blessed are the peacemakers…

I blame it on my childhood. When my parents would argue I would try to think of ways to fill the gap. I was small, though, only a child and children can’t fill gaps left by grown ups, especially when the grown ups do not want that gap filled. So I contented myself to mediating amongst my siblings. This was not a welcomed practice but I kept it up to my own detriment. I do blame my childhood for this habit but looking back it’s hard to figure out what made me think I had gained proficiency in it. The reality is that I never became much of a peacemaker. I would throw up my hands in despair when my efforts were both unfruitful AND unappreciated. The problems of the people I was mediating became my own problems and their emotions, my emotions.

Now, as a parent I find I am suffering from this same disease. I find myself trying to make peace between my children. I try logic, I try kindness, I try threats and then when those don’t work I throw up my hands in despair and bellow to no one in particular “what am I doing in this nut house?”

Once, a few weeks ago I was so overwrought that I actually just laid face down on the floor til they stopped arguing. Sadly, this only stopped the flow of bickering for about a minute and then they were back at it again. But, while lying on the floor I had a revelation. Am I attempting to be the peacemaker with these children or the peacekeeper?

Peacekeepers make me think of policemen and soldiers in foreign countries…enforcing laws that someone else has made, laws and rules made by peaceMAKERS. Their purpose is clear, the authority is granted, the rules are in order. The trouble I have, I mused during my humble siesta on the hardwood floor, is that I’ve been trying to be the peaceKEEPER in a land where the peaceMAKERS have made no laws. I have not laid out the guidelines; although I suppose I thought, “don’t hit the dog with a shovel” would be a no brainer…apparently not.

You see, the people I am dealing with here in “nuthouse central” do not know the simple laws of household civility. I had some expectation that they would come hard wired with this. It was not until I threw myself to the floor in a fit of despair that I realized my job was impossible without the groundwork laid. How can I enforce laws that do not exist?

If sister hits brother because she’s annoyed my response has been, “Why on EARTH would you hit him? ” She feels remorse for a moment, gives big weepy looks my way and then wails a loud “I’m sorry!” Well, what then? Apologies all around, forgiveness ensues, everyone’s happy. Except me, because 5 minutes later someone is hitting someone else.

It’s all about the follow through. I have no follow through. I have mommy brain. I have dogs eating cellphones and children removing their own dirty diapers during the time period that “follow through” is meant to happen. I consider making a chart for the wall…I saw this online. It is called the “IF…THEN….” chart and the idea is something like this; “If you hit someone…then….blah blah blah…(punishment here).” You do the crime you do the time. I imagine this wonderful scenario in which someone commits an off limits act and I calmly walk to the wall chart. “Oh, juvenile arson…that’s 2 weeks without the CD player.” It seems perfect. Just what I need to make this family really work together and bow to my iron fist. Unfortunately I can think of 35 reasons that this will not work however, and they all have to do with the Follow Through. Damn, the Follow Through, it’s never been my strongpoint.

Maybe I will just spend more time on the floor, face down. This seems to awaken my brain at the very least and produce happy, productive thoughts amidst the chaos. Maybe this, in turn will lead to more happy, productive thoughts and I can finally begin to work on that Follow Through. Maybe.

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19 thoughts on “blessed are the peacemakers…

  1. Yeek! If it’s any consolation, siblings do bicker, even if they love each other really – that’s the bit which is actually hotwired into them, I think maybe it’s something to do with establishing methods of influencing others boundaries and er stuff like that. I had ADHD or whatever you call it, it was called Hyperactivity when I was a kid so I was a really great child to have around the place (NOT).

    I guess the only thing you can do is to continue to do what you are doing. Reason with them as human beings (it goes in eventually, I promise) and explain to them why it’s bad – “how would you feel if X thumped you? that’s right so don’t thump him/her” which sounds pretty much like what you’re doing anyway.

    I’m telling you that because it seemed to work with me and my brother. I do hope it gets easier! In the meantime, as a non parent, I have no real experience – apart from my memories of being a kid – so there’s not much useful advice I can give. I am rooting for you if it helps, hang in there!

