Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Choosing our battles in the Hormone Wars.

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.)

Punishment Ensues

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."

"Is that all you got!?!"  You're getting lazy in your old age."

"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)

            "Or snowing."

"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.

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  1. I love your new set up, very nice. And I love all the thought processes and conclusions and punishments. I will not only be calling you to make the next birthday cake for our family, but also to resolve any parenting dilemmas I might encounter. Maybe we could make you and Peter honorary members of our board. That would be both entertaining and productive, I'm all for it.

  2. Love your new blog look!

    Haha, that was an awesome post. *sigh* seems like the kids are always at each other's throats for one thing or another. I can only imagine what they will turn into once puberty kicks in!

  3. I LOVE your posts! Though this one does make me not look forward to when mine reach this wonderful age in their lives. Good thing I have people to turn to like you that will be able to say "been there, done that, doing it" by then.

  4. First, I love the new look!
    Second, you guys are a great team at figuring out how to make the most of your yahoos years!
    Keep on keepin' on!!!


  5. Charlotte, you're so creative! I love the dialogue with the little thumbnail pictures!

    Of course, the kids only want what the other one has, or doesn't want the other one to have it. It's a while mental process of their own, right? I'm back to this thing where if they fight they have to do "mitzvahs" (good deeds) for each other to earn back privileges. You should see them cleaning each other's rooms!

  6. I love it when I can get after my kids and have a good laugh with my husband at the same time. And I can't WAIT until my kids can cook dinner all on their own. (we are getting close, they can do breakfast and lunch, and occasionally dinner but only when I get REALLY lazy and have chicken nuggets or hotdogs for dinner.)

  7. Wow! You all are so good with your kids. Did I mention screwdrivers can take license plates off cars? Not that I would do that (need to roll my eyes a bit).

    You put up a great united front. That is going to become much more important as time goes on. Trust me.

  8. That was really good parenting. Like the team effort, especially. As a long time veteran of the hormone wars I have a lot of sympathy.

  9. When I was a teen, my mother described me by saying "her body and brain are at war and her mouth's caught in the crossfire". Granted, she was nearly as bad (about the only time I ever felt any sympathy for my stepfather was when my mother and I had PMS at the same time).

    Where could I find that chicken and rice recipe?

  10. I tried to get Abraham to cook dinner, it just didn't work. I agree that is a very lucky thing you have going for you. Is Ryan's hair much longer than I've seen it before?

  11. Going to remember the mitzvah idea.

    Yes, Ryan's hair is longer. I've been trying to convince them to grow it out. I actually bought hair gel for my oldest boys today.

    Dual PMS is even worse when you're the parent (or so I've found).

  12. This is not a stage of life I look forward to. At all. I can only imagine the screaming wars that await our household...

  13. Excellent parenting. My husband and I have these conversations all the time but I can't say they always end with my ten-year-old smiling. Although . . . he usually agrees with the verdict and that's its own victory.

  14. Very cool new look! And I love the thumbnail pictures- very cute. I was cracking up at your dialogue with your husband. Glad to know we're not the only ones who can't make up our minds!

  15. Choosing battles is critical. My friend once said to me how unfair it is to have the last of the kids reaching the mid-teens when YOU are starting pre-menopausal stuff your self.

  16. The chicken and rice recipe? You have to remember you are talking to a less than stellar cook. We just chop and cook the chicken and add cream of chicken soup and milk and serve over rice with pineapple and cheese and (if I have them) tomatoes.

  17. You guys are great. Let the wars continue and you gain more and more soldiers. You become the captain and good luck. In the end all become friends and peace reigns. Remember when you tried to bribe Brenda to run away from home? Love you punishment ideas.

  18. I'd like more information about "when you tried to bribe Brenda to run away from home." Perhaps its own post?

    I'm glad the hormone wars are still a ways off for me. Although I get glimpses of what it will be like with my already-super-sassy 5-year-old. I'm taking notes, Charlotte, so don't let me down :)

  19. Hey we call that meal Hawaiian Haystacks at my house. We add the crunchy oriental noodles on top. My kids love it and it is super easy to make.

  20. Why is it that husbands seem to be so in tune with teenagers and hormones? It was my husband who advised me when our son was approaching the age of "teenage mental illness" as we like to call it.

    Good luck on your journey. ;-)

  21. Charlotte, I hate to tell you but Elise will in fact be fighting with her brothers until the youngest (probably) graduates college. I know, I'm the first born.

    And... expect there to be actually fighting (sorry!). I once jumped off a bed trying to attack my brother for coming into my room...I think I was 15 at the time? Suffice it to say I only hurt myself (landed on a radiator instead of my brother) in the process AND got punished for it!

