The girls are total opposites. Miss G is quick and impulsive and bossy. Miss L is quiet and reserved and daydreamy. The one personality trait they share is pigheaded stubbornness. Now add to that the fact that they were both only children for the first 10 years of their lives.
I'm not complaining; I’m impressed. Even if they'd been born to the same parents and grown up together their entire lives, I expect there'd be a fair amount of friction. I think they get along amazingly well, considering. But I realized this week, these girls have to be taught to compromise. This is something I never thought about before, and have just taken for granted, growing up as the middle of three kids. Give and take is a way of life when there's more than one kid in the house. Problem is, these kids still haven't learned that.
Miss G decided she wanted to put on a play. In classic Miss G form, she wanted to write, direct, produce, and star in this play all within the very last 10 minutes just before bedtime. She was so excited at the idea, I didn't have the heart to give her a flat no. Instead, I told her it would have to be a quick play, performed within the next 15 minutes. She tore out of the room to go whip out a plot as quickly as possible. Minutes later, she was back.
"Miss L says she doesn't want to do the play!"
I am consoling Miss G, saying we'll do it without Miss L, I'll read the lines with you, it'll be okay. Dan says, confused, "Huh. Miss L told me she really wants do the play."
So we call Miss L in also. By this time, both girls are in tears.
Miss L says that yes, she really does want to do the play. Only, she's not done with her script, she wants to work on it more. She wants real costumes. She wants to set up a stage. I say those are all really good ideas, but we need to get to bed, it's a school night.
Then we had to discuss the idea of compromise. I could swear we've gone over the concept multiple times, but it's just not sinking in. I give examples. We could do Miss G's finished skit tonight, which would make her happy. And Miss L could work more on her play, and we could perform it later, which would make her happy too. We'll do two plays. Perhaps in the future, one girl could write, the other could direct or do costumes or sets. If each girl has her own sphere of influence, they won't be butting heads. I explained to Miss G that there are benefits to investing your time, that a more deliberate initial effort makes for a better end result. I explained to Miss L that when someone is really excited about something, it's hard for them to concentrate on the details, like having costumes. I said if they were going to work together, that Miss G would have to slow down a little, and Miss L would have to speed up a little. Dan encouraged them to actually communicate. He suggested that perhaps Miss L could have explained her reasons for not wanting to do the play, instead of just saying she didn't want to. Perhaps Miss G could have asked her about her reasons instead of getting immediately exasperated, or she could have explained to Miss L how much it would mean to her to do the play right away, perfect or not.
I keep expecting them work this stuff out on their own, which is such an oversight on my part. In my family, if more than one kid turned up in tears at a time, my dad's answer would have been something like "If everyone's crying, then it's time to move on to something else. Everybody go play in their own rooms for a while." Smart guy. Dad's from the no-nonsense school of parenting, the same school I also ascribe to. Thanks to Dad, we learned early to work stuff out ourselves.
I have to keep reminding myself, our girls have not grown up with this. It seems second nature to me, but is utterly alien to them. We have to train them. And next time keep a better eye on how much Halloween candy is getting eaten all at once. Sugared-up kids are not good with compromise.