17 November 2010
When people learn that I have four boys, they usually give me a look that says something along the lines of, 'I feel sorry for you,' or 'oh boy, I wouldn't want to be in your house, I bet it's noisy all the time.' (Don't even get me started on the comments like, "oh, never got the girl, huh?" I can write about that one later.
I get it, I've been in plenty of situations with all boys and the chaos can be intolerable. However, my boys are usually calm, relatively quiet and sweet. Of course we have moments (or days) when I look at them or listen to them and think that this is what people think my house is like every day and thank G-d it isn't!
They are still boys, though, and like all children, they like to play and run around, so sometimes I have to resort to extreme measures to get them to focus on what I want to tell them. When I am trying to get them to listen to something and can tell that it is highly likely that they are not focused on what I am saying, I'll say, in a serious voice, "line up."
All four boys will line up in front of me, arms at their sides. When all eight eyes are on my face, I proceed to to convey my message. Peace is restored. Everyone is happy... REALLY!
Lately, though, these instances are more frequent than ever. Perhaps it is because they are getting older and have their own agendas.
Whatever the reason, I realize it is time to bring them back into line. I'm not sure how we got to this point, but the straw that broke the camel's back came a few nights ago.
The three older boys share a room and sleep in bunk beds. When I went into their room to kiss them good night, I was bombarded with requests for me to switch their beds. First, Dwight and Bob said they wanted to switch beds, (Bob to the top, Dwight to the bottom.) Then Zack said he wanted to sleep in the other top bunk, across from his, where Dwight is now.
They've asked this before. I used to let them switch frequently, when we lived in China. But here, their beds have shelves and the boys have stashed books, legos, piggy banks, and much, much, more, in the shelves. So, the job is significantly more involved.
I've told them that if they want to switch beds, they have to move all of their stuff. I'll change the sheets, but they are responsible for the transfer of their "stuff". They said they'll do this but wanted me to change the sheets in the morning. They are impatient to get started with the new arrangement.
When I explained to them that I was not going to do it the next day but that I'd do it when I could fit it into my schedule, they began to whine and complain and ask when I last changed the sheets, when I would do it again and why couldn't it be sooner.
It had been a particularly long day and I had had enough. So, I said I would do it when they moved all their stuff and showed me they were willing to work for it like I work for them. They agreed.
Here we are, though, several days later, and everything is still in place. Not a word about the move since the night of the incident.
Sure, I'll let them trade beds. I'm happy to do it. But kids need to know that a family is a team and everyone has to do their share of the work (sort of).
It has been better since that night. They are back in line but still having fun, enjoying being kids. It's a fine line, making sure our kids do their share, but also making sure to let them have fun and be kids.
I'm walking the tightrope, for sure.