(photograph © Kiwidutch)
The few weeks ago we had ‘one of those days”. Parents of multiple offspring will be all too familiar with what ‘one of those days” looks like in action.
Little Mr had helpfully bought home a head cold that involved a lot of sneezing and even more “didn’t get hand to cover mouth in time” moments, coupled with me
nagging calling him, after every sneezing fit to demand that he squirt some antibacterial hand gel on his hands.
Little Mr. has this year taken a deep aversion to washing his hands with soap and water, but is very willing to use the travel antibacterial gel that I bought to use for when we fly… so I decided to choose my battles and let the kid smear on the gel so that he can avoid the water.
Yes, he gets a total scrub down in an almost daily bath, and that water is fun and the real battle has been getting him to wash his hands after visiting the lavatory, before dealing with food, or after coughing or sneezing.
So… Little Mr, in spite of my best efforts has successfully shared his germs with Kiwi Daughter, Himself and me and I’m still hounding him to wash his hands as his sneezing fits continue …
He’s sick of my nagging, Himself, Kiwi Daughter and I are just sick. We are all ratty, the kids are having constant cross words with each other since they got up this morning and now, after school, are sniping over minuscule details of stupid nothiningnesses.
Himself is in the kitchen trying to cook, but being interrupted literally every minute by one kid of the other telling tales and seeking revenge/punishment on the other, things start to go wrong in the kitchen because the cook is already tired and is being distracted way too many times to any attempt at multi-tasking.
Himself’s responses to the kids start to get a little ragged around the edges, the volume rises and when the kids continue to fight, Himself starts yelling.
Little Mr’s response to this is not to sensibly and logically see that his usually calm father is not in the mood for any back chat, discussion or rebuttal, but to just raise his own voice and start shouting that ‘now both Himself and his sister are against him, it isn’t fair, they aren’t listening, he didn’t hit his sister first, it was his toy, she sat where he wanted to sit, she pinched him, he didn’t want rice for dinner, he only would eat pasta, doesn’t himself know that Lttle Mr hates carrots?, it was sisters turn to set the table, she shifted his book, she touched his glass of drink, he told her not to, she did it again...’
Himself isn’t coping with this well, this is clearly a time when Kiwidutch needs to slip in her Meanest Mama costume and come to the rescue.
Both children are summoned, they stand before me in the hallway, trying to covertly elbow and kick each other… I have come prepared with pens and paper and order them both into the bathroom (that’s a real bathroom for my North American readers, our toilet facility is a separate entity).
The floor is linoleum, it’s smooth, hard, cold. Both kids are ordered to park their behinds on the lino. They each receive writing materials each and a task. They may leave the bathroom once they have each completed a list of “Ten Things I Love about My Sister/Brother“.
(photograph © Kiwidutch)
The howls of rage, indignation, and mal humour show me that they think that coming up with World Peace is probably easier than they thought this list would be, but I shut the bathroom door on them and ignored the nasty noises they made to each other on the other side.
After some ten minutes of bikkering they realised I was serious and echos of “we are sorry, can we come out now?“came though the door.
“Finished your lists?” I said… no, they hadn’t started yet.
“Two finished lists please and you may come out“. The loud protests resumed and once they realised I wasn’t listening (OK, I was listening, I just wasn’t responding) , they turned on each other and bitched that there was nothing good they could think of to write about each other.
After a long forty minutes they finally realised that they had seen more of the lino floor than they really wanted to and started to work together. Kiwi Daughter at ten years of age realised that even if her list was ready, if Little Mr’s wasn’t then she was going nowhere. Little Mr hadn’t even started his list and rather rudely declines her help but after several minutes the penny drops and he starts to write down what she dictates to him.
I evesdrop in the hallway as she spells out the letters of the words he needs to write. After the first sentence or so Little Mr is loosing the inclination to write so she writes a bit for him, then they take a short-cut with the rest of the list and he write again ….it’s full of ‘I love you”, “I like you” repeats. No matter, mission accomplished…
The punishment has taken some fifty minutes (not actually what I intended) but the upside is that Himself has finished dinner quietly in the kitchen and had a chance for a fifteen minute power nap so is feeling a bit better.
The kids are released to the dinner table and the real result is seen a bit later on in the evening when after they go to bed, himself goes to check on them and finds Little Mr cuddled up to his sister in her bed. He transfers the sleeping Little Mr back to his own bed and comes out grinning to tell me.
The added bonus of this Meanest Mama episode is that when the fighting and drama has been getting out of hand on subsequent days, hints about pen, paper and lists has a certain sudden calming effect on my kids. Strange that.