For the past week, my husband has been at a job conference out of state, so for five days I was the sole ruler, the enforcer and the commander, over our four children. Before Joe left, we all sat down and had an agreement. The kids promised to try to limit their fights and outbreaks of disobedience to a minimum, and complete their homework and chores daily. In return, I promised to do my best not to make their lives more difficult than necessary. I promised to be although strict, but just and merciful.
Amazingly, I have not had to raise my voice once during the entire five days. Alex, our oldest, had to come home from school on a bus and manage himself for a couple of hours until I got home from work. He completed his homework every day, several times did the dishes, and did not argue with me once! I was ready to ask him - "Who are you and what have you done with my son?"
The girls also managed themselves fairly well - homework, schoolwork, no fights or yelling. The youngest, Vera, though, had a daily cry about missing daddy and trying to get out of going to school until he comes back. Every time I had to explain to her that, whether daddy is here or not, she still has to go to school, because I simply won't be home. I had to go to work.
Gustav, my 11-year-old, stayed consistent and true to himself. In addition to being grumpy and sullen, he also developed a cold, which made him look more miserable than usual. Well, the cold part was being taken care of by the cold medicine. So, generally he was himself - no changes.
This five -day experience has taught me some lessons. First, if you want your children to hear you and respond consciously to your questions, the TV has to be off at all times. TV turns children into zombies.
Second, giving children options is a good thing, but those options have to be clear, concise and precise. "Your choices are - either this or that. Pick and choose." No monologues about past experiences and world philosophy. It only gets them distracted. Besides, most of the time they have something to say, so I often had to explain my point. I made myself talk for no longer than five minutes at a time on these explanations.
Finally, it made me open to suggestions. Open, though, does not mean letting the children run with it and see what happens. Trial and error is not my approach, at least not at the moment. I had very limited time every day to get everything done, so I left the power to allow implementation of new things with myself.
Overall, I believe my matriarchal period was a success. Well, I suppose the next step from running the family is running the country :) But that I am planning to leave for later. For now, I have to get back to my stitching projects and actually complete some of them. My UFOs list is growing.