When my children were five and seven they had their first real ‘fight.’ I remember it quite clearly. It was the first time I had ever heard them be unkind towards each other (that doesn’t mean they hadn’t been…it’s just the first time they dared to in front of me).
People often ask me how I taught my children to get along so well. They don’t yell at each other. They don’t fight. They don’t put each other down. They care for each other. They are [usually] quite polite to each other. They do favors for each other. What did I do?
Maybe it’s because I use manners when conversing with them?
Maybe it is because I don’t fight?
Maybe it is because I don’t yell?
Let’s be honest – it was more likely luck of the draw.
I don’t know…but here is what I do know.
I stopped them, calmly, in the midst of their fight. I asked them to go sit on my bed. I sat with them in a triangle. I said to them…
Someday I will be gone. I know you don’t want to think about that – but it’s true. Someday I will be gone and the only thing you will have left of me are your own memories and each other. I expect you to take care of each other, because there will come a day that I won’t be around to take care of you. So you have that choice right now, don’t ruin your friendship – because one day all you will have left of me will be each other.
I know, sort of intense – but it worked.
Or…maybe it was just luck?
Nah…last night I was reminded of that day six years ago.
Tucker was having a particularly rough night. So bad that he couldn’t form sentences. He kept stopping mid thought to try to think of the next word and it just wouldn’t come to him. He finally grew angry – this is progress…the anger used to come immediately. He screamed at me – but I knew it was out of frustration. He was rushing to his room. I stopped him and hugged him tightly. This process was MUCH easier when he was smaller than me….oofta…
I whispered to him, “Be calm. It will come to you. We will wait for your words.” I hugged tighter. I said it again. I hugged tighter. I said it again.
His tears came, he released the anger, and came back to me…by hugging back and saying, “I love you, Mom. I just need to go to bed.”
Off he went…
As he went down the stairs I walked into the kitchen (where Estelle was), took a great big breath in, and looked towards the heavens as the tears began to form. These are the tough moments – staying calm and holding it from your other child. She interrupted my moment of ‘getting it together.’
“Mom, I need you to know that when you are gone I will take care of Tucker. I watch you. I know how to help him. When he needs me I’ll be there. I need you to know that. I learned it from you. No worries, I got this.”
That’s all for tonight…because if she is not a gift sent from heaven, I don’t know what is.