Every night at bedtime is Hell.
Three boys in one bathroom, with three showers to take, three teeth-brushings to muster, three hair-checking-outings going on at one time. Generally one of them will drop the towel, make some sad reference (sad to us Moms, at least), and then there will be punching.
Tonight, Middle Son told Oldest Son he looked STOOPID (happily for me, this is still the worst pejorative they throw at each other in my hearing. Idiot, maybe, shows up once in a while, but they’re outgrowing that one) (at least where I can hear).
Middle Son started out laughing. Then Middle Son was on the floor in the hallway, screaming, “MOM!” He was no longer laughing.
Mom was in the kitchen, finishing the dishes, praying this would all go away…
So I, of course, intervene, and the children are all safely ensconced in their beds at this moment.
But I reflect…
Eldest and I had a moment (after I’d rug-burned his arm because he’d sucker-punched his brother). He wanted to know why punching an idiot younger brother was bad behavior. He had been told (by MY older brother, of course) that it was the Eldest’s Brother’s job to abuse the Younger.
I told him he was doing fine, and that he reminded me completely of his elder Uncle in that respect. He preened. And then I said:
“If you act like an Arse-candle, you’re going to be treated like an Arse-candle.” Otherwise known as the Golden Rule, Scalzi-style.
This resulted in many things:
First thing: giggling fit from Eldest Son. He’d learned a new swear-word, and a new way to call other people bad names. He was completely appriciative of this, especially as it came from Mom. Any time you can tank your enemies with Mom’s sanction – well done, you!
Second thing: He had no idea what I was talking about. Which means his enemies have no idea what I’m talking about. This comes down to the “My Dad’s smarter than your Dad” view of things, which makes my son really happy, as road trips are filled with ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ on the cell-phone, so he’s a pretty bright guy, and this makes him think he’s smart. But gives him no idea about his buddies.
Third thing: I have done my son a disservice. He has no idea how badly his ass is about to be kicked. Really. He thinks he’s strong – and he is actually pretty strong – but eventually his ass will be kicked. And my disservice is letting him think this ass-kicking will be avoided.
I can serve my son best by letting him be THE MAN.