It’s now been about three weeks of Jake and Fiona being at each other’s throats whenever they’re alone. They’ve been fine in public, but put them in a room alone together and Fiona will be crying within five minutes.
When the kids have dinner on weekdays, sometimes I eat with them, sometimes I stay in the kitchen cleaning up (where I can see them the whole time), or sometimes I use that time to relax or get a few minutes on the computer. Leaving them alone to eat a meal never used to be a big deal. They used to like each other’s company. But lately, I just don’t know what’s going on! I think Jake is realizing that Fiona’s not a delicate little thing any more, getting closer to being his equal, and he’s getting jealous. But it’s not all his fault: Fiona can drop to the ground in pain for no reason as convincingly as any Turkish soccer player (sorry, my husband’s been watching the games – he’s Turkish – and they’ve been taking some serious dives).
So, I got them their dinner, and settled in on the couch. Five minutes later, it started. Fiona screamed as though someone was pulling her hair, and Jake ran into the living room clutching the last piece of quesadilla. “Mommy, she’s trying to take the last piece but she hasn’t eaten any of the food on her plate yet!” Fiona was still screaming. I yelled at her to come in. When she finally did (after crying and screaming at Jake for a few more minutes), she collapsed on the floor, wailing that Jake was stealing her dinner. I tried to explain to her that she couldn’t take more until she had eaten what was on her plate, and if she was still hungry after that I would make her more. She finally dragged herself back to the table, but oh, the injustice!
Then, Jake kept putting his hands right near (but not on) her plate. (I can remember doing this kind of crap to my sisters.) I yelled again. Then Fiona ran into the living room again, because Jake had put cheese on her broccoli when she had wanted to do it (I think he was actually trying to be nice, after getting yelled at a couple of times). Then, Jake ran in saying that Fiona had told him to shut up. I had had enough. I sent them both upstairs to their room, dinners half eaten.
I let them come down about ten minutes later, and explained to them that from now on, anyone who tattled on the other (for something that was not dangerous or an emergency) was going to get punished. That they had to work this petty shit out for themselves. That I didn’t want to hear about anybody telling anybody else to shut up, or who was almost touching something, or who called whom stupid. I just don’t care. So whoever bothered me with that sort of stuff would get a punishment.
Dr. Phil (yes, I watch him!) talks about bad situations needing a hero. I tried to explain to them (Jake especially) that somebody can decide, at the beginning of an argument, to be the hero and end it right there, by walking away or ignoring the other person. That even though that doesn’t get you immediate attention, and it’s harder for someone to notice when you do something right, that I would notice and remember. We’ll see how it goes.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom