It usually starts with “she did it” or “he touched me first” or “How am I supposed to just know the key would break in half if I stuck it in a rock?” (True Story)
No parent likes to hear these phrases. I can guarantee you that when I hear the start of something like them my blood pressure rises, even though the calm woman’s voice in my head is saying, “just inhale, deeply, nice and slow”.
I am such a patient person, anyone who knows me will back that up. I often feel the other’s person’s pain, anguish, discomfort what-have-you, and lend a compassionate ear until the ranting is over. For some reason though when there are more than 2 children complaining at the same time, the pressure begins to boil. That women’s voice reassures me that I can handle anything in a calm and reasonable manner. I monitor my breathing and then become the problem solver, the peace maker, the care giver. Hugging those that need extra love, wiping away tears of those that were injured and of course grabbing the baggie of ice that has a permanent home on the freezer door for all bumps and bruises and bodily harm caused by sibling rivalry.
But there are some days when that women’s voice sort of sounds like Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest. Sidenote: The scariest movie my mom banned and Aliza’s mom made us watch so that we’d appreciate our own mothers more.
And I feel like crying. Most of the time I don’t. I just practice controlled breathing and send everyone off to their rooms. When they start screeching “It’s not FAIR!” I am in complete agreement. They take the words right out of my mouth.
Sure we all do stupid stuff as kids, like lock our fingers in the door, stare at a good looking boy instead of concentrate on the SAT’s, cut our bangs so we thought we’d look like Audrey Hepburn but ended up looking like Ceasar. But fighting with siblings takes the cake (dumb phrase). No one ever wins these battles, moms all over the world want to cry and someone ALWAYS ends up wounded. Moms do not want to play the referee, we much rather enjoy the role of the cheerleader.
One summer I cold-called for about 2 weeks before I quit. I did learn a valueable lesson though; there is a perfectly good response no matter what the other person says. That along with my communications degree, I have come up with some remarkably good responses: I will share an example here folks and consider this a freebee, after this I may charge you for tips and tools of the trade…(don’t steal that – I may us it as the title for my next book).
Here we go: The Objectives: Calm the child down. Change the subject. Distract with something shiny, or use bribery. Example:
Child: I hate her she is so mean!
Mom: We do not use the word hate.
Child: She won’t share her crayons.
Mom: Those are her crayons, where are your crayons?
Child: Her crayons are better.
Mom: I bought you the same crayons.
Child: (one pitch higher, mom- keep your cool) I said hers are better!!
Mom: I heard you the first time there is no need to shout.
Child: ( blood curdling screeching now) Maybe you didn’t hear me, I said she is mean and won’t share her crayons!!
Mom: What I hear is you speaking very disrespectfully. Sit here (the naughty step – thanks Super Nanny) and rethink how you could have spoken nicely to tell me the same thing.
Child: (from the naughty step) Aaarhhhh you are not listening!!!!
Mom: I heard everything you said, twice. Both times rudely. When you calm down we can work something out. (in your head count slowly: 1 one thousand, 2 one thousand…) The next words I hear better be an apology and after that we can have some ice cream.
Child: I’m not even hungry.
Mom: That’s fine and not an apology. You can watch me eat ice cream with the candy sprinkles I just bought. After that you can drive with me to the market and help me pick out something for dinner, maybe if you remember to act nicely you can pick something out for yourself in the hairband section.
Now obviously you are not supposed to bribe your children with sweets, especially if they are chubby or have rotting teeth. This is just a template that you can use to help guide you to a happier place and stop that child’s tantrum before you reach insanity.
Of course, you may already be long gone and officially considered by professionals technically insane. There is no way to be sure unless you get tested and let’s be honest. What mom, especially one that works full time outside the home has the time to set that up? Speaking from experience, if there was a free moment, as a young mother, I was swapping time with a friend and driving to the local QuickCheck to grab a Slurpee and a People magazine and sit in a quiet car while loading up on sugar and mindless drivel.
It was a great way to refire/rejuice for round 2 aka the afternoon. New moms, or mom’s with lots of children need a time out too. Get a friend and share time, drop of your children and take 30 minutes to yourself. Then swap. You each get a break and it helps with keeping a cool head.
However, when you move away to another country and you lose your Time-Share Buddy and are playing the part of short order cook like an octopus with 10 ears, Side Note: I imagine this is the way G-d probably MEANT to create us and like lizards, have the ability to grow another part if needed, madness ensues. Mom wants to scream louder than the children, and sometimes does. We manage (or we cry) because we can. We are built to handle the chaos but there is always room for your inner voice to scream, “It’s NOT FAIR!” And when she is not good enough and your bestie is not available and needs validation there is FB and Twitter and thousands of other moms that agree with you. Right? Right.