Maybe its cabin fever or just winter in general, but everyone seems especially cranky in this house.. Its not exactly like we’ve been cooped up in the house for the last 3 months. We are out and about every day to go to school and such but the days are shorter and colder. Maybe we are all just missing those lazy days of summer?
Whatever it is, I’ve noticed the kids have argued with each other more than usual. I know this is common with siblings, especially when they are close in age. I understand that they are all individuals with different personalities. I try to encourage them to work out their disputes before I intervene and I want them to try to solve their own problems by compromising. This also sounds so ideal doesn’t it? The thing is, this is rarely how it happens. Very rarely.
I can’t recall what the exact circumstance was last week, but it just got to that point where I not only had to intervene, but I had to give what felt like a speech. I’m sure it had something to do with a particular toy or someone going into someone else’s bedroom or maybe something else but I didn’t want to listen to the arguing anymore and I had to remind them that they love each other. Yes, that’s right, remind them. It’s not one of my favorite parenting moments by any means and when they can’t get along with one another it makes me feel like I am doing something wrong as a parent. It’s not that they never get along with each other, it’s just that I would like them to ALWAYS get along. In my mind I have images of fairy tale-like peacefulness. Unrealistic, I know.
So I give my little speech. They love each other, they should speak nicely to each other, help each other, be respectful of each other’s feeling. They usually try to reply back with “he started it, she started it, I didn’t do it, It’s not mine” etc. I answer back about sharing and compromise and then I see some looks of discontent and eye rolling.
It seems as though these conflicts mostly take place when they are together. I’ve heard compliments from other parents and teachers about how well-behaved they are and how kind they are to their friends and classmates. I’m sure any parent would agree that when your children do the right thing even when you aren’t watching, those are the best types of compliments. It makes me extremely proud and happy but it also confuses me at the same time.
A couple of days after the incident and speech, my kids and I were grocery shopping and it also happened to be Valentine’s Day. We had just finished checking out and bagging the groceries and I think I was zipping one of their coats when I noticed the woman who was standing in line behind us talking to the cashier. She was an older woman and she was shopping alone. She only had a few items and she was trying to figure out how she added incorrectly or lost track of what she had in her shopping cart but she was $1.30 over what she thought she was going to spend. The woman was deciding what item she was going to give back to the cashier in order to make the total less than $10.00. I took a dollar bill and some coins out of my pocket from the change from my transaction and handed it to the cashier on the woman’s behalf. The woman quickly said it wasn’t necessary and the cashier looked a little stunned but I insisted she take the money. The woman said thank you to me repeatedly and I knew she was sincere. She asked if she could pay me back but I said it wasn’t necessary and wished her a Happy Valentine’s Day. I left the store with my groceries and kids in tow and I was thrilled. I was glad I could help that woman but I’m not going to lie, I was even more happy that my kids witnessed the whole thing.
When we got back to the car they my 5-year-old asked questions like why did I do that and why didn’t she have to pay me back? Before I could answer him my 7 and 9 year olds told him because it was something nice to do for someone and maybe she lived alone or didn’t have any family. I just listened and smiled and thought maybe, just maybe, I am actually doing something right?
Cathy’s winning Facebook Status of the month:
That awkward moment when you’re in a store and you hear “mom!” and you say “what?” …and then realize your kids aren’t even with you.
Cathy Moryc Recine writes a monthly Parenting Column for Muse In The Valley. She lives in Manorville NY, with her husband and four children ages 9, 7, 5 and 3. She works as a mom, yet still finds time to enjoy the things that keep her unique.