Jesse ran screaming to dad:
“Grace is not letting me play the Play Station!!!”
Dad bent himself over the bannister and yelled downstairs,
“Grace! You are to let Jesse have an equal turn on the Play Station!”
Jesse harrumphed and stomped hard – twice – on the ground.
“THAT’S how you’re going to HANDLE IT?”
Yes, it was. What was HIS suggestion? A summit for universal house-peace?
They run screaming to us every day, sounding a bit like:
“Noah used all the milk – HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO EAT MY CEREAL!”
“WHYYYYYYY do I have to let the dogs out – Grace was supposed to do that!”
“Grace just punched me in the arm!” Retort: “Well, that’s because Jesse called me STUPID!”
All we do is handle it, it seems. More than one in the room means no peace in the house. All these fights pour in like waves on our heads, and we yell, we plead, we cajole. We separate, negotiate. We work with what we have, which most times seems like very little. I whisper sometimes, thinking that the low tone will get them to stop simply because they’re curious as to what I have to say, because it’s an interruption in the cadence of their brawling. Like a shaman whispering a healing that never comes. Noah usually shoots, “SPEAK UP!” And then everyone is back to yelling.
Do everyone’s kids fight like this? Are their houses packed-stadium loud? Do other parents bite their lips when the school bus unloads its cargo and their children are chasing each other down the driveway, hurling insults?
My nieces are quiet, as are my friends’ children. The little playmates that come to visit us are as mousy as can be. Is the comparative loudness of our kids some function of a lapse in parenting, or are there genetics at work here that we can’t ever contain? Noah is – Noah has always been – the fire starter.
His mien is angry of late. As he grows older, he seems to grow crueler. Or maybe there is no safety in his mind when he comes home from the chaos of school and his siblings invade that part of his environment (his h0me) that ought to be calm. I can guarantee his four-year-old brother doesn’t do much to make for a quiet house. Jesse set himself to screaming the other day because he was trying to create the wrestling cage from a WWE match on his iPad in Minecraft: “I CAN’T MAKE THE CELL!” I am plumbing this question now, and haven’t an answer.
Noah cannot even be served dinner without serving some snarling contempt right back.
“Mom – you KNOW I hate rice! Ugh!” (shoving plate away) “Forget it. I’m not going to eat!”
I’m tired today. There are no quiet days here. Why do people only have a single child?
Oh honey, I’m sure I know the answer to that one. Now, I do.
My hands aren’t big enough to push kids to their respective corners and keep them there. So Lord, can you help us handle it? I don’t know how.