After the millionth morning of bickering, yelling, whining and general sadness between my kids, I brought out the Love & Logic big guns. Well, first I yelled at them to SHUT UP (not a recommended Love & Logic strategy) then we had a quick meeting of the minds - What does it mean when I'm on the phone? What do you think happens when you interrupt me and otherwise cause misery while I'm on the phone? - before The Brilliant Plan shimmered to life in my brain.
Love & Logic says I don't have to come up with a consequence for behavior on the spot. This is contrary to what most parents have been taught - we're generally expected to have the perfect disciplinary action ready for whatever misbehavior emerges at any given moment. That's hard. Love & Logic doesn't want parents or teachers to have a hard job (I love them). They give us permission to say "What you've done is not okay. I'm going to have to do something about this. I'll think about what should happen. I'll get back to you. Try not to worry about it." And of course kids do worry that I'm going to think all day and come up with the most diabolical plan ever, so they go into Perfect Kid mode. If we're angels, she'll forget about punishing us! Or she'll let us off the hook because we've been so good. So masterful.
I told my kids that anything solitary was not allowed today; whatever activity they chose should involve the other person somehow, so they could show me they know how to be loving and kind. Or at least be near each other without making my ears bleed and brain hemorrhage. As I finished some work downstairs, they practiced magic tricks then started setting up the Zathura board game. I went up to shower and after five minutes, Paige came in and announced, "Mason & I are done with brother/sister time since we played a game. Can I play on the computer now?"
Deep breath. "Well," I am calm, loving, and logical, "I'm glad you played a game together. Find more things to do with each other." Small sigh from beyond the shower curtain. Two minutes later: "Can Mason & I watch a movie TOGETHER?" Clever children. "Not just yet," says Delayed Consequences Mom, "we'll see how well you guys can do other things together today." Conspiratorial whispers; I feel a wave of shared dejection roll through the bathroom. At least they were miserable as a team. I considered that progress.
Later there was a fart-sound competition, horsey rides, joint hamster cage cleaning, and surely plenty of covert discussion about the crabbiest, weirdest mom ever. I heard there was a degeneration of the love while shopping at Costco with dad, but it's the first day we've specifically required them to be so together and pleasant. They played later amongst friends without incident. We're now deciding if we let them have a movie night, or try to draw out more camaraderie by putting it off until tomorrow. Bribery & blackmail, thy name is Love & Logic.