Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

6-22-13 RMB Getting Along

6-22-13 RMB Getting Along
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
My three boys are having a sleepover. We watched the movie Joshua together. I try to find something with a lesson to watch with them, like the Waltons or a movie with a message. This movie was about a man that walks the walk of Jesus. It is a bit over the top, but the acting is good; the storyline interesting. The boys watch it, paying as much attention as they do to any show.
Afterwards, I briefly touch on why I wanted them to watch it, especially in regard to kindness and the act of it. At ten-ish my sister and I turn in for the night, leaving them to monopolize the living room as only one preteen and two under ten can do. Pillows and blankets are on the floor, the couch and recliner. The dog joins them. Toys come out. Snacks are opened. And they put a DVD of an action-drama television series in the DVD player.
They can watch what they want, eat what they want, play what they want and stay up as late as they want. I sit on the couch in my bedroom with the door open, typing Rita Mae Brown letters…and listen.
I hear arguing, the beginnings of fight. Recently I put my foot down with them…no more disrespect to moms or each other, time to start taking care of their things, their rooms, their house and their relationships. A week ago while on the phone one mom told me the boys were not picking up as they were told to do. That’s an understatement. These three boys have learned to push both mom’s buttons, play them like a fine symphony, with all the sections, every instrument mastered.
I went to the house and had a brief pow wow with their mom. With her consent, I lined up three boys, all more than willing to pick up their rooms and the house, now that I had arrived. I informed them that they were too late. If they did not want to pick up their toys, I would relieve them of the need to do so.
The moms and I went through the house and filled twelve large garbage bags with toys, books and assorted treasures. After the stun wore off the boys helped. It always surprises me how they will participate, sometimes willingly, sometimes gladly, in their own punishment. They were a big help.
The bags now sit in my garage, waiting to be returned to boys that have learned to be more respectful and keep what is left in the house neat and orderly. This isn’t the first time they have had to earn back their things, but I hope it is the last. It helps that with every request for another toy or object, they are reminded about the bags that haven’t been earned back yet.
So after only minor sleepover squabbles, their freedom vanished; lights out, TV off, no more playing. I face three boys who all say they understand why and comply. Twenty minutes later I hear whispering, quiet playing in friendly tones. I walk out to find them thinking they are busted for playing. Instead I praise them for getting along. I can’t stress enough that his is all I want, to know that these three will go out in the world and get along with those whose path they cross.
The lights and TV go on, the game resumes. Twenty minutes later I hear arguing begin again…only this time the eldest says “Hey, stop arguing. We’ll get in trouble.” Amazingly they settle. Progress???
Good night,

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