Sibling rivalry is one thing, but when it comes to blows, I have a zero tolerance policy in my home. If one child hits, kicks, bites, or explodes their latest Lego spacecraft above his brother’s head, he gets an instant time out, no questions asked. Predictably, after jail time has been served, I go to release the offender and hear all kinds of “it was HIS fault” arguments -- “He looked at me funny” “He called me a Snooter” “He was born in July.” I’ve tried to explain to them that there is simply no excuse for violence, ever. But gradually, my mini-lecture has been reduced to a simple, familiar exchange (and not only do they know the routine, they know that any hint of eye-rolling will result in a revoking of their parole).
Me: When is it okay to hit your brother?
Penitent child: Never.
Me: That’s right. Now go your way and sin no more.
See how simple that is? And oh so effective because after one time, they never ever fight with their brothers again. *Ahem.*
Anyway, Gabie, (as Gabies are wont to do) felt inclined to rewrite the script. He got in a tussle with McKay and kicked him. After his time-out, I commenced the rehearsed dialogue:
Me: When it is okay to kick your brother?
Me: That’s right.
Gabie: Unless you’re Satan.
Oh dear. I’m sure he meant it in the “just pointing out the loop-hole in your theory” way rather than the “considering joining forces with Beelzebub” way. Still, I had to pause for a moment to pick my jaw off the floor. Where in the world does he get this stuff? And how should I respond? Do I laugh? Do I feign dismay? Do I put him back in time-out while I think about it?
In the end, I said, “Yes, I suppose you’re right.” And then he ran off to listen to a tape in his room – one of the collections of Bible stories he listens to over and over and over.