While I’m nowhere near finished with my “job,” I know that I’m on the right track. There are some members of my extended family who have criticized my kids and the way I raise them. Do I care about those opinions? Not enough to change what I’m doing. Did those opinions hurt? Hell yes. But here’s the thing. I. know. that. I. have. great. kids. Not good. GREAT!
Yes, they fight. There are FIVE of them and they are all extremely close in age and in a less than 1000 square foot 3-bedroom apartment. They have 5 extremely different personalities and interests and tolerance levels. They are all pretty vocal and equal on the teasing playing field. They all have great senses of humor complete with sarcastic rapier wit. They fight over the t.v., the computer and whose turn it is to do dishes. What kids don’t? Do they fist fight? Yes. Do I allow it? No. Do they do it anyway? Yes. But I break it up and hand out punishments by taking away privileges.
For whatever fighting, teasing or tattling that they do, they are also extraordinarily helpful. My kids are the ones that see a woman struggling with bags of groceries and walk up and take the bags from her hands so that she can get out her keys to open the front door. They won’t carry the groceries upstairs to her apartment because they aren’t allowed to. But they will set them inside the door of the building. Unless it’s someone that we know or unless they yell up to our balcony and let me know what they’re doing first. My kids help with dishes…some of them without being told. Others help on the threat of no computer time. One actually gets bored and cleans out closets. Another will clean the stove top (a job that I abhor.) And one got sick of the handprints in the hallway and actually scrubbed down the walls for me 2 nights ago.
I still have to yell to get anyone to get the dirty laundry INTO the hamper as opposed to under the beds, but I never said they were perfect. My youngest buys me little things that he thinks I might like. If he gets 5 pounds spending money from his father, he immediately asks one of his older brothers to take him to the corner shop to “buy stuff.” He almost always comes back with a can of diet soda or a piece of gum or a package of ramen noodles for me. I don’t have the heart to tell him that I cannot stand the thought of ramen noodles after living on them for nearly two semesters of college. I get love notes from them. My 13-yr old leaves me “I’m sorry” and “I love you” notes when I’m having a bad day. My oldest likes to text his love notes to me…usually after we have one of those “teenage angst” days together. My younger daughter will just go make my bed or wash a load of dishes if she’s attempting to apologize. And my youngest is just a big hugger. My older daughter will tell me “Sorry, Mommy. Give me a hug.” For an autistic kid, she’s starting to learn empathy.
I know that I have put a lot on here about the OMG they’re running me nuts times….but I guess that’s because I use this blog as a sort of creative outlet to my own stress to keep from having an aneurysm or ripping out all of my eyebrows which are both inconvenient and terribly unattractive….especially when I get that nervous twitch in my face. But all in all, I have great kids who are learning to deal with other personality types in small spaces on a daily basis. And if they fight well, they make up better. And that’s something that a lot of adults STILL need to learn how to do. Clearly, I’m doing something right.