Tuesday, May 25, 2010

You've Been Served

Do your kids say that to each other? I mean, after someone has dished out a really snappy (often sarcastic or jibing) comment or comeback? I've heard it off and on from my four older kids a lot lately. A. LOT.  In harsh, snarky tones. Usually followed by a laugh or snort by the older, snappier  dudes. It really bugs me on a couple levels, especially when I've seen and heard it used as a means of furthering one's own agenda or exploiting another's weaknesses. It's become almost a catch phrase for a whole attitude that I think has recently infected our house. (Along with the second round of strep, fourth cold, and various and sundry allergy related ailments.)

So The Boss and I decided it was time to do something about it.

Well, The Boss and I agreed that something must be done about it. I actually did the doing this morning. First thing out the gate. Mondays are good that way for me. Fresh start, clean slate and all that.

I mean, I tackled it first thing out the gate AFTER I had my morning coffee started and AFTER (yet another) call to the pediatrician to schedule a squeeze-in appointment for Baby BlueEyes. I do have my priorities you know.

So, yeah. Anyway.

We've been frustrated these last few weeks with the degrees of selfish behavior and speech we've seen in our Gang. We know all the STUFF that goes into making it this way: the unending rainy spring days, the sniffles and colds, the ages and stages of development, blah, blah, blah.  But we also know that the WORD says that that STUFF isn't an excuse for sinful behavior.  And quite frankly, just between you and me, The Boss and I have been pretty lax about addressing the ROOTS of these behaviors. We have gotten caught in the big 'ole yawning trap of treating the behavior. Of reacting to the inconvenience and chaos that the behavior creates. Of slapping band-aids all around. All the while, green, slimy oozy stuff has been leaking out around those band-aids. Wounds have been inflicted and infected. And here we are, slapping band-aids all around.

Oh. Gross. That's a nasty metaphor.

But it works. Metaphorically.

We talked a lot to the kids over the weekend about truly loving each other. About serving each other out of the abundance of that love. We reminded them that NO ONE in this house should EVER. EVER. EVER. feel unsafe, disrespected, or unloved. That in OUR FAMILY, we don't inflict wounds. We heal wounds. We MUST heal each other's wounds. That we all have a part to play in that. And that dadgum it, we were all going to be doing something to change it up and get at the roots in each of the Gang.

The thing is?  Getting at the roots requires heart change. Heart surgery, if you will, to dig out and excise that little root of sin that is at the bottom of those wounds. And a doctor who is walking around with big nasty oozy wounds of his her own is kind of infectious. Contagious. And NOT in a good way. If you can guess where I'm going with this, then maybe you've been there, too? Kind of a "Physician Heal Thyself" thing goin' on here at the moment . . .

I know, I know. Enough with the oozing wounds, right?

So, where was I? Oh, yeah. I did something about it this Monday morning.  My new motto is "If you aren't going to serve each other out of love, then you WILL serve them out of sheer obedience to my command."

Heh. That sounds way harsher in black and white here than it did when I actually summarized it for my sweet little Gang members.

Basically, my new, inventive, getting-to-the-root-of-the-selfishness-between-siblings tactic is going to look like this:  if a little Gang member dishonors, disrespects, or otherwise hurts another member of this little Gang, the offending member is going to be instructed to serve that offended member in a very specific manner. For example, when a certain sibling responds to a certain other sibling's request to start her half of the weekly trash job with a huff and a puff and rolling of the eye, said sibling will be instructed to extend her portion of the trash job by emptying the diaper pail for the requesting sibling. And when she pouts at this new and creative disciplinary tactic to her Momma, she will further be instructed to fetch the big brothers' nasty, stinky, dirty laundry basket and sort it for a load of colors to be started.

(Not that any of this actually happened Monday afternoon around 4:40 p.m.)

Loosely, I am thinking of it as a kind of a "fake it till you make it program for kids."  A focused, concerted effort at teaching them that interacting with one another always has a consequence attached. And that if they choose NOT to behave in a manner of loving servanthood, they will be carrying out a consequence NOT of their choosing that benefits and serves that person regardless. They'll either keep faking it or they will experience a change of heart toward one another and MAKE IT real servanthood. Real love and covering and care.

If nothing else, there's going to be a lot of jobs done (grudgingly or otherwise) by a particular couple Gang members.  And I know one little Gang member who might not have to make his own bed again till September!

As for my own, nasty, infectious STUFF? Well, I'm working on it. My worst habit I've decided that I need to address is to bellow and screech speak less. Even if it means biting my tongue. This effort of responding to their yuck with an example of control and patience and intentionality is really hard. It's especially hard with Li'l Empress, who is in a lovely toddler stage of whining. About everything. Sometimes repeating the same whiny phrase over and over and over and over.  It's so much easier to respond to her with a similar level of whining, in my adult voice, of course. {Snort.}

My vocal cords are thanking me already and it's only been a day or two. But my tongue hurts.  I think I might have drawn blood on that last bite.


Promises Fulfilled said...

This is an awesome response. This is something that we were talking about in Sunday School a few weeks ago (the class was based on Danny Silk's book "Loving Our Kids on Purpose...I still need to finish reading this). Anyway, what you are doing is exactly what T.N. suggested us doing. My kids are not at this point yet, but will soon be there. Keep us posted as to how this goes! :)

heidi @ ggip said...

I think that is great that you are doing something to cause more respect to show in your household.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Oh, my lands... I have heard those same exact words coming out of my sister's mouth! Y'all must be reading the same Book. *grin*

Aus said...

"At the end of the day all we have is each other - and if we aren't loving each other then we're alone. Love each other - it's a family rule" (Aus book of family rules - page 1 line 1) Not real eloquent - but true!

FITYMI for kids - there could be a book in that GM!

hugs - nice work - and you can't put a band aid on your tounge...won't stick....

aus and co.

Wife of the Pres. said...


Today in fact.

Whatsup with the bickering and back-biting? Is something in the air or what?

I am loving your service project. I need to tweak my new chore chart to incorporate this somehow. ;)

Wife of the Pres. said...

P.S. If you find the aforementioned band-aid for the screeching … ahem … Momma … let me know. :)

P.S.S. Don't even tell my SW 'bout my need for said band-aid.