HIS voice goes up an octave as he explains, once again, his completely valid and logical reasons for his needs. The Pasto… I mean HUGGY appears to be thoroughly enjoying her power trip as she offers up her sweetest smile and simply says “No.”
This is when the tears start. Baby Snarky begins to weep and dramatically throws himself across the closest piece of furniture. Complete with the wrist on the forehead. If the tears are ignored, the sobbing will escalate in volume until somebody says something. That something is usually a very calm “Well, I guess you should have thought of this earlier.” or “You know, you did this to yourself.” I, of course, would never resort to the dramatic tears. I have no idea where he gets that move from.
When the tears fail, the shouting starts. The shouting is usually less than rational. Today’s shouting was “YOU’RE NOT A VERY GOOD SISTER AND I’M PRETTY SURE YOU DON’T LOVE ME ANYMORE!!” This is a huge improvement. In the past there would have been teeth sinking into flesh long before this point. While the biting usually brings an immediate end to the argument, it also always ends up in an imprisonment in our bedroom while we think about using our words. I am, of course, talking about Baby Snarky. Not myself. Just so we’re clear.
So now the truth is out. Baby Snarky has called Huggy out. He is sure that her not giving into his every whim is a sign that she does not love him. Interestingly, this is what many of the adult discussions in our home come down to, also. You don’t feel as strongly about finances, laundry, our children, my restuarant choices as I do. Therefore you don’t love me.
Now, here is where the child fight and the adult fight part ways. Huggy now immediately gives in. Not only does she give Baby Snarky what he wants, but she will reward him with twice as much as he asked for. This is because Baby Snarky is spoiled. Yes, we are all aware. The Pastor on the other hand, gives in and gives me twice as much as I asked for because I’m RIGHT and I have made some valid points. He probably also explains to me that he DOES love me even though, and sometimes even BECAUSE we have different feelings about all of these things.
Now everything is peaceful again. My children have learned about interpersonal communications and I haven’t had to teach them anything because no blows were exchanged. They have, however, taught me.
PS The Pastor wants me to mention that the worst AND most ridiculous fight we have ever been in involved me yelling the F-word at him IN PUBLIC! You can only imagine what he did to deserve that!