Whew. Last night was rough. By the time we got home from carpool, and drums, and practice, and brother’s baseball game, it was 8:15 pm and we hadn’t even started homework or eaten dinner. I had done my best to give everyone a pep talk before we got into the house, but the wheels quickly fell off and chaos ensued.
I tried my best to remain positive. From my helm at the stove, I gave homework help and was attempting to call out directives to keep our night rolling. With each interaction, I kept becoming more frustrated as my darling kiddos debated, refused, or flat out ignored. How hard is it to just listen? Finally, I found myself at my whits end.
“Guys! We are on the same team!”
As the words came out of my mouth, the epiphany of an analogy hit me. All 5 of my dudes have been on a team at some point in their childhood, so I figured it was a good way to look at our family dynamic. Team Patella. We’ve even had shirts made! And though the days of my kids allowing me to dress them in matching outfits has long faded, the vibe of us being a like-minded unit is still very much our reality.
I called everyone into the same room, and they excitedly anticipated my upcoming soliloquy. (I made that last part up.) I’m now paraphrasing what I’m sure was a perfectly delivered oratory…the message, I thought, was a good one.
‘We are on the same team.
Sometimes I am going to be your teammate. I will play alongside you, working together to move us along. I will sit next to you while you do your homework, sometimes until 10 pm. I will throw the ball in the backyard so you can get extra practice for your next game. Being a teammate feels fun. I am on the field with you. We are on the same team.
Sometimes I am going to be your coach. I will direct from the sidelines, with a vantage point that only I have so that I can move us along. I will map out your week on a whiteboard so we can see upcoming tests and projects. I will organize chore charts so that we can stay on top of the house. Being a coach isn’t easy, but we work best when I can tell you what play we are doing, and you follow through. I am watching out for you from the sidelines. We are on the same team.”
I felt good about our talk. It had locker room pep talk vibes. We didn’t throw our hands in, but I’d say it changed the tone of the evening. No, this didn’t alleviate all of our nightly squabbles, but I felt like I was able to verbalize why I was so frustrated. As parents, we need to remind our kids that there are times when things can be discussed, but sometimes I just need to be able to say “Get in the shower,” and it not be met with gnashing of teeth and an argument as to why it makes more sense for his brother to go first. They wouldn’t question their coach like that, would they?
Last night wasn’t our best showing, but everyone finished homework, cleaned off, and ate dinner…albeit at 9 pm. Nights like that are bound to happen. Schedules are going to be less than ideal. If I’m honest, there are many instances where I feel more like a referee than anything else! But, reminding our kids that we’re on the same team will hopefully make them fewer and farther between.