Thursday, December 6, 2012

There’s a New Sheriff in Town

Stick 'em up! It's a guest post from Jes...

Who's the real law in this town, anyway?
When the house grows from one child to two children and perhaps more, eventually someone receives the highly coveted bossy boots. For most homes, the boots typically go the oldest child, a natural fit given their birth order. In our home, this has certainly been true until recently. The youngest is sure giving child number one a run for his money.

Yet, he is not scared off, nor easily intimidated by the competition. Instead, he has evolved from oldest wearing bossy boots to the new sheriff in town, passing on the bossy boots to the youngest with confidence. He allows her to boss everyone around, but he is still the law, enforcing with all the maturity his 9-year-old brain and heart can muster, which is really impressive at times, and at other times, what you would expect.

As you might imagine, this has created some rather “fun” moments in our home as everyone (and I mean everyone, mom, dad, children, dog, and grandma, too) vie for power and the well earned victory lap. The need to be in control and to be right is so strong, we are in a hamster wheel all pressing for our cases to be heard and be validated… yes, even the dog’s, who has made it his singular mission to avoid the crate as much as possible.

With opposition and bulldozing the honed skills of power survival, how does a parent bring balance to the forces of nature whipping around in their home? Straight-to-the-point humor.

Resist long explanations of correction, at older ages it only makes your child dig in their heels more. Believe me, you are not telling them something new, they know and showing you in all their glory how they are getting away with it. Trust that your children are smarter than they are acting, because they really are, and they are even capable of coming to their own positive conclusions, too (which is where the real learning is).

After many attempts at being recognized as the Sheriff in the house, I decided it was time to fight fire with fire and a good dose of silliness.

My youngest was bossing the house and my oldest began to lay down the law. I casually walked in, tapped on my 9-year-old’s shoulder and said he needed to hand over his Sheriff’s badge, placing my hand out ready to receive the control. He first looked at me confused, and then he laughed. He slapped my hand saying, here is the badge. Then he ran off declaring it was a fake followed by more laughter. In other words, you got me this time Batman, but next time you’ll be mine!

Fight over in under 2 minutes! WOW! The children were all looking to me for the next move. Power regained!

My youngest was laughing, my middle who is constantly deciding if he is Swiss or a UN Peacekeeper laughed, and so did I. Then came the moral moment (cue the sappy music maestro!), I told the children to apologize to one another and shake hands for a do-over. My oldest snuggled up to me saying he shouldn’t have closed the door on his sister’s face, that he was frustrated (he came to his own conclusion). I told him I understood, people can be frustrating, especially siblings, but that is why I am Sheriff as I know how to use the law for good and he is still learning. He nodded his understanding.

And then one hour later it was time to ask for the badge again as the crazy cycle revved up once

credit where credit is due: Lego sheriff image is from Pascal


  1. cute and funny! it is true that less is more. even when it comes to nagging them about something, you keep it to one word, and they know what you mean - like "dishes!" and they know they need to get back to washing the dishes. or "bedtime!" and they know they need to go to bed. no explanations, no debates, just a simple word, simple reminder. Or when it is time to go - "shoes please"
    looking forward to reading more!

  2. Love this - practical AND funny - always a win/win!