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.