Parent or Referee?

I find myself mid-way through the second week of my children’s Spring Break.  I’m encouraged to say that it is going fairly well.  Especially considering what we’ve had to work with.  Which hasn’t been much.

Both of my kids have been sick over Spring Break.  Respiratory colds, for both Coco & Lou, have kept us from doing much, other than sitting in the house, watching movies, watching TV, playing hide & seek, and my two kiddo’s relying on their imaginations.

They have done quite a good job of relying on their imaginations over the last week and a half.  As I type this, the two of them are pretending to be Chef’s from the TV show, Cutthroat Kitchen, from the Food Network channel.  On this TV program, four chefs compete for a chance to be the last Chef standing and win money.  The show consists of three rounds, with one Chef being “cut” at the end of each round by the World Renowned Chef that tastes and evaluates the food prepared.  My children love this show.  Both Coco and Lou watch it every week.  To keep themselves entertained this week they’ve decided to emulate this show.

To start the game they set the iPad timer for 1 minute.  This is the time allotted to pick your ingredients from the kitchen/pantry.  Then, they set the time for 10 minutes, (on the show, it provides 30 mins), to cook and prepare the meal.  Oh, by the way, did I mention they are not cooking real food?  They are “shopping” from Lou’s pretend kitchen in the toy room.  Oh, and guess who gets to be the World Renowned Chef to evaluate the food?  Yours Truly!  🙂

Listening to the two of them play, together, laughing and having fun, is music to my ears.  Growing up an only child, I knew it was never an option to have just one child.  At least not for me.  I would have preferred to have no children than to have a singleton.  Not that being an only child didn’t have it’s perks.  However, I always wanted a brother or sister to enjoy life with.  Listening, and watching, my children be that for one another is very precious to me.

The best part, this week, has been listening to their conflict resolution skills being put to use.  I’ve discovered, over the past few years, that being a parent to multiple children also brings along with it a certain responsibility.  Perhaps, the better word to use here is, a certain job.  You see, often times, when my children are arguing with one another about something, I no longer feel like a parent.  I feel like a Referee.  Yes, a Referee.

Too often, Coco and Lou will look to me to resolve their conflicts, settle the fight, and return the peace within their relationship.  Yet, you know what, I hate having this role.  Usually what ends up happening is I feel as if I have merely taken sides of one over the other.  Someone gets mad, even more mad than they were to begin with, and, it usually ends up being at me.  Oftentimes one of them gets sent to their room for arguing with me.  And I swear, there are times, when I wish I had a whistle that I could blow to get back control of the situation.

Yet, this isn’t how this last week and a half has played out.  I haven’t needed a black and white striped Referee outfit.  I haven’t found myself wishing for a whistle.  I haven’t needed to seat Coco and Lou in their respective penalty boxes.  No, they have figured out, amongst themselves, fairly well, how to coexist and have fun with one another.  And, it’s been an absolute joy for me!  To watch them growing, maturing, and changing, right before my very eyes.  And, to think, that I may be able to retire my Referee outfit at their new found ability to problem solve, with one another.  Ok, perhaps I won’t retire it yet.  Maybe I will simply set it aside in my closet for the time being.

The latest “meal” is almost ready to serve as I hear the countdown of the clock that prep time is almost up.  My responsibility in this game is about to return.  I think instead of listening to the two of them play I will go work on being a more active participant.  I hope whatever they’ve cooked for me is absolutely delicious!!

Originally written 8Apr15

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