Neither Democracy nor Republic
“You need to be the one in charge, otherwise you’re just the tallest person in the room,” is a piece of advice I got very early on.
Funny as that line is, it’s true.
I’ve heard dozens, maybe hundreds of terms describing parenting.
“Dolphin” (for the life of me I have no idea what the hell this one means)
The list goes on and on and on and . . .
I found myself, at a certain point, informing my kids of a basic fact of their childhood after a particularly exasperating evening, however.
I have three kids still at home, you see. (One is in college, and I hear from her occasionally, but for our purposes today…we’ll go with three.) Twin boys who are 12 and their 16-year-old sister. They seem to take great delight in poking each other, either verbally or emotionally in order to see just how far things will go.
“You’ve been getting at me all day,” said the somewhat larger female figure in the home.
“Well…you always tell me I do things wrong,” said the much smaller male figure in the room.
“It’s true, you do,” said the other smaller male figure.
This led to verbal abuse the likes of which I would gladly recount except I cannot. At this point all three smaller creatures in the home began talking at once. Well, talking would fall short of the actual adjective. Projecting loudly might be kind. Arguing might be better. Shouting and screaming would be most apt. Eventually it turned into a white noise akin to the loud, 60-cycle “beeeeeeeeep” that comes when color bars appear on your TV screen.
At this point the couch pillows began flying across the room.
“Knock it off…” came my voice, now raised in hopes it rose above the din.
For about 1 1/2 seconds.
The next fifteen or twenty were a combination of sounds and flailing body parts that could have filled the 1960’s Batman.
Here’s where I lose it.
“If you don’t KNOCK IT OFF YOU’RE ALL GOING TO BED!”
Now . . . call it teenage hormones. Maybe it’s adrenaline. Or maybe it’s just talking before your brain tells you it’s a really bad idea to say anything . . . but the next words sealed it all.
“You can’t do that, it’s only 8 o’clock!”
Here’s the point where reality is driven home.
“You guys are under the mistaken impression that this is a democracy,” I informed the three smaller people in my home.
“This is no democracy. This is a dictatorship. There’s no electoral college here, boy-o, I’m freaking Stalin!”
Apparently this was said with enough vigor and raised eyebrows that the vision of a household cleansing like the Russian purge hit home.
The somewhat smaller female figure moved to her room and began playing guitar.
The smaller male figure showered. The other male figure opened a Michael Crichton book and began to read.
I then informed them that the kitchen needed cleaning. The television went off, my stereo went on.
Yet, as that dictator, you know when things need to be lighter and pleasant, too. So I put Sly and Family Stone on the turntable.
As “Dance to the Music” hit the needle I started helping with the dishes and suddenly . . . without urging or prodding . . . the small male figures and the tallest person in the home began to do just that. In a dancing assembly line we put dishes in the cupboard while singing and gyrating…badly. We talked homework, problems and successes at school , and then sang with Sly and finished.
Prayers were said. Covers were tucked in. Hugs were had. Friendliness reigned.
As I was logging off my computer a mass of hair from my daughters head hit my shoulder and she kissed my cheek saying good night.
Thus . . . the coup de tat was avoided for one more day.
Though I think I need new couch pillows now.