Does anybody remember the Coffee Talk sketch from SNL? Mike Meyers was “Linda Richmond” with long fingernails and a Jersey accent. “Call me, we’ll talk. No big whoop.”
My best friend Cathy and I would spend hours trying to perfect that accent when we were in junior high. I don’t think I was allowed to actually stay up late enough to watch the show, but she could and she’d repeat it all for me verbatim on Monday morning and we’d laugh ourselves silly.
There’s still VHS proof of our own attempt at a Coffee Talk sketch, big hair and all. But I have the only copy and I plan to keep it under wraps.
So today I asked the Facebook Page folks what they’d want to talk about if we could sit down and have coffee. And it really made me want to take you all out for a latte. And maybe flash some long nails and a Jersey accent…
I got a couple of folks who wondered how we cope with siblings fussing. If we were all sitting around the table nursing our mochas, I’d tell you what we do and then I’d want to hear what you do.
So let’s pretend we’re at a table. I’ll go first and then you guys fire back at me, ok? It’s a conversation, not a monologue. (I hope.)
A very wise person fed me the line that we use regarding all sibling relationships: Your relationship with your brother or sister is more important.
It’s more important than the toy, it’s more important than the iPad, it’s more important than your own agenda.
The Relationship is The Thing.
So I handle kids fussing at each other the same way at any age. If Willa and Mira are screaming about a toy, the toy is mine. I don’t really care who had it first nor do I have time to sort it out. If they have been reduced to fussing over it, it’s pretty safe to assume they’re both at fault somehow. I take it away and say, “Your relationship is more important. Now hug it out and find something to do together.”
The toy remains mine until they’ve forgotten it and moved on. It can return to rotation when they don’t care about it any more.
If Ellen and Sam are arguing about who goes first on the iPad, I’m lucky enough to have enough kids so I can say, “Ian and Adam will go before you do.”
Relationship trumps their “rights.” Every time.
As far as taking turns on the iPad, I usually give them each 15 minutes. They are allowed to watch their siblings play (that’s my current policy, anyway, I may change that) and they are required to keep up with the time. If they are dishonest, they lose their privileges. If I hear one word of fussing about it, the fussers lose their iPad privileges for the day, whether they’ve had their full turn or not.
This policy is just as much for my own sanity as for theirs. I am not Solomon nor do I get paid a king’s ransom to sort out every petty argument in perfect fairness. It will slap wear a mama out.
It IS in the best interest of everyone if I do not run myself ragged playing judge and jury all day long. So we have an across-the-board zero-tolerance policy for unkindness of any sort.
If a particular pair of siblings is really struggling to be nice, than I find some sort of chore for them to do together. Or, if one of the big kids is being unkind to one of the Littles, we’ve been known to put the Big child in charge of playing with that Little for the rest of the day.
They quickly learn some patience when they have to follow the whims of a four year old for an afternoon.
I think the key is to not beat yourself up about “fairness.” The goal isn’t to teach our kids how to be fair. The goal is to teach our kids how to love others well.
And the first place they learn Love for Others is in the family.
Alright. I’m gonna stop and take a metaphorical swig of my mocha. How do YOU handle sibling rivalry? How do you dole out iPad time and keep straight whose turn it is?
Or are your children of the mythical variety who would never take a swing at their sister over possession of a toothbrush?
Comment. We’ll talk. No big whoop…