Friday, 29 August 2014

Our safe word is Pineapple

Our safe word is Pineapple
29 August 2014

Siblings bicker. 

It’s part and parcel of the parenting landscape when you’re raising a family.

They bicker because not only do they annoy each other, but they know exactly which buttons to push to annoy each other the most.  It’s a talent.  As a kid and a sibling.  Something you pride yourself on.  To have that inherent knowledge of knowing exactly what to say to trigger your brother or sister.  Hopefully both at the same glorious time.

However as a parent, it’s not a talent.

It’s a challenge.  And an annoying one at that.

Now I’m sure this happens in most families.  And that us, the parents, are victims.

My kids in particular, spend an inordinate amount of time, parenting one another.  Oh joy!

Clearly I’m not doing a good enough job myself.  And they feel inclined to step up to the plate and not only correct one another, but reprimand too.

I know – oh joy!

A few years ago, one of the most often heard refrains in our home was, “Stop it!”.

Followed by, “Enough!”.

Which inevitably lead to, “I’m telling Mommy!”.

Which was usually counteracted by, “I’m telling Daddy!”.

It was so boring.  And it literally drove me up the wall.  I even found myself saying to them, “Stop it!  It’s enough!  I’m telling Daddy!”.

Yip, I run a tight ship.

Anyway, everyone was continually saying “Stop it!”.

So much so, that the word lost all value.  It was overused.  Abused.  Carried no meaning.  And held no weight.

Everyone just simply ignored it.  Across the board.  In fact, it seemed to encourage them.  Leading to more raised tempers, louder voices, increases in irritability, and even more “Stop it’s!”.

I needed a plan, and fast. 

We called a family meeting.  And I explained to the kids, that we had reached a point of no return.  “Stop it”, had to stop.  Enough already (sorry – had to throw it in there).

The problem was that people were using the word too randomly.  We needed a word that was new.  That really meant stop it.  A word that made everyone freeze in place.  A word that signalled that someone had reached their breaking point.  That immediate inaction was called for.  It had to be a word that glued their feet to the floor, kept them in place, and their mouths shut.  It was a halt.

And for some or other weird and wonderful reason, I chose “Pineapple”.  Go figure.

It was a word we didn’t use very often.  Except in summer salads.  And fruit salads too.

It was silly.  Would diffuse the situation.  Make everyone freeze, and give all of us that moment to just be quiet and listen.

It was supposed to be special.  And effective.

And to be fair, it worked for quite a while.  Actually, it worked like a bomb.  It made them stop fighting in the car.  Over who’s turn it was to shower first.  Who would have to open the gate.  Who had to pour water with our supper.

It wasn’t rude.  We could use it anywhere.  And it certainly had the desired effect.

Until one fine day, when I looked at my family in a moment of reflection and pondered about the verbal “Pineapples!” being flung around by all.

And realised the sad truth – it had replaced, “Stop it!”.

With time “Pineapple” faded.  And “Stop it!” returned.  Yet the sting felt gone.  Or I became numb.

Years later, every so often one of them shouts, “Pineapple” in a moment of extreme sibling duress, strife and stress.

And it still makes me smile. 

These are the silly little memories, I’ll hold dear one day.  When they’re all big and gone.

And with a wee bit of luck, they’ll remember it too.  And reminisce to their kids, about their childhood.  And their funny Mom. 

Or perhaps given time, and the experience of parenthood, they’ll completely understand.  And harness the Pineapple-Power too.

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  1. Happy thoughts, happy thoughts!!

  2. Your kids are such lucky fishes to have the parents they have! All good eggs - the Cloete 5!! And you ALL going to make GREAT grown ups one day!!