We realize we're in a battle field
Getting ready for a lovely Sunday afternoon walk escalated quickly last weekend into a scream fest between my two oldest children. Seems one decided the only acceptable bike helmet was her brother's and the other decided (after not wearing said helmet for a year or so) he absolutely had to wear it, too. Peter and I watched, perplexed, and I asked him if my memory was shot or hadn't they both been wearing our helmets forever? He assured me my memory is indeed shot, but I was correct in this instance.
As we began walking down the street I asked him, "What, pray tell, is wrong with them?!?"
(Yes, I do speak sometimes as though I belong in a different century)
"Don't you know, yet? The Hormone Wars have begun. Estrogen makes her overly sensitive and testosterone makes him a territory protecting maniac and a bit of a confrontation junky."
(I cleaned his response up a bit, there was some mention of hair growing in unmentionable places)
My husband is a wise man. Hormone driven battles explain why those two have recently started fighting all the time! In that moment of clarity I saw the next 20 or so years of my life. It would help if I wasn't also still a participant in the Hormone Wars from time to time. We estrogen driven soldiers like to eat our own, don't we?
The battle is over, but the repercussions are not
The battle ended with a BRAND NEW not INEXPENSIVE bike left for dead at the end of our driveway. I will let you decide if it was "dropped" or "pushed" as I wasn't there and both claims came from unreliable sources. My daughter stomped inside to fume and my son decided he didn't want to ride a bike after all and joined the rest of the family on foot.
When we finished the 3/4 miles around the block, the BRAND NEW not INEXPENSIVE bike was still at the end of our driveway, laying there (lying there?) as a symbol of the devastation possible during the Hormone Wars. This despite the fact that I had emphatically reminded my daughter, and made her repeat it back to me, that she was to never, ever, under any circumstances to leave her BRAND NEW not INEXPENSIVE bike unattended outside.
I quickly captured it as a prisoner of war, stashing it on the side of the house, and going inside to tell her to put her bike away. Unfortunately she found her "stolen" bike before taking my suggestion to run around the block looking for the thief.
(Hey, we parents have to find entertainment wherever we can.)
So there we sat, my irritated daughter on one couch, my husband and I on the other. As the hider of the bike I had instigated punishment and it is an unspoken understanding that the punishment instigator gets first rights in deciding punishment. While she listened, this is the conversation my sweetheart and I had (please remember the remark about my memory being shot, this is the best approximation of the conversation that I can come up with):
"So, what are you going to do with her?"
"I haven't decided yet, any ideas you're particularly fond of at the moment?"
"The way I see it, there are two things that need punished, right? Not going on the family walk and leaving the bike out."
"I was leaning towards making her cook dinner. You know, serve the family since she abandoned us on the walk, plus I don't want to cook. What dinners are left on our menu for the week?"
At this point she breaks in with "Chicken and rice. I know that was on the list this week and hasn't been made yet."
"Alright, Elise you have to cook chicken and rice for dinner tonight."
"You mean you don't think making her do one of her favorite things (cooking) with one of her favorite meals (chicken and rice) is punishment enough? All right, let me think."
(We are all struggling to keep straight faces.)
"I was thinking about grounding her from her bike, but that would be counterproductive. We bought the bike so that she could use it for exercise. No sense in punishing her by taking away something we want her to do. What's your thoughts?"
"I was leaning toward grounding the bike, but you're reasoning is sound. It can't be that."
"I know, let's punish her by making her ride her bike! Since she didn't join us on a walk around the block today, she must ride her bike two times around the block every day for a week."
"Maybe 10 times."
"10?!? That's over 7 miles. How 'bout four times?"
"Three. Elise, you have to go around the block on your bike 3 times everyday for a week."
"Unless it's raining."
(Remembering we live in New England)
"You should be punished for mentioning snow."
All's well that ends well
Granted, the punishments were not severe, not even really punishments. But in the process:
- We got our Hormone War wounded daughter to smile.
- I didn't have to make dinner.
- She is going out on her bike everyday (and her combatant participant is being "forced" to accompany her for safety).
- We made our point: family walks are not exactly optional and leaving the bike out will not be tolerated (this was her one and only warning, we made it clear the next time it really will be GONE).
- Not to mention showing her that her parents are a unified front and our punishments are based on some sort of thought process and not randomly pulled from the air (most of the time)
In the Hormone Wars, we sometimes have to choose our battles.