I sent my boys to the basement after dinner tonight to clean up their toys. After a few minutes, a beautiful sound drifted up the stairs to the kitchen where I was doing dishes.
The voices of two boys singing “We Shall Overcome” and their little brother chanting “some day! some day!” over and over again like a rapper that has no rhythm.
One of the things I have witnessed over the last few years is that if I punish my kids for beating each other up by making them sit on the stairs together, or if they must complete an odious task together, they grow closer. Their angry, competing three become a vast, loyal army against the dictatorship of evil Mom. They forget their transgressions against each other.
After a few minutes on the stairs together, or scooping dog poop together, or cleaning up the basement, the crying stops. The glaring at each other ceases. The “he’s the meanest brother ever” falls silent. No more “it’s not fair!”
The whispering commences, followed by giggling.
“Mom, we’re okay!”
Tonight, it was “We Shall Overcome” in off-key voices that only an evil mom dictator can appreciate.
Peace reigns, and the toys they picked up are unseen for now… absent-mindedly booby-trapped to explode on me when I open the playroom closet.