As I was cleaning up from dinner I heard the mother’s dreaded sound: Primal Scream. I could tell that this was a primal scream of the “My Brother Just Messed With Me” variety, not one of actual physical injury, so I walked, not ran, up the stairs to investigate. About half-way up the stairs I heard the second scream, so by the time I got to the top they were both standing there to greet me with open foamy mouths and red faces.
I got it sorted out pretty quickly and understood that Boy One threw a block at Boy Two and Boy Two retaliated in kind. There didn’t appear to be real injuries to anything more serious than pride so I started to try to talk it through with both. That lasted about six second before they both started screaming again. Boy One and Boy Two are notorious for not allowing the other to finish sentences without their vigorous input, so instead of making myself crazy trying to intervene, I sent them each to their seperate bunks and turned off the lights telling them I’d return when it was quiet enough to help work it out.
I almost turned and walked back to the kitchen when I started to hear them talk. Thank God I stayed because what followed was about 90 seconds of parenting gold. Here are a few snippets:
Boy Two: (In a scream-whisper, presumably so mom didn’t hear.) Thanks a lot.
Boy One: (through uncontrollable sobs) Well, you were yelling too.
This went on for a while, each accusing the other of getting them in this mess. Then, this happened:
Boy One: I wanna throw that whole box of blocks right at your head.
Boy Two (Older. Wiser? In a voice as cool as a cucumber.) Oh yeah? Well, I wanna shake this lamp so hard that it will fall and I will make you stand on an X underneath it so when it falls it smashes right on your head.
Boy One: (Crying harder, maybe even frightened at this point) You wouldn’t really do that!
Boy Two: (Finally, a little flustered. ) Well, you wouldn’t even do what you said about the blocks and the head.
Boy One:(In the smallest, strained, weepy voice) Now I want to punch you.
Then boy two got really dramatic with the desrciptions of his wrath including my personal favorite, “Well, I would make you do flips in mid-air, without teaching you first how to flip, then you’d fall right onto the bricks and, and, and.. I’d push the basketball hoop over on you.”
Boy One responded with a wail and “why would you even do that?”
I wish I could say it ended there, but it didn’t. They got quieter, both of them exhausted by the effort, but they continued to hurl somewhat lame threats at each other.
I seized the moment when I felt their wills fading and stepped in before the carnage got worse.
I asked one question: “Do saying these mean things to your brother make you feel good?”
The younger replied No instantly. The older one replied yes. (Uh, oh.)
Now was the time for a chat about kindness and anger and appropriate ways to treat your brother. Lots of Golden Rule references ensued. It was a reasonable chat this time. It all ended with them playing very nicely together and ultimately admitting no one was getting thrown out any windows.
At least for tonight.
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