Sunday, November 11, 2007

Too Much Of A Good Thing?

"Mommy, I brushed my teef two times this morning. 'Cuz I don't know if I brushed my teef yesterday." -Libby (who discovered the new toothpaste this morning).

"Mommy, I fink you growed a helpful baby when I came out" -Maggie (making sure I was noticing her exaggerated attempts to help me).

"She's not right" -Jack (applied equally to either sister).

Awwww. Isn't that so precious?

They are precious, the very lights of my being.

But they are driving me bonkers.

Before I go any further, I know there are a lot of parents out there who'd trade their problems for ours. We have no right to complain.

But da-yum. Enough already! They have come to the point where they completely disregard anything I say, especially (mostly) when they're playing with each other.

The root cause of our problem is that these kids like each other entirely too much. Make no mistake we're hear our share of fighting, but generally speaking we can't hear ourselves think over the sound of FUN. They each think they are the funniest critters alive and live to make each other laugh.

And as if obnoxious laughter weren't enough, we have over-the-top sound effects. Every activity, every game, every WWE family room smack down includes loud, unrelenting aaaahhhhssss, boooooommmmss and uuuuuggggghhhhs. Sometimes I want to jam pencils in my ears so that I may be alone with my thoughts for just a second.

Personal space has absolutely no meaning to any of them. They are in each other's shit ALL THE TIME. Wrestling, touching, poking. ALL THE TIME! They even watch TV as a bizarre set of Siamese triplets. More often than not, they are crammed into the recliner in a jumble of elbows and skinny legs.

So, where am I going with this?

Okay, my problem with the kids isn't really that they are too close or like each other too much. Rather, my issue is that when they're playing with each other they become completely deaf. And stupid. Together. At the same time.

They do not listen to me. Not to my quiet, firm indoor voice. Or to my shrill this-may-be-the-last-face-you-see voice.

They are united in their defiance. They are having too much fun to care.

As time passes, the pack mentality seems to grow and it's clearly us against them at this point. Most days it feels like they have the upper hand. A word to the wise, though. You never let on that you're feeling outnumbered. They smell fear. They sense hesitation. They pray on weakness.

It has come to my attention that part of the reason they don't listen at times is because I threaten too much. No, it's not that I don't follow through on my threats, because I do. I think it's because I have a very flexible definition of compliance, and will accept that the kids have stopped doing X, but fail to recognize that they're still doing Y which is still in opposition to what I originally asked. Got it?

For example. Watching TV. All three piled into one chair, jostling, needling each other. I separate them and threaten to send them to their rooms if they touch each other again. So, they throw pillows across the room at each other.

See? Different behaviour (or is it misbehaviour?). New threat? Or do they go their rooms? You tell me.

Again, I'm not complaining. I know I'm lucky that my kids dig each other. I'm lucky to have three healthy, active kids. I count my blessings daily.

And lest you start to think I'm raising a pack of wild animals, they are not. They behave impeccably at other people's houses and at school. In fact, I am often complimented on my children's manners and consideration for others. They give me more reason to be proud than anything else. It's just at home, when they're in the heat of a good time that they disregard everything I've tried so hard to beat into the crevices of their squishy gray matter.

We have successfully implemented a reward system in the past (you can get them to do just about anything for something shiny). It worked for a time, but I lost focus. And they started saving too much birthday money and my piddly quarters lost their impact.

This time I'm making a chart. A big one. With chores. Lots of chores. Ways to earn rewards will be clearly defined. Behaviours that force me to withdraw rewards will also be crystal clear. They will live and die by the chart. I may even have it laminated...give that chart a sense of permanence. They will each have a reward jar (someone mentioned a Star I'm copying the idea). We'll decorate some wooden stars from Joann's...paint, glitter, glue and stickers. We'll go nuts.

Their progress will be recognized and charted (and reported here, of course).

Crap. That sounds like a lot of work.

Maybe I should just start threatening to jam pencils in my ears.


Smoozee said...

Well, once you find the secret to control, please do let me have it, as my two Monkeys really do keep me on my toes as well. Excellent Blog. Love your writing skills.

Love from you SA Cousine

Martine said...

Thanks, Erika!
Nice to know I'm not alone!
Much love,