day twenty five _Libby_ via CompfightWe kept notes on many of our family meetings, especially those we had while on vacation or during special holidays. The first set of notes that follows are from when the boys were aged five, seven, and nine. Often on New Year’s Eve we would take turns making New Year’s resolutions for every family member, including ourselves. The following are resolutions that everyone made for me:

Bob: Share excitement of pregnancy every day for at least one hour. (I was pregnant with our youngest son at the time.)

Aaron: Don’t make us go outside for forty-five minutes. Let me go in my room and draw. Don’t let Danny, Matt, or Dad interrupt when I am talking.

Matt: Don’t make me just stay in the basement for five minutes. Don’t let others interrupt me.

Dan: Don’t make me eat Fig Newtons.

Me for myself: Try to enjoy being at home more and be more relaxed at home. Try not to be depressed when there is a lot of work to do, but just go ahead and do it.

By way of explanation, Bob was referring to my charge that he was not involved enough with my pregnancy. He wanted me to communicate more about my excitement so that he could understand it better. Aaron and Matt were talking about my habit of banishing them to the outdoors or the basement when I was at my wit’s end. Aaron’s suggestion of having him go to his room to draw was an excellent one, but not something I would have thought of by myself. Aaron and Matt both felt that I allowed others to interrupt them when they were talking. Again, it wasn’t something I was aware of. Danny’s reference to Fig Newtons came about because we were trying to help him with constipation. After his hilarious comment we found another way to deal with his problem. His statement was so direct and so funny that it got through to us. It also became a family saying when someone was trying to make another person do something he or she didn’t want to do.

Here are the resolutions for Aaron made at the same meeting:

Aaron for Aaron: Work hard so that I can get in a higher reading group. Try to not fight so much with Matthew. Try to get ready for school faster. Try to do good in new class at church. Try to do what Mom and Dad say more.

Dad for Aaron: Talk more about his feelings.

Mom for Aaron: Not be so competitive with Matt and not pick on him.

Matt for Aaron: Don’t tease me so much and don’t do gross things to me.

The following are notes from four years later, including the brothers’ resolutions for one another. The boys were four, nine, eleven, and thirteen.

Matt for Aaron: When I don’t want to do something, don’t try to force me. Don’t call me a “party pooper” or beat me up.

Aaron for Matt: Be tougher. Do more stuff with me. Don’t get hurt all the time and junk.

Danny for Aaron: Don’t tease me all the time. Treat me more like I am mature.

Aaron for Danny: Be more mature. Don’t be so silly. Don’t cry at little things.

David for the whole family (translated by Mom): Don’t laugh at him when he doesn’t want us to. Be more respectful to him.

Boys for Mom: Let us make more of our own decisions. Don’t worry about us so much.

Boys for Dad: Don’t lecture us. Don’t expect too much of us and don’t get mad when we’re learning.

The issues were typical for any group of siblings. They fight with one another. They tease too much. The younger ones want to be treated with respect. The older ones think the little ones are immature. Mom is too intrusive. Dad expects too much. The important thing was that we were providing a setting in which we could give and receive feedback, take in the information, and make corrections. We were not in the midst of a battle during which no one could really listen productively. The brothers truly wanted to be respected by one another. They were an important peer group, and they really didn’t want to hurt each other. The opinions that they each held of the others were vitally important. We were balancing the see-saw, using the best tools that we had at our disposal.