27: The End of Sibling Squabbling

27: The End of Sibling Squabbling

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide

The End of Sibling Squabbling

Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring — quite often the hard way.

~Pamela Dugdale

It seemed like there were shouting matches every evening. My children were always fighting over their chores and their privileges. They never agreed on who had last washed the dishes, or who had last picked the TV program. I was tired of constantly keeping score and refereeing.

One day, I mulled over what my life was like a decade earlier — before marriