I'm bringing this up because my kids have been skating on thin ice with me lately. Particularly with the squabbling. And the way Nathan whacks Sara. And the way she provokes him to hit her. And the mouthy stuff. And they were such cute babies...
I know a lot of this is normal sibling stuff. They are actually not as bad as my younger brother and I were. No one has suffered any blood loss, after all. Simon and his brother were also at each other's throats. But now, I'm the parent.
Other signs that my kids are on the slippery slope to Hell:
- Nathan was playing with Sara and one of his little friends in the back yard, and Sara would not help him climb into a tree. He screamed, "YOU BITCH!!" at her. Hooo, boy. I had to send him into the house. I let his friend stay and continue playing with Sara, though, hoping that it would rankle. Then Sara went and stood under his bedroom window and threw paper airplane at it, to taunt him.
- I had a house full of guests and did something clumsy - spilt something or dropped something. Nate said, "Can't you do anything right?!?" As Si said later, "Great. Now everyone will think that I talk to you that way!"
- The final straw was "A Prairie Home Companion", when Garrison Keillor was describing "Why Every Parent Should Buy the Children a Kitty Cat". This is what you will get from a child who is not given the opportunity to cuddle a sweet little kitty cat. The there was a voice-over of this obnoxious, rude, foul-mouthed teenager.
Oh. My. God. And Simon is allergic to cats. So there is nothing to be done except to bring the thunder.
So, the next day when they were fighting on the way to Target, I pulled the car over (remember the crunch of gravel that meant your mom had really pulled over and you were going to GET IT?) and gave them what for. I scalded them with my searing tongue (Actually, to a grown up, that might sound kind of fun...No! Minds out of the gutter and on the task at hand.) I was mean. And I told them that there was to be no time-out in their rooms. Rooms are too fun. The next time one of them needed to be isolated from the light of humanity, exile was to be in the Mormon Pantry.
A-hah! That did it! I could see the fear in their eyes. So I added that I would not be sweeping the spiders out beforehand.
Nate whispered hoarsely, "Of all the rooms in our house, Mom, the Mormon Pantry is my least favorite."
And you know what? It worked! I am reminded of my friend Mary who told her kids all the years they were growing up that she had a wooden spoon in her purse that she would use to beat them. She managed to keep that going for about a decade.
They have been little darlings. Of course, I was waiting to prove that I was serious. Finally, Nate got carried away and smacked Sara's bum. I marched him to the Mormon Pantry and made him sit in there for 7 minutes. He sat quietly (I was a little bummed that he didn't whimper), while I waited out in the rec room.