Kids lobby for attention in more ways than one. From turning somersaults and cartwheels, doing silly dances to their favorite songs, to drawing colorful pictures, or making silly faces, they are all tactics to get approval. When there are more than two kids lobbying for attention at the same time, it can turn into a ‘tug-of-war’ battle. For the work-all-day dad, it hits him like a bomb the minute he walks through the door. The things that kids do to gain Dad’s attention can be memorable, and often, entertaining.
Having seven different personalities to pay attention to can be an equation that would challenge a good mathematician. It starts with my four girls. The thirteen year old, being the oldest of the bunch, changed the role of being ‘big-sister’ to “I’m the boss of you, so shut up!” That proves to be aggravating to the six younger kids, starting with the ten year old, who try to match wits with the teenager. When the conflict between the two arises, the ‘tug-of-war’ begins. Fighting over the home computer is the biggest conflict between the two. Determining who is wrong and who is right happens when I talk to them. “Share the computer, or else!” Usually, my solution is temporary, but it works for a little while.
The next chapter begins.
The two youngest girls spend most of their time in each other’s company. Though there is little quarreling between the two, as compared to the older girls, the competition between one another is imminent. It begins subtly… a peaceful yet raging war over who colors the best pictures, or who sings their favorite Katie Perry song the best; a song that they both favorite. “Daddy, don’t I sing the best?” the nine-year old would ask. “No, Daddy,” the six-year old would cut in with a high-octave voice, “I sing the best. Don’t I?” I could answer them both with sarcasm and ask them a question like this, “Why don’t you two find something better to do?” But, that would be hurtful to them. Instead, a more subtle solution is usually what works. “Why don’t you make a routine of the song and perform it together? I think you’re both talented singers.” Again, my solution is temporary, but it works for a little while.
How about the boys?
The boys, eight-year-old twins, and a two-year-old, play an altogether different role. The twins find amusement in aggravating the girls. The toddler gets into mischief by himself. The boys’ tactics to gain my attention are not as harshly sought. I find myself rescuing the girls from the boys’ repeated attempts to aggravate them. So, what is it that I do? I put my sneakers and jacket on… do the same for the toddler… call the twins away from where the girls are, and simply say, “C’mon, fellas. Let’s go outside and play some football.” It works every time. But, guess what? My solution is temporary, but it works for a little while.