And then came elementary school.
Now I seem to always be wondering.... are the things that I'm saying to my kids actually PENETRATING those thick skulls? When I tell them... "be nice no matter what... even if the other person is ugly to you" or "she's your sister... she will be your best friend in life.... PLEASE treat each other nicely" or "always say please and thank you, yes ma'am and no ma'am" or "be respectful in the way you speak"..... you know.... the things we ALL tell our children while silently and simultaneously praying that at some point these lessons will get through to them.
And then I hear it..... the fussing.... the fighting..... the cruel words.... and I wonder... is this normal??? Am I overreacting? Were my sister and I this bad when we were growing up? Is it just that mature adults don't ever act this way and I'm just not accustomed to it? Are they going to stay this way forever? Am I doing something wrong here???
I hate that feeling..... trying so hard.... wanting and expecting things to be one way and the outcome is completely different. We all have so many hopes and dreams for our children. And one of my biggest hopes and dreams for my own kids is that one day they will grow up and remember their childhood as some of the best days of their lives. I just want them to be happy.
So that's why the fighting between them bothers me so much.... how in the world can they be really, truly happy if they are arguing all the time?
A couple of days ago before school they were at their worst and I had had it. I told them both, "You are now on restriction. There will be no TV, no computer and no friends after school today. You will each come in after school and before you even start on your homework, you will write me an essay on things you can do to make this family run a little better."
They looked at me like I was insane.
I didn't care.
So after school, I had the notebooks and pens ready for them. I think they were shocked that I was serious and that I remembered their "assignment." Madison, true to form, writes one sentence, VERY LARGE to fill up the entire sheet of paper -- "I should be nicer to my sister."
I wasn't all that happy with her effort.
Macy, also true to form, tackled her assignment thoughtfully and with much more insight than I had even hoped. This is what she wrote:
1. Maybe we should start talking nicer.And she even put a punishment for not minding the rule beside each one.
2. Don't hit, kick, slap or anything!
3. Work together as a team.
4. Try to share your things without yelling or saying anything bad.
5. Mind what mom and dad say when they say it.
6. DON'T push or say shutup or idiot or dumb. Also don't say moron or stupid.
7. NUMBER 1 RULE - Treat others the way you want to be treated.
I was so happy.
She DOES get it.
And the funny thing is.... IT WORKED!! The house was so much more peaceful that afternoon. We all enjoyed being together and they actually got along!
So I guess we've got ourselves some new family rules..... THE RULES ACCORDING TO MACY..... I'm kind of liking that. And life is again really good.