Tuesday, September 10, 2013

It's Time to Sell the Children

On Sunday one of our church leaders counseled us to do all we can to minimize contention in our homes. Not one to delay acting on inspired counsel, I thought about auctioning off my youngest two children to the highest bidder Monday morning. You know, because auctions on the Sabbath day would be totally inappropriate.

That night as the fighting between Halle and Lyla escalated to hitting and biting, I reached into my mental grab bag of disciplinary strategies. Ah, yes. The front porch- perfect for a time when I needed a break from the noise to think more clearly. 

Picking my six-year-old up with one arm and opening the front door with the other, I explained with as little emotion as possible that hitting is NOT allowed in our house, so she'll have to wait outside.

"You can try again in five minutes," I told her. 

As I locked the door, Halle defiantly crossed her arms and screamed. Both she and I knew how this would end.

And sure enough, five minutes later I found her sitting quietly on the doorstep, ready for a good conversation and an even better hug.

Great. Situation successfully reset.

Ready to enjoy a peaceful evening, I tucked both little girls into bed and sat down in the hallway just outside their door.

Arggghhhh! Not ten minutes later those two were at it again!

"It's my book!"
"That's my space!"
"Stop singing!"
"Mom! Lyla's out of bed!"
"I don't like you!"

My mind honed in on the irony of the soft primary music coming from their CD player. A lot of good that was doing!

I recommitted to selling both of them just after breakfast the next morning.

Beau and Sophia, the oldest two, hardly ever fight. In fact, they are black belts at communication- watching them have a rare disagreement is even amusing. Beau will quietly, but firmly, state his concern with a classic "When you...I feel..." statement. Then Sophia will take a long, slow breath before restating his concern. Though perhaps a bit dramatic, it's impressive. I don't think I learned those skills until I was well into adulthood. To see these short people with squeaky voices managing their tones and saying things like, "So if I understand what you are saying..." is almost comical. 

My middle child, Tyjah, is getting there, too. He's still pretty good at pressing buttons and minding everyone else's business, but we've seen lots of progress even in the last few months.


Recognizing the progress of my other children softened my resolve. Maybe I wouldn't auction off the two little girls. Maybe what we're already doing to minimize contention is sufficient. Maybe I need to recognize the process and not just look for success in the ideal.

Doing all we can do to minimize contention doesn't mean our childrens' bickering won't occasionally drown out the peaceful music coming from their CD player at bedtime. Okay, right now it's more than occasionally. But it's a learning process. Teaching our children to be better communicators, encouraging them to be peacemakers, and loving individuals all takes time and patience. And their little minds need to develop, too. Piaget wasn't making all that stuff up.

Before long I realized the two little girls were quiet- not asleep yet, but peacefully reading books, humming along here and there to the music. I noticed Halle reaching over to gently stroke Lyla's head. "Go to sleep. Close your eyes, " she softly crooned. A moment to melt this mother's heart. 

I'll be keeping these two.

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