    And before you think "Oh my goodness she's so violent!" We're not, I promise! But my youngest brother is 18 and we still argue bitterly, over stupid things (my brothers outgrew me many years ago).

    My 23 YO brother is a completely different story (the one I jumped off the bed at). We're actually good friends now!

  22. More wonderful story-telling, Charlotte. Thank you!

    But now you have me questioning my wish to have a girl to add to our band of brothers...

  23. Wow, I'm glad that everyone made it out OK. That was a tough battle!

    Love the new look,by the way. :-)

  24. I love that the doctor in Peter had to explain the behavior that each type of hormone was responsible for.

    The thumbnails were a cute touch. I enlarged Elise's, and I must say she has gorgeous eyes. Lucky girl. Doubly lucky because in our neighborhood, her bike would have been gone. We've had two stolen from our driveway when my kids forgot to lock them. Fortunately, I've discovered the bike thief and have recovered both of ours.

    Good parenting. It's good to recognize that consequences don't have to feel too much like punishments. An inconvenience is sometimes enough.

  25. As always, you make me smile and I really thank you for that. I love the new look by the way!

    Surprising what can be learned about parenthood from your exchange. I'm stealing some of this for future!

  26. Good punishment. I approve. Love the comment about eating our own. Made me laugh.

  27. I am an older parent with five children ranging from the ages of 24 yrs. to 22 mo. I have a 14 yr old daughter, four yr old son and the almost two yr. old daughter still at home, plus I think I am about to enter that hormomal stage of menopause. So, it can really be a zoo dealing with all the different ages and hormones!

    This post made me smile. I was just reminded this week at our church Parent & Me group of a great parenting method called 1,2,3, Magic.(I have that swiss cheese memory thang, too!)It is a really simple method of handling "Stop" behavior for 2 - 12 yr olds that keeps us parents(Moms especially)from engaging. Most libraries have a copy of both the book and an accompanying DVD or VHS. When your child(ren) engage in undesirable behavior ie nagging, fighting, interrupting phone conversations, etc... you simply say "That's one." If the behavior worsens or continues, you keep counting up to 3 and then you say, "Take five". They have to then go to their rooms, a corner, whatever you have previously established, for five minutes. If they do something really egregious, it is an automatic 3 and they get ten minutes. When the time is over, they come out and you do not discuss, lecture, or even mention the behavior. Your two older children are probably too old to send them to their rooms, but at the count of three, I have sometimes sent MYSELF to my room and that can be punishment enough for those vying for my attention.

    I also heard a wonderful idea from our guest speaker. She had two particular children, a boy and girl,surprise, surprise, who were constantly squabbling. She began putting both of them in a chair and they would have to give each other permission to get down before they could leave the chairs. She said it was a riot to see how the drama changed from, "I'm not EVER letting YOU down, Pigface" to cooperating with one another so they could be released. In my experience, it is usually best to discipline both children involved, no matter who started it, rather than to play judge. That motivates them to work it out themselves because they learn that if they get a parent involved, there is a cost to pay.

    Most of the time, our children are in a conspiracy to try to get us parents riled up and to see how often they can get the other one in trouble. When we fall for it, we are only strengthening the labels "bully" or "victim". I learned all this from a book that has really helped me over the years: Children: the Challenge by Rudolph Dreikurs, M.D.

    I have also asked my children to "do a service for your sibling" or Mitzvah as Linda put it in her post. Good Luck and thanks for sharing and keeping the rest of us in the parent trenches laughing. You already have the most important part of parenting down: keeping a sense of humor!!!

  28. Ha ha...good one. My oldest are girl17 and boy15 I know what you are going through. I cannot wait until the younger ones are that age and I am menopausal on top of it all! Oh what good times lay ahead!

  29. @megan I was the oldest, too. My sister and I fought horribly and are great friends now. I'm hoping my kids do the same!

  30. @Sonia- I need to be more consistent at not just ignoring them as things escalate. You make a good point about them trying to get the other kids in trouble. That happens all the time at our house and it makes me crazy!I'll look up the books you mentioned, thanks.

  31. Very nice, very nice.

    I am not looking forward to those days. I'm okay with diapers right about now.

  32. Oh my....I just realized what my life is coming to.

    I have 2 kiddos that already have a love/hate relationship.....and when hate is on it's ugly. They are a girl and boy, 19 months apart....so reading your post suddenly gave me a look into what will be happening at our house in a few short years when the hormones hit.

    There could possibly be blood spilt. I will be found hiding in my room.