What a morning.
I am being the referee between my seven year old daughter and my five year old son. I never realized that the communication barrier between sexes start at such an early age!
I gave my kids the simple job of cleaning their room. I even broke it down in stages so they could focus better on what needed to be done. They had already put their clothes away with no problem, and the toys were relatively put away, though there was the issue of the new toys needing a home. Christmas gifts has a way of presenting that problem.
The dam broke when it came to the kids making their beds.
My kids have bunk beds, and my daughter has the top bunk while my son sleeps on the bottom. They both have plenty of stuffed animals, pillow pets, and blankets to deal with. (I think its time to go through them and make it a whole lot simpler… but that’s for later) I kept going in their room to find nothing had been done. All of my daughter’s pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals were strewed across the floor of the room. My son stood stumped on what to do next while his bed was made like a five year old would make it. It was okay. At least his pillows, stuffed animals and blankets were on the bed in a fair way. All the while, I see my daughter crying hard and saying, “I’m so stressed out! I can’t do it!”
Okay… Her sheets and comforter looked great on her bed, and I made sure I told her so. “Hun, your bed is relatively made! All you need to do is get the pillows, stuffed animals, and blankets folded nicely on your bed.”
“I need help! Paulie won’t help me!!”
Knowing my daughter, I knew the problem lay in how she talked to her younger brother. “How did you ask him? Did you ask him while you were crying?”
In the middle of a sob, “NO!” I knew better. She could see I wasn’t buying it. ” I asked him to help me make my bed!”
I tried not to laugh. A five year old boy isn’t going to jump on that. “That’s not how you ask for help. You need to break it down simply in exactly what would help you. You can ask him by saying, ‘Could you please give me my white bear?'”
“But he throws it at me!”
“Ask him not to throw it at you. Tell him to bring it up the stairs for you.”
“He won’t listen to me!” she wails.
Right then and there, I knew she was just making excuses for not wanting to try talking to him differently. I’ve seen them work well together when she isn’t so demanding, so I stopped her. “You are just making excuses here. You need to calm down and try again.”
“I have been trying!”
Listening to her reminded myself of some of the fights I had with my husband in the past. When I didn’t hear what I wanted to hear, I would whine. God, you’ve put a mirror in my face, didn’t you?
I took a deep breath and tried again to convince my emotional little female to approach her male brother in a different way of communication. “Take a deep breath and calm down. You’re not going to get anything done while crying. He’s not going to want to listen to you when you’re like that.” She stared at me defiantly. Oh, Lord… She’s got my stubborn streak. I tell her that I won’t listen to her whine anymore. “You need to figure out a way to get your job done. If you need help, calmly ask specific things from Paulie. He’s a boy, and he needs that kind of direction. He’s also only five years old and is still learning how to be a team player. Show him how he can help you.”
I sternly look at my five year old son, who tries his hardest to look all so innocent. “You better start listening ot your sister. If she asks you nicely, would you do it?” He nods his head eagerly.
I take a deep sigh. Being a mother to two of the opposite sex kids has its ups and downs. This was definitely one of the down times. Though, I have to say if I had two of the same sex, the problems would be entirely different. It would be territorial issues – not communication. Well… Maybe a little bit, especially when it comes to females.
I’m sitting here, and the room is getting cleaned… Slowly. Every two minutes, I have one of them coming to me with something to say, a boo-boo to complain about, or that they’re getting hungry. I tell them I’ve got lunch warming up on the stove, the boo-boo is fine, and they need to finish cleaning their room. When it comes right down to it, they’re kids and chores are so “painful” for them. One thing my daughter said today made me want to laugh – “I want to have fun first!” Don’t we all, but the truth is, we can’t have true fun until we know our responsiblilities are taken care of. At least, that’s true for me!
It’s time for this mama to get another cup of coffee and put on some music. I’ve got my own chores to deal with!