Monday, November 9, 2009

The Rules.

First things first.... I took down that slide show set to music because, frankly, if I had to hear "somewhere over the rainbow" one more time I was going to shove a pencil through my eardrum. I guess I thought it was really cute when I posted it. Eighty-two repetitions of the ukulele have a way of changing your tune, so to speak. So, ummm, yeah. It's gone. And my eardrums just breathed a sigh of relief. I think they could sense the danger they were in.

And you know what else I did? I dug my "Good Parent" hat out of the depths of the closet, put it on, and made a behavior chart for the kids -- complete with clear expectations and consequences for poor choices. Why a behavior chart? Well.......... we were having a discussion at the dinner table the other evening that eventually, for some reason or another, came around to the fact that the boys don't kick each other at school; That, nay, they would never even dream about kicking each other at school. Or punching each other, or shoving each other, or -- in what might be considered Gibson's signature move -- grinding their foreheads into the head of the other. "Why not?" Mike and I inquired, since they apparently don't think twice about kicking the crap out of each other at home. And do you know what they said? They don't beat each other at school because "at school there are rules and stuff".

This answer of theirs intrigued me, because I swear to everything holy, AT HOME WE HAVE "RULES AND STUFF" TOO! And I am not making that up. We do! With consequences, mind you. And I'd be willing to bet that the consequences they have to face at home are stricter than anything the school is allowed to enforce. But instead of being frustrated and staring at them all slack-jawed in disbelief, we sat back and asked some questions.

"Like what, for example?"

Well, for starters, they are expected to have Safe Feet. Feet that don't kick. And Helping Hands, which by the way, don't hit. And Listening Ears. Ears that do what they're told. Ears that actually listen. Oh! And did I mention FRIENDLY MOUTHS? Well, yes! YES! Friendly mouths. Mouths that are not allowed to label someone else with an ugly name. Mouths that are not allowed to say inappropriate words. Mouths that are expected to speak in a normal tone of voice.

And do you know what sorts of consequences are implemented if there is any infringement on these rules? They have to move their alligators! Can you imagine? Every day they start on the comfort and safety of Green, but if they break a rule they must move to the not-so-comfortable Yellow. If they continue to misbehave it's Uh-Oh-Orange. Or, God forbid, RED. And no one wants to experience the horror of Red.

So you know what? I made a chart too. That very night, right after I excused myself from the dinner table. I pulled out Landis' copy of "THE RULES" and went right to work. (I mean, why re-invent the wheel? Landis's teacher did a fabulous job, and as far as I'm concerned, consistency is good.....) I went on-line and printed off pictures of the appropriate body parts -- Eyes, Ears, Mouths, Hands, Feet -- and I copied the rules, line by line, editing from the classroom for the family. I made little stick-figures to represent each of us -- Mike and I included -- because frankly, we could stand to work on the amount of yelling that both of us do. And to be fair, the rules DO dictate that if you yell, you don't have a friendly mouth. Of course, we yell because there are two little boys who are NOT using their listening ears, but we are all a work in progress, and I digress........

Last but not least, I attached the appropriate color envelope to move our "guys" into, and showed the new chart to the boys when they got out of the shower. They love it. And you know what else? It works! No one -- me included -- wants to move their guy! We remind each other every day to "use listening ears" or to have "helping hands". And yesterday, when I forgot to use my manners because I was concentrating on something else, Landis reminded me. And when I said "Thank you" he said "Well... I waited a minute and then I thought I'd remind you because I knew you wouldn't want to move your guy for not having a friendly mouth!"

It's not without it's kinks, but for the most part we're doing well. When I heard Landis call Gibson a butt-hole in the bathroom, I went right in. "Landis, do you want me to move your guy?"

"No! Nononononononono! I'm so sorry. I know I wasn't having a friendly mouth, and I'll stop. Please don't move my guy! I will always have a friendly mouth! I will not say butt, or butt-hole, or butt-crack, or butt-cheek, or wiener, or poop, or poopy, or poopy-butt, or farts, or farty-butt, or farty-pants, or boogers, or stupid, or shut up.
Oh! And crap.
I won't say crap!"
(Eyes wide, Nods with sincerity.)

So, yeah. Like I said... it's not without it kinks, but for the most part we're doing well.