It was not too long ago that I was bemoaning the constant bickering and fighting going on between siblings in our house.
I mean, it was exhausting having to break up all those arguments, and demoralising too.
Why can't they like each other? Why can't they just get along?
Through rose-tinted specs I would look back at old photos of them in younger days and wonder where they lost their liking for each other. Could we have prevented this loss of loving.... and more importantly, can we ever get it back?
I don't want to speak too soon.
(In fact I am almost convinced that as soon as I hit *Publish* an argument will erupt just to make a liar of me even though I am in fact writing this late at night and the kids are all sleepy-byebyes.)
But I'm gonna say it anyway...
My kids are getting along.
It's a miracle.
Not without its moments of course, nobody's perfect. But the general atmosphere, the pervading feel in our house has turned from niggly and snipey to kind and helpful.
Now wait a minute.
There's a clue.
On my fridge I have a sticker chart, the goal of which is currently (and has been for some weeks):
BEING KIND AND HELPFUL TO EACH OTHER.Hmmmm.
Is this actually working?
Writing down a goal in black and white. Tangibly rewarding and verbally praising every kind and helpful action. Could this be truly bringing a shift in attitude between siblings?
Let's examine the facts.
Before the Goal was written up: Kids fighting every day. Big brother extremely self centred and thoughtless. Middle sister annoying and sensitive to being the only girl. Little brother annoying and whingeing to get what he wants.
Atmosphere between siblings: Cold and frosty
Outlook for enjoying the holidays together: Extremely bleak.
Four Weeks Later: First there was The Gobsmacking Incident last week.
Then there was Generosity Extremo. Big brother listens to little brother's cry for Match Attax (trading cards). He doesn't tell him to go away and leave his stuff alone. Instead he goes and gets TWENTY-FIVE of his precious cards and puts them in his one and only TIN and GIVES THEM to his brother. (Reaction = stunned, heart-warmed, gobsmacked again).
In case we think this is a one-off, we present our next Exhibit: The Ninjago Spinner. Big brother overheard little brother admiring a friend's Ninjago on a playdate. He comes home, digs into his Lego collection and presents his brother with a Ninjago of his own to keep. (Heart = brimming over)
Witness the way big brother played scooters with little brother this morning, admiring his "bar spins" on his Lightning McQueen 3-wheeler and not scorning or running down his excitement. Witness the way Big brother played Wii, soccer, basketball with him for hours so I could do my jobs. How he let him hang out with the neighbour scooter boys at the front gate, letting him feel like he was wanted and part of things.
Witness the way Big brother heard his sister say she was thirsty in McD's yesterday, but was too shy to go and ask for an ice-water... Without a word he got up and went to the counter, returning with a cup of water for his sister. (Did you just see that? I nudged hubby. Oh yeah, we did).
Witness the often spontaneous hugs between them, the affirming words and the the absence of the once-endemic meanness.
Just the sound of the now common refrain, "Hey Ab, guess what?" "Hey Josh, guess what?" "Hey guys, guess what?"... where they share with each other the things that tickle them.
So many examples I could list.
Just writing this all out is giving me a sweet case of the goosebumps. Tears are pricking my eyelids.
They are acting like people who actually like each other.
The way brothers and sisters are meant to: as if they are on the same team instead of being each other's worst nightmare.
I love listening to them play Wii or Buzz together, encouraging each others efforts, giving the little one a chance at winning.
I love how when they have friends over somehow it turns into a big group hangout. His friends and her friends and Scrag somewhere in the middle of it all. They're making room for everyone to play, looking out for each other.
Thinking about this some more, I realise that the biggest change has been in the eldest. He is stepping up and taking the lead and it is filtering through to everyone else.
There is a general rush to help out now. Miss Fab helping me plow through a huge pile of dishes, helping cook dinner, making pancakes for everyone. Scrag rushing to wash his hands and knead pizza dough or set the table. Helpfulness and kindness are top of the agenda. Makes for a much nicer place to live, I can tell you.
My kids are pretty darn awesome.
And so is that sticker chart (and all that playing we're doing so much more of).
I can't help it, I am just really enjoying my kids these holidays.
TODAY'S PHOTOS were taken at Henderson Skate Park where Dash and his best bud rode their (customised) MGP's and remembered they were there to have fun not to be try-hards and just look cool and talk hard. We followed this up with Ten Pin Bowling. If you look closely at the score you will see that I got my butt completely whipped. That's me there at the bottom with *gulp* 26 points and endless gutter balls. I tried to put it down to my sore thumb and a lack of guard rails, but even after I started using the kiddy launch ramp, my score didn't improve. I am much better at Wii Bowling than the Real Thing.
PARENTING LESSONS I'M LEARNING THIS YEAR
- Play (what I learnt at The Incredible Years Parenting course)
- What a Difference a Play makes
- Stuff I'm Learning that's Changing Everything
- I Don't Want to Miss a Thing
- Grateful and Gobsmacked
- Stuff You Learn at a Skate Park
- Sticker Chart system (that actually works)