    Cheers

    BC

  2. Thanks BC! I have to say that validation and encouragement are about the very best gifts I could desire so I appreciate your post tremendously. You’re awesome!

  3. Oh and my DH had ADHD as a kid too. He said he used to kick the back of people’s seats so his class “voted” to move him to the rear of the class. Can you imagine? In his words, “when do a group of 8 years olds get together in an organized way to do ANYTHING of their own volition? And they chose to unite on THIS!”

  4. I soooo know the feeling.

    We’ve had some luck with token systems. The current one is a calendar on the fridge. Every day gets a color (green/yellow/red.) 5 green days in a row gets a reward. Serious infractions (hitting, defiant disobedience) get the immediate action of a non-green stripe on today (so a whole green day is quite an accomplishment.) Other methods of discipline are still there for backup, but that simple and very quick action of putting a stripe on the calendar seems to carry a lot of emotional punch. So far it’s been helpful.

    Rewards have been on the order of “a trip to the book store with Dad”, and he has managed to earn a few. Once he gets two or three green days in a row, he starts to get motivated.

  5. Hi Rachel!
    Can I just hire you to come to my house? I’d like to farm this task out somehow. lol I have to convey that the one who attempted to hit the dog with a shovel is really only 2 1/2 and the shovel was really small if that helps. That is one of the 35 reasons I don’t get my proverbial sheist together on this as well. The age range is killer…the youngest being 2 1/2 the oldest 10. I feel as though I need 4 different sort of charts.
    Oh, I need to lie down on the floor now….

  6. Ah, my dear “metaphore,” if only pencils were all it took to pass this test. This one will suck the life force out of you to almost zero at times, but eventually will fill you back up with incredible joy. As much as kidlins and spousal units can be annoying, they can make up for it all within seconds. ::::sigh:::: Wishing you and yours a fab Memorial Weekend Holiday! beefy ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I often hope that the little one comes hardwired with manners and consideration too. But alas, she has just made a cranky noise and stomped off to her room because I her unreasonable mother thought that 1 and 1/2 hours of TV was enough. Maybe I should lay down on the floor. And people wonder why I have only one child.

  8. How cruel, TM…90 minutes to rot one’s brain is NOT NEARLY enough! You could try the laying down on the floor technique…I find that EVERYTHING works the first time…after that they get wise to you. They’re like that ‘learning robot’ in The Incredibles. LOL

  9. Hi, again, mrsm! I came back here because I remembered one of only 2 episodes I ever watched of “Nanny 911.” It may not apply to you, but thought it might be somewhat helpful. This was over a year ago at this point, but nanny went to a house where the dad had left for the service, and the mom was out in the toolies all alone with 6 kids (yikes!) Dad left for a year in Iraq. First thing they did was declutter, but then nanny made her a chore chart breaking the kids into teams of 2, and they would rotate partners every week. It taught them team work, in addition to giving them time with a different sibling in a special way each week.

    Anyway, the point of it was to earn a certain number points each week. The kids would get the satisfaction of watching their team’s chart fill up with stickers for speaking respectfully to each other and to mom, picking up after themselves, eating dinner, pretty basic stuff. They also made it a point-earning activity every day at a certain time to clean up as quickly as they could racing against a timer set to 5 or 10 minutes. I can’t remember if the kids got any prize beyond the satisfaction of meeting their goal, either, sorry! All I know was that it was possible for everybody to win.

    The only other thing I remember is that “the screamer” (the one who assailed mommy by screaming at the top of her lungs at her and jumping up and down) got 20 minutes of time each day alone with mommy. Not easy, but as soon as mom dropped the ball on this activity, the screaming resumed.

    So, therein lies the biggest challenge, like you said, for ALL of us moms, regardless of the age of the kids. Some days it seems like nothing more than God’s cruel joke against mommies, but it is so true that we set the bar each day which the the troops must measure up to. Looking back now, it really does mean, whether we’ve got the energy or not, we have to take care of ourselves first, somehow, come hell or highwater, before we’ll be able to make ourselves do stuff like this for others on a regular basis. At the risk of insulting your intelligence, which I do not mean to do in the least, I hope you have found a way to carve out at least 15 minutes all to yourself each day, even if it means getting up 30 minutes early to do it. The pain is worth the gain.

