Flashback Friday: Not Company Men — Er, Boys

by Abby on April 11, 2014

Another blogger posted recently about older children trying to parent their younger siblings, and it reminded me of this post from my archives. Or maybe it was the stampeding through the house naked and using inside voices part that made me think of it. No matter. Enjoy!

Not Company Men — Er, Boys

The other morning the boys and I shuffled into the still-dark kitchen for breakfast. I began the usual preparations – getting their cereal, pouring their juice, making my coffee. I expected them to begin their usual squabbles over who’s sitting where and who gets which color cup. But they didn’t.

Big brother said nicely, “Riley, would you switch seats with me, please? I want to sit over there.”

Little brother replied, “OK, Miles,” and scooted over. No tears, no tantrums.

I ask you: where was this behavior a few days ago when my in-laws were here? WHERE?!

I don’t know what it is, but for some reason my kids are often horribly behaved whenever we have company. On one level, I get it. Our regular routine is disrupted; there are new people to show off for, and to compete for attention from. They don’t get to see their grandparents that often, so they’re hyped up.

Max, from Where the Wild Things Are, chasing the dog with a fork

But it’s not like we don’t enforce manners normally, then try to put on a show whenever company comes. Stampeding through the house naked and screaming, or chasing your brother while wielding a mixing spoon over your head is never OK. (That’s not to say it doesn’t happen… just that I’m not OK with it.) At least 17 times a day I prompt the boys, “What do you say?” when they ask for milk or I give them a snack. We enforce sharing and taking turns. We talk about not interrupting and using inside voices. (Notice I said “talk about” not “enforce.” If anybody’s got any suggestions…)

So it’s disheartening – not to mention humiliating – when the grandparents come to visit and the kids run around like wild hyenas with opposable thumbs, throwing toys and slamming doors. I swear I spent the entire visit trying to calm them down and keep them in check. Fun.

This constant correction of behavior has led to another issue: we often catch our 5yo son telling the 2yo, “Eat two more carrots and you can have a cookie.” Or, “Riley, no jumping off the couch.” While I appreciate the backup, I do not appreciate co-parenting with a kindergartener. His dad and I frequently remind Miles, “You are not Riley’s parent.” So the other night, my husband was reprimanding the toddler for something or other and he pipes up, “Daddy! You are not my parent!” Ummm… somehow that message got mixed up.

This parenting thing’s exhausting, I tell you. And I have just enough time to rest up before the next batch of company arrives. I’m off to hide the mixing spoons.

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