Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My Two Little Boys

My two little boys remind me of puppies so much of the time.
They get smelly when they play too much outside. They sniff out trouble way too easily. They will eat and eat and eat until their bellies are full then be ready to eat again a few minutes later.

They also wrestle each other constantly. Occasionally, I will hear a whimper and one or both of them will come running to me, claiming to have been wronged in the preceding battle.

I was in my bedroom folding laundry when I heard Micah's battle cry: "I'm going to KILLLLLLLLLL you!" followed by thundering footsteps down the hall, a thud that could only be a bigger brother tackling a littler brother, then ending with a thump that could have been any body part (but most likely a head) hitting the wall.

I opened the door, grabbed both boys by the arm, and sat them both down in facing chairs.

I know better than to ask, "What happened?" When I ask that question, both boys start shouting injustices and perceived innocence, and I can't decipher what really happened.

I turned to Micah.

"Micah, please go tell your friend that you can't play any more, then come back to my room."

Micah slunked out of my room and I heard him mutter, "Sorry. We can't play any more today." The front door quietly shut, and the three of us were alone.

"Now. I want to know what happened. Micah, you first."

One at a time, the boys told their side of the story. The gist of it was--Hyrum got too excited and hit Micah too hard with the WoMD (abbreviation for Weapon Of Mass Destruction), and Micah lost his temper. I was surprised that Hyrum was allowed to use the WoMD. Micah had made it at a birthday party the week before, and he was sharing it with Hyrum? There's a few good brother points right there.

Admittedly, I am not a perfect parent. While my kids know each of the corners in our house very well, I have been known to yell at my kids, thump them on the head at the dinner table, and sometimes spank them. This whole fighting/screaming death threats thing is happening too regularly around here, and I've been trying to find a solution that will help them learn to control their behavior.

"So, both of you did something wrong. Which one was worse--losing control with a foam sword on accident and hurting someone, or screaming and chasing and hurting someone?"

Micah hung his head and said, "Mine was worse."

I was surprised to hear him admit that so easily. Usually obvious truths like this are a little harder to see when you're the perpetrator.

"So, what should we do about it? You can't play the rest of the day." Empty consequence--it was 5:15 pm.

Hyrum looked at me with puppy dog eyes, tears waiting to fall. "We can't play with each other, either?"

Now that was a novel idea--forbid them from each other. Hmmmm.

"Yep. That's your punishment. You may not look at each other, talk to each other, be in the same room as each other, or sleep in the same room tonight. No exceptions. I will be gone for the night, but Dad will be here to make sure you have no contact with each other until tomorrow."

And with that, I grabbed my purse, my keys, and my phone, and I left.

Before I had been gone 20 minutes, my phone rang. It was Micah.

"We've learned our lesson. Can I please play with Hyrum?"

"Nope. Talk to Dad. Bye."

Ten minutes later, my caller ID told me home was calling again. This time it was Hyrum.

"Mom, please! We've learned our lesson! Micah and I really want to play together! Can we?"

My answer was the same.

"Nope. Talk to Dad. Bye."

Twice more my phone rang, but I ignored it both times. I knew what they were going to say, and I knew that my consequences were working.

When I got home just before 9 pm, both boys were still up. They came into the family room, and I quickly asked, "Are you two supposed to be in the same room?" They looked at each other and turned away. "Back to your separate beds. Right now."

Sunday morning, I heard their voices. They were talking. to. each. other.


I headed downstairs and asked them each what they had learned. Both gave about the same answer.

While I know that they will wrestle to the point of tears again (probably today, because they haven't since Saturday night), I hope that this lesson will be one that will stick with them.

"Life would be really boring without my brother."

In boy talk, I think that means that they realized how much they love each other and need each other and depend on each other. I already knew that. I wanted them to see it--and it worked.

Until the next battle to the pain . . . (name that movie)