    Big hugs to you, because I only had one, and it was a three-ring circus just trying to keep all the plates spinning with just her some days. I never had a clue about the chart thing I could have done, but some time just for me each day saved my sanity. Not always possible, but a worthwhile goal. I know you can find something that will work. I’m sending positive energy vibes your way. Hope at at least some of this is helpful. ๐Ÿ™‚

    P.S. I think the kids got to help make the chart (helped with their ownership of the whole project).

  10. Thanks Beefy!

    I always hear about The Nanny and Nanny 911 but I’ve never seen it…one day I will get ’round to it! LOL

    Those are fab suggestions which I will take to heart. The biggest piece that sticks with me is getting 15-30 minutes to myself. Since I tend to be someone who thrives on quiet it is JUST the kind of joke God would play by sending me very loud little people to live at my house.

    That being said, the need for “self care” is especially important in this time in my life and it’s usually the first thing to fly out the window. Your post was a good reminder to me today for that, so thank you!

    We have our “chart” in place now and it’s quite a shift for me (and for them I suppose) having it spelled out. They really do dig knowing what to expect and what is expected of them.

    Overall, feeling very optimistic today and have no desire to lay down on the floor at the moment. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks be to God.

  11. Amen, sistah! Those little people DO thrive on routine. Also, flylady.net might have a couple of good ideas you can use to help them develop even more routines. You’ll have miniature West Point cadets there before you know it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Wow, you have an actual chart? How incredibly organized! It’s so hard to get started on things like that, but they so often help ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hope it’s still working for you.

    I could NEVER do flylady, though. I signed up for her emails one time, and found them completely overwhelming. On the one hand, I already cleaned the sink every day. On the other hand, there were numerous reminders for things I’ll probably never do and didn’t feel I needed to until she told me to ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    Besides… I’ll never ever EVER where shoes in the house. That’s insane. Why should I be uncomfortable in my own house? I wear them as little as possible at work (first slipping them off under my desk, and then, once I’ve been there long enough to get recognized as a genious, so it’s okay to be eccentric, I walk around in stocking feet for most of the day.)

  13. Hey Rachel
    Well, the charts working out alright so far, so good. The chart looks pretty impressive I must admit…plus that I get to say things like, “Let’s go to the chart….” and that’s always fun.

    What is interesting about it is that I’ve found in the moment I have a choice to make now that I have the chart. Well, I guess I always had a choice to make but now I’m aware of the choice…either I can lose my cool and have a fit when a transgression occurs or I can go to the chart and it diffuses my temper.

    Sometimes, no…OFTEN, actually, I feel a little gyped that I didn’t get to explode with anger and then I remember that it’s not ABOUT me…it’s about addressing the transgression…and you know, not everything is a personal slight against me! LOL

    so, it’s been good so far.

    And Flylady…yeah, I dig the Flylady…but about the only thing I gleaned and continue to do is the sink shining, truth be told. I may look into it again now however…I like to look at it like Weight Watchers…once you learn the tools and get to where you need to be then you can go back to it for maintenance…at least that’s the theory. LOL.

  14. I think it’s great that you’ve find a way to deal with issues without all that anger. I’m sure you’ll get used to it and like it. If you need to jump up and down and stomp a little, you can always try dancing. ๐Ÿ˜€ It can also be an emotional outlet, but tends to inspire more pleasant emotions.

    I guess what I realized with flylady is that I was already satisfied with the quality of my housekeeping, and didn’t really want or need advice on it. Most of the messages were either telling me to do something I already did anyway, or telling me to do something I didn’t consider necessary.

  15. I’m right here with ya, MrsM. Consistency and follow through.

    Yeah, sometimes I think I’m only consistent IN my tendancy to be inconsistent…but we do the best we can.
    Mrs M

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