At any given moment of the day, you can hear a chorus of, "You should's", "You better's" or "You have to's" as my children attempt to boss each other. It would appear that each of my kiddos are determined to be in charge of everybody and everything ... except for their own bodies and their own things.
Here are a few examples ... I'm sure they will be familiar to you:
Ashley standing with her hands on her hips reprimanding Aaron for using too much milk for his cereal ... mainly because she is overly worried that he might possibly use the last of the 3/4 gallon of milk. Oh my head.
Or Norah correcting Lydia's use of the gymnastic mat ... but only because she wants to use the mat and her not-quite-cartwheeling sissy isn't moving off to the side quickly enough. It makes my ears hurt.
Or Aaron informing Ashley that she needs to get her shoes on and go to the van, but he's lounging on the ottoman with his newest Bionicle in his hands and nary a shoe to be found on his foot. My right eye starts twitching.
Or Lydia declaring with all her might that Ashley's choice to sit in her chosen spot on the couch is, "That not awesome!" That passionate proclamation is accompanied by a thump on Ashley's back with a giant Curious George. My shoulders tense up.
Because of this propensity to of my kids to pull on their bossy pants in the morning, we have a new saying in our home.
"Who are you the boss of?"
The correct answer, of course, is "Me."
As you can imagine we've been hearing this new chorus a lot. That's what happens when you start a new training regimen with kids ... you have to be prepared to see it through until they get it. Even if you flirt with a little insanity from the broken record effects of repeating the same phrase over and over and over ... and over and over again.
This gentle reminder of self-control is coupled with a few encouraging words to please allow Mommy to boss that other little person. In severe cases of bossy pants-itis, I have also been known to send the bossy one off to do a job from The Great Learning Box.
"It would appear that you have a lot of energy and time right now. Let's put that to some good use. It looks like you get to wipe down the bannisters. Thanks!"
Then I can address the recipient of the bossiness ...
"Why do you think So-and-so felt the need to boss you? Are you doing something that needs correcting? What can you do to be responsible for yourself?"
And then perhaps there is a little activity (read: chore) that they can do while they think about their own actions. Which results in some other part of my house getting clean as well! Bonus!
The hope, of course, is that each of these little people will be responsible for their own sweet little selves and eliminate the need for anyone else to boss them, er ... remind them of what is expected of them.
We all struggle with issues of self-control and a persistent desire to control those around us. And when I say "we" I, of course, mean "me".
But that's an entire post for another day!
"Grant that my children may learn responsibility,
for each one should care his own load."