It’s so simple in theory: if each and every one of us would be kind both to ourselves and to others, be humble in our actions and try to at least acknowledge a point of view that is different from our own there would be peace in the world.
I believe this with all my heart and every day I wake up with the idea that ‘I will be where it starts; it will begin with me, this thing called peace.’
But then my family wakes up and the peace plan goes all to hell when just one of them speaks, causing a chain reaction of more speaking and in four seconds an argument. Pretty much from then on all that comes out of my own mouth are things like: “stop it”, “knock it off”, “quit it”, “go to your rooms” and when I have finally had enough the taboo phrase “everybody just shut the hell up!”
It is mystifying what my children will argue about. Even more so that I too end up involved with debates like “would you rather change gender every time you sneeze or not be able to tell a muffin from a baby”.
I didn’t make that up.
Really. Ask them. They spent over an hour arguing about this one. Loudly.
Actually wait! DON’T ask them! It will just bring the noise level up as they rehash things. I haven’t bought muffins for months because of that one. Mainly so they will quit asking me to have another baby so we can determine just how similar they already are to muffins, that it could be an easy mistake.
My sister and I were both raised to be quiet, non-confrontational, respectful girls which meant we had to agree with everything our parents said or risk “the glare” from dad which would silence us immediately or worse yet, having to duck to save ourselves from the impact of whatever object mom happened to have in her hand. Once it was a frying pan. I don’t have a clear memory of what I said to her (I may have been slightly concussed because I did not duck in time) but I was old enough to know better so it was probably something surly. It was just how things worked back then.
Needless to say, I grew up in a very quiet household. The loudest fights we had involved occasional door slamming (until my mom took my door off the hinges) and the silent treatment.
Sometimes I think it would be nice if my children used silence as a weapon of war every so often. For something different. Instead of arguing, yelling, hitting and doing gross things to each other.
Just this morning, Grant told me David hocked a loogie (I don’t even know how to spell that word) on the hardwood floor of Daniel’s newly cleaned room and then quietly walked away with a satisfied smirk because Daniel had slapped David in the face for doing something that has yet to actually be clarified. Grant declared it justified since hitting is generally not condoned. He thought quietly to himself that it was a very ingenious little brother way to get back at Daniel the neat freak. But he made David clean up the green glob because that’s just gross. And also generally not condoned. But giggled at much more than hitting.
This kind of stuff goes on constantly. There is almost NEVER quiet and things are rarely peaceful. Not one of them has any problem speaking up or out to us or each other: telling, defending, complaining, declaring and dealing out punishments to each other. It’s almost like a mini-mafia.
The four younger kids held court at breakfast the other day. They all decided that because Dillin ate three times his allotted share of orange cinnamon rolls the day prior he would get ZERO the next time we made them. There was some name calling and trembling voices over the injustice. They carried out the sentencing the very next morning with self-righteous, icing smeared smiles. Dillin never noticed because they ate them all before he woke up. But justice was served regardless.
But here’s the thing. Right now as I type this, with my headphones on to block out the noise, I am watching the three little boys gathered around Duncan, who is having dinner here tonight. Their faces are filled with complete adoration. Maria is grinning big as she and Duncan loudly banter back and forth. Dillin is working but his girlfriend Maggie, who is laughing right now, is comfortable enough with us to stay for dinner (so it can’t be all THAT bad here). And I think to myself that despite the fact that I may never become completely accustomed to the noise level or the loogies or the occasional aggravated assault, at the end of the day there is rarely pent up anger or resentment floating in the air. There is never any doubt where we each stand or how we feel. We are a family who gets it all out on the table and then makes up, both equally as loud. And it clears the air so there is room for laughter and joy and complete and total love.
It turns out that love is not peaceful.