Sunday, March 17, 2013

Who's the Boss?

We have a rule in our house that you have to eat your fruits and vegetables first.  We have learned that once the macaroni and cheese is on the table, the strawberries are left to rot.  If the fruits and veggies and given first, they are suddenly eaten without much argument.  My oldest understands this well.  My youngest feels that this is cause for war.

We were playing in their playroom and we have a cookie jar filled with snacks upstairs.  My oldest pulled it down and wanted some Goldfish crackers.  They hadn't had much "good" food thus far so I told them he could have them after he ate some strawberries.  I ran downstairs to grab them and then I set them up on their little stool so that they could eat.  My youngest thrust the bag of Goldfish in my face.  "Open!  Open!  FISH!!" he said.  "Sure, baby.  Just eat your strawberries and then I'll open them," I replied.

The torrent of tears started and didn't stop no matter what I said.  He kept shoving the bag in my face and turned blue (not exaggerating) with anger and frustration.  I stayed calm and firm about the rule but I was starting to doubt myself.  Was it really that big of a deal?  Should I just give him the stupid crackers and end this nonsense?  No, I couldn't.  If I gave in this time, I wouldn't have a prayer the next time.  As I was mulling over my battle plan, my oldest jumped into the fray.

"Look, Drew, it's not that hard.  Eat the strawberries and get the Goldfish," he said with authority.  Drew fell silent and his eyes widened.  He tried another whimper and my oldest said, "Whining won't help.  Eat your strawberries."  And guess what.  Drew ate his strawberries.

I just stared at them both.  I was at a loss for words.  How in the world did that work?  I swear I said those exact words to him.  But, for some reason, he listened to his brother.  Luke commanded his respect, laid out the expectations, and brought an end to a seemingly endless tantrum.  Thank you, God, for small miracles.

These children are always surprising me with their understanding of the world.  My oldest knew exactly how to communicate with his brother to get a result even when I didn't.  They have a connection with each other. They are on the same level and, because of that, they respect each other.  My prayer is that their connection will only grow stronger with time and that they will always know what to say to each other when my husband and I are at a loss for words.

How do your kids help each other through rough patches?  If you only have one child, do you notice it when they are with their friends and family?  How do you encourage that behavior?

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