Thursday, July 28, 2011

In search of a cure for Tattle-itis

Published for Motherhood Matters on KSL.com - click HERE for the link

It’s that time of year when summer’s sheen has lost a good deal of its shine, camps and vacations are winding down and the beginning of school is looming ominously around the corner. Despite my best efforts to change up the routine, my kids inevitably start getting restless and extra grouchy.

It’s also around this time that I resort to drastic threats like shipping every last one of them to a remote village in a far away country. Let me explain.

Restless kids are the number one reason for the epidemic that sweeps through entire neighborhoods, rising to outrageous proportions in late summer. It leaves no kid untouched, every mom unhinged, and it shows no signs of waning.

It is called Tattle-itis.

Without taking the time to look it up, I’d guess that the search for a cure has remained constant throughout the last 23 centuries or so. But every time a mom thinks she has hit upon the perfect remedy, one of her kids discredits all her hard work by tearing around a corner to report how many times his sister touched him for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

A few weeks ago, I was utterly fatigued by the incessant tattling at my house. So I powered up my heat-addled brain and forced it to come up with a decent idea. Surprisingly, I actually thought of one.

I found an empty notebook, labeled it “Tattle Book,” and announced the rules.

“Anything I need to know about someone else must be written down. I will not — I repeat, will not — listen to tattling. But I will read whatever has been written in the book during dinner, at which time we can discuss consequences. The only exceptions are if someone is bleeding enough to require more than one Band-aid or if someone has stopped breathing.”

My kids zeroed in on the obvious loophole, “What if someone breaks a bone but doesn’t bleed?”

“OK. If someone needs to be transported to a medical facility, you can tell me.”

Patting myself on the back, I watched my kids darting to the notebook throughout the next few days, earnestly writing. There were a few occasions when kids approached me and started reporting, but a simple wave of my hand in the direction of the notebook was enough to jog their memories.

Am I genius or what?

A sampling of what I read at the dinner table the first few nights might answer that question. Names have been changed to protect both the innocent and guilty, and spelling has been standardized.

“Austin’s breathing.”

“Kaden called me tubby and kicked me in the arm.”

“Austin made a face.”

“Kaden beat me up but I was tough.”

“Austin called me a name.”

“Kaden backsassed me.”

“Austin ate junk food in his room.”

“Kaden thinks he’s cool or something.”

“Austin said I had a tiny little brain.”

OK, so I’m not a complete genius.

The Tattle Book cure has a few holes, the obvious one being that the kids don’t always take it seriously.

But on the sunny side, my kids’ creative juices and writing skills are being fired up and fine-tuned for the upcoming school year. Plus, on the rare occasion that a serious infraction is reported, we engage in serious discussion and find solutions together.

Best of all, we all laugh a lot more during dinner.

So even though my cure for Tattle-itis is far from perfect, I’m still giving it two enthusiastic thumbs up.

I’d love to hear other cures for this pesky problem.

2 comments:

  1. When my kids bicker and come tattling, we put them to work. It only takes a few jobs for the realize that it funner to be patient with each other than to come complaining.

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  2. I think this one is truly brilliant! We haven't gotten to this point, but I promise to remember this when they finally get old enough for it. I couldn't stop laughing at "Austin's breathing"! So many great memories of childhood flooded back with that one :) Thanks Susie. Keep up the good advice (we'll be in need in the years to come!)

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