This afternoon, Marty and I were attempting to have a nice Sunday lunch of waffles together after church. We were deciding where to take the girls out on their scooters today to make the most of the sunshine before the weather turns again.
I say ATTEMPTING to have a nice Sunday lunch together, because the girls were grumpy and tired. First Kate had a meltdown because she couldn't wear her new black shoes when we go for a scooter ride, then Jaimee whined and whinged because she decided that Kate's new scooter is SO much cooler then her one. Never mind that Jaimee has a Barbie one and Kate's is plain black with pink trims...Kate has a scooter that is brand new and the handlebars go higher then Jaimee's one, so apparantly it trumps.
After sitting down, taking one bite of waffle and having to get straight back up again, still chewing, to sort out yet another argument, we had both had enough. The last straw came when the girls were both yelling at each other to get out of the way as they tried to swing/play in the same place at the same time. I threatened to cancel our trip out, and then Marty made them both come inside and sat them in separate corners of the lounge, still in tears (the girls, not Marty).
"What now?" I whispered to Marty over their cries. "I haven't thought that far ahead" he replied under his voice. He walked over to start a lecture, but I beckoned him back to me in the kitchen. "I reckon we should role play and show them how ugly they are when they act like that" I suggested. He sat down in the lounge, and I took a seat opposite him.
I explained to the girls that we were very disappointed with their ugly behaviour, that it makes us both feel sad and God too, to see them treating each other like that. I warned them that mummy and daddy were going to show them what they look like and sound like when they fight. Marty grabbed Kate's new toy and I snatched it off him.
Well, I think the neighbours may have been on the verge of ringing the police to hear us! We really went to town - after all, our girls have given us some great tips on how to argue. We were both yelling at each other to "GIVE IT BACK, IT's MINE...BUT I WANT WANT, ITS NOT FAIR" as we struggled with the toy. I fell to the ground in dramatic sobs "I NEVER get a turn, EVER. You are SO MEAN".
Meanwhile, the girls watched on from their corners in stunned silence. Their eyes got bigger and bigger as they listened to mummy and daddy fight (we don't raise our voices to each other normally, so this was all a bit new and scary). As we sat back down, we turned to the girls to gauge their reaction.
Jaimee had put her hands over her ears and burst into tears as we sat down. Kate quickly followed. I looked at Marty and said "Umm...I think they got the idea", and we each gathered an upset little girl into our laps. We asked them how they felt when they heard that (sad) and agreed that we felt really sad when we hear them fighting too. We were able to talk about how mummy and daddy were not listening to each other, we were both just yelling and being grumpy and thinking about what we wanted first. We encouraged them to think about each other, to listen and to try and TALK to each other and find a way that they could both be happy when they don't agree.
It was perhaps a bit of a dramatic way to teach them this lesson, but it was certainly impacting! I hope they don't forget it. As I type this, I can hear them attempting to sort out a situation over a book. I wonder how long it will take before the tears and yelling resume.....and whether we will get to go for our scooter ride or not!