You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time. ~ Abraham Lincoln
A couple of summers ago, I went to home to Oklahoma to visit my parents and, while there, I spent a great deal of time with one of my oldest friends and her children. Holly and I grew up together. We’ve known each other for almost thirty years and she’s one of the best friends I’ve ever had.
One of the best things about really good old friends is that you don’t have to explain yourselves to each other. Your parenting styles can be exactly the same or vastly different, but it doesn’t matter because you know each other so well that you accept the differences for what they are, and you just move on.
Another great thing about old friends is “team parenting.” My son, Braden, is about six months older than Holly’s older daughter, Madigan. As a result, we have an agreement that she and I work as a team when the two children are together. If both children are misbehaving, then whichever of us catches it first is the one to reprimand both children. We’ve agreed that it would be unfair to reprimand only one child when both children are at fault.
This arrangement works out very well for us, and it works especially well because Madigan and Braden are enough alike that they spend a great deal of time fighting about which one of them is smarter or better or stronger or taller or … whatever!
On the second day of my visit – and about ten arguments into the day – we were in the van on our way to lunch after a day at the zoo. Five-year olds Madigan and Braden were in the back seat in matching boosters, Amber (then 14) and Holly’s younger daughter, Reagan (then 2) were in the middle row, and Holly was driving. I was riding shotgun and doing my best to “nicely” tell Braden and Madigan to get along and quit fighting. We’d been driving along and had just congratulated ourselves on having 15 minutes argument-free when both Madigan and Braden both started bawling…and not quietly, I might add!
“What’s wrong now?” I asked.
“I don’t know!” Braden cried in a somewhat irritated, yet panicked, voice. “She just stared crying and now she says she isn’t my friend!”
“Uh uh!” sobbed Madigan. “Braden said he was a real Jedi Knight!”
“I am a real Jedi Knight!” yelled Braden.
“No you’re not! You’re going to dress up like one for Halloween!” wailed Madigan. “And I told him I was going to dress up as a Jedi Knight for Halloween and he told me I can’t cuz I’m a girl!”
“Ummm…yeahhhh! You’re a girl!” taunted Braden. “Girls can’t be Jedi Knights! People will laugh at you!”
Well, this just set Madigan off even more and the sobs between the two of them began to reach a fevered pitch. Suddenly the van cut across three lanes of traffic and came to a screeching halt on the side of the highway. At supersonic speed, Holly threw the van into park, ripped off her seatbelt and swung around in her seat to face the two in the rear seats.
“ENOUGH!” she shouted as her head spun around on her shoulders like Linda Blair. “Madigan and Braden! I have had enough of your bickering! No more! I’m done! I don’t want to hear another sound out of either of you! DO…YOU…UNDERSTAND??
Dead silence. Four sets of eyes as round and as wide as dinner plates…five if you count mine. Not a single peep from anyone.
“No! More! Talking!” demanded Holly.
More dead silence.
Very calmly as though we’d all been having a perfectly peaceful discussion, Holly turned to me and grinned the most angelic smile. “Phew!” she exclaimed. “Let’s kick this pig!” And she threw the car into drive and continued on our way as though nothing unpleasant had ever occurred.
About two miles down the road – and still driving along in complete silence – a tiny voice from the middle seat pipes up. “Mommy? Mommy?” said two-year old Reagan. “Mommy…I talking, Mommy! I talking!”
And that was the end of our silence. Little Miss Reagan wasn’t the least bit intimidated. To paraphrase Lincoln…You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time…but you can never fool a child.