To say that these last few weeks of summer break ending and school starting have been all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows - would be a bold, fat faced lie. I'm not saying that the kids aren't doing well adjusting and having a wonderful start to the school year, they are. What a I am saying is that a bunch of the at home time has been cranky, loud, and annoying.
The bossing has been obnoxious. And loud. And tedious. I have no tolerance for it. And I have much less tolerance for the smarty pants back-talking. Ohhhhhh, that makes my blood boil. Sassy, back-talk drives me In.SANE!! My time-outs haven't worked fully. My quiet one-on-one talks haven't worked fully. My suggestions to take away this and that (and following through with said suggestions) haven't worked fully, either. So, I decided to take a page out of my Mom and Dad's discipline book. I put my kids to work, together.
Sunday morning, after breakfast, I gave each kid a bowl of soapy warm water, a wash rag and a toothbrush. I then showed my kids how to scrub the baseboards. After the brief tutorial, I sat them in opposite corners of the bathroom, closed the door and walked away. Ahhh, clean baseboards, there is nothing more gorgeous on a Sunday morning.
They talked and worked, all the while doing 'hard labor' cleaning the dirty baseboards. There was no bickering, and possibly a giggle or two. The lesson being learned - good attitudes, respect, and proper manners will keep you from having to do an awful household chore. A big lesson learned, indeed. But what they didn't realize was that there was another, hidden lesson, being ingrained into their hearts. Beyond doing Mom's cleaning, my kids were learning the lesson of sibling oneness. Us against them.
It's an important lesson. Well, actually, it's more of a bonding exercise. During their mutual punishment they were forming a new tie to one another. A new thread in the sibling bond cord that grows stronger in times of anger at the parents and the after effects of sour behavior. My sister and I created many new bonding threads, ever strengthening for us a lifelong love and friendship for one another, during mutual punishment. And because I was at my wits end, feeling like a parent failure and trying to figure out how to tame the masses, I inadvertently intensified that sacred trust and cohesiveness between my two kids. A fusing of the souls. An 'I've got your back' mentality. A very important piece to the sibling relationship.
As for the bickering and bossy antics, this most recent consequence has held it all at bay, for the time being. With that said, I do permanently have two siblings with a tighter bond.
And sparkling clean bathroom baseboards.