Miraculously we've managed to get through the first few days of the holidays relatively unscathed.
On Tuesday, I held a brief family meeting, outlining my expectations of them- to be met before I came out of my room in the mornings (since they get up at an ungodly hour every morning). The list included:
- brushing teeth and hair; and general grooming
- getting dressed
- tidying the rooms in which they spent time
- packing the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher
- sitting with their Arabic studies, with the older sibling helping the younger. I test each one on their daily lesson later on in the day.
But very often it is the sound of shouting and arguing accompanied by shrieks of pain that brings me running out of the room just in time to break up an argument or brawl. The disagreements usually emanate from the division of labour- with each one believing that he/she is being unfairly burdened by doing the bulk of the work.
"Why do I have to do EVERYTHING?!!" moans Shakeel after having picked up just three of his clothing items off the carpet in his room. "Can you see, Mommy? Tharaa's just sitting there- DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!"
"I'm not doing nothing!" she shouts angrily. "I'm picking up the toys from under the bed." And then under her breath (but still hoping that he will hear) she mutters, "Stupid dumbass."
Which is when I am forced to step in.
Reluctantly. It's freakin' morning. I haven't even had my cup of coffee yet and I now I have to become creative, which is what meting out punishment to three perpetrators with very different personalities usually requires. Firstly, I have to figure out what currency I have, i.o.w. what is the item/activity which means enough to her so that, if deprived of it, she will feel really crappy.
With Shakeel, that decision is easy. Take away his Playstation and he's devastated. Deprive him of a visit to his friends and it's as if you are depriving him of life-giving oxygen.
With Tharaa it's far more complicated. No matter what I deprive her of, she just shrugs her shoulders with a nonchalant, "Okay, that's fine," which leaves me feeling frustrated for not having selected the correct currency to deal with her. The problem is that either there is very little about which she feels passionately OR she is really shrewd and she hides how much she really likes something to ensure that it never gets taken away from her as punishment.
So it's early morning and I'm already being faced with such a difficult decision (namely, what can Tharaa's punishment be). Which is when I decide that this is all B.S.- my parents didn't have to face such dilemmas- one klap (smack) and it had all been taken care of.
But since I'm not too certain about the legal ramifications of giving your child a klap under our new dispensation, I'll just say that I went 'old school' on her butt- and leave it at that.
They usually don't stay angry at one another for too long. Because soon after they're done tormenting each other, they start to torment me.
"Where are we going today? Are we staying home all day? Take us to McDonalds!"
On Wednesday I reluctantly took them to McDonalds. 'Reluctantly' because I'm the mum who usually moans about healthy eating and reduces my kids to tears by dishing vegetables onto their plates with each meal.
But I could no longer fight them, so off we went to the land of processed meat and fried foods. To appease my conscience I spent the entire meal nagging at them about how unhealthy the food was that I was being forced to feed them. Hopefully they did not listen to me or take me seriously (as is usually the case)- or I could possibly become the main topic of future therapy sessions.
We are off to a picnic in Greenpoint Park later today. The kids have been bouncing off the walls with excitement since 7:00 am.
Urgh, I have to go- I think I hear a fight breaking out over whose turn it is to tidy away the shoes.