Littlest Sprout proudly walked up to me yesterday saying, “Mom, Big Sprout slapped Middle Sprout on the bus.”
“WHAT?!?” I stopped passing the soccer ball with Big Sprout. “You hit her on the bus?”
“Yeah, like five times,” Middle Sprout reported from behind me.
I spun, “WHAT?” turning back, “What does she mean you slapped her five times on the bus? Why?”
“She hit me first! And then she grabbed my face with her fingers and squeezed.” A frustrated move that I too have witnessed.
“Hold on a second…both of you inside, NOW! We have to settle this!” I authoritatively demanded.
I took all three sprouts in and sat them on the couch.
Littlest Sprout delightedly asked, “Me too!”
“If you want to, but you don’t have to, you’re not in trouble.” I explained.
They never confessed the motivation behind the cat fight, but I could only picture them sitting on the bus waving their hands at each other occasionally landing slap blows.
“Didn’t the bus driver stop you?” I asked concerned.
“She couldn’t see us,” Middle Sprout reported.
My internal picture of this scene almost made me laugh out loud. I know it wasn’t a knock-down-drag-out fight, and I can only imagine what it might have looked like to a driver passing by who caught a glimpse of Frank Fighting 2010. A couple hesitant arms flailing at each other with only the tops of very young heads barely visible.
“Did any one see you?”
They admitted that one of Big Sprout’s friends was the only witness.
Just then, the phone rang, and the kids thought they had been saved by the bell.
It was their father, and they each spoke to him, not about the incident, but about the other news of the day. Big Sprout answered the phone, so while he was talking to his dad, I asked Little Sprout what she thought a fair punishment would be for Big Sprout.
“He should lose his iPod,” she offered.
As he spoke to Middle Sprout I asked Big Sprout what he thought a fair punishment would be, and he thought grounding from electronics for two days would be fair.
The phone was eventually passed to me, and as I reported the ongoing trial, Middle Sprout dove in under a blanket and Big Sprout did not move.
“Big Sprout thinks they should be grounded for two days,” I explained.
“Two days?” he chuckled, “I was thinking one. Siblings fight, and it couldn’t have been that bad,” he assessed.
“I agree,” I said, shifting to code-talking mode, “but they know the severity, and this is a self-reported crime. I’m going to defer to their self-punishment.”
“True,” he agreed. “They represent this family, and they can’t be cat-fighting…at least not in public.”
So, I went from having absolutely no inkling that anything bad had happened, and in less than ten minutes both big sprouts were grounded from electronics for two days. I didn’t have to deal with the actual fight, they each took responsibility for their involvement in the altercation, and they accepted the punishment willingly. Maybe parenting is actually happening in this house!