BY DEBRA FEILD, MOTHER OF TWO
My kids don’t like each other, and anyone who knows me knows that I won’t sugar coat that. I do know they love each other because when one of them is sick, the other is genuinely concerned, or if one gets made fun of, they will stick up for each other. When we are on vacation they seem to get along, and I think that is because they are so happy to be away from normalcy. But in everyday life, they pretty much get on each other’s last nerve.
I’ve put up with it since, oh I don’t know, Dani could talk I guess? I’ve tried talking to them and asking them how they would like it if their dad and I fought all the time. I’ve taken away computer privileges, television, stuffed animals, grounding them to their rooms, etc. but that really hasn’t been working for me.
One day, not long ago, I went to pick them up after school, and the arguing started the minute they got together in the car. They finally got on my last nerve, and I decided I had to handle things differently and do something drastic. This is where the “game” came into play. After making them go to their rooms on a Friday afternoon for 2 hours, my daughter came downstairs at 5:30 pm. She said, “Can we come down now, Mom?” And then an idea came into my head, and I decided to try it. I told her that they could come down if they talked nicely to each other and played games together for the rest of the night. I heard her walk into Andrew’s room, and I heard her explain to him what they had to do if they were ever going to join the outside world again. At that point, I heard something I’ve never heard before, music to my ears. I heard them actually TALKING to each other. I heard Andrew put in a video game and explain to her how to play it. Nicely. He wasn’t mean to her, he wasn’t short with her; he was really teaching her how to play.
Then they came downstairs and again amazed me. They went into the “kids” living room and Dani got out one of her favorite games. Andrew actually sat down on the floor and played the game with her. My husband and I just listened. They played a game. They were talking to one another. They were laughing. They were trying to get along. This was the first time this had ever happened in our house. WOW! I was witnessing something other people would just take for granted, and I was going to soak up every single minute of it.
It has been a couple of months since they played “the game”, but their respect for each other has continued with the exception of an occasional smart remark. (I can’t expect miracles). I still don’t think they really like each other, and I know we are not out of the woods, but I know they are trying to get along and that’s all I ask. People with these same experiences have told me that their kids didn’t get along when they were little, but as adults, they are best friends, which is true with my sister and me. We were six years apart, and she wanted nothing to do with me when we were kids. But now as adults, it is like we are the same age and are the best of friends.
When you decide to have a family, you really don’t know what you are getting into. I mean, don’t we all paint the perfect picture of taking them for stroller rides, playing at the park, taking them to see Santa Claus (can’t you just see it in your head?), taking them out for ice cream, and dressing them up in cute little outfits to go out for the day? Oh, and don’t forget how we assume they will excel in school too. We don’t think about them screaming in the stroller because they “WANT TO GET OOUUUUUTTTTT”, falling down at the park and skinning their knee, breaking their wrist the first day of summer vacation getting out of a swimming pool, absolutely losing it when the are placed on Santa’s lap, and spilling chocolate ice cream down their cute little outfit we just dressed them in. (Yes, all these things have happened to me, I might add). We don’t think about the countless hours we will spend explaining homework, telling them to pick up their rooms, teaching respect, and all the work that goes into helping them become independent, well rounded, respectful human beings. What were we thinking?
I guess we have to take the good with the bad, and knowing what I know now, I still wouldn’t trade my life for anything. But maybe, just maybe, I should buy a few more games to get me through the next five years!
Debra Field is married to Darren Field and is the mother of Andrew and Danielle. She also shares her home with her crazy black lab, Bella, and two cats, Princess and Taffy. Debra is a member of St. James Church where she sings in the Folk Group and is on the advisory committee for the YMCA Jets Swim Team. She resides in Jamestown and works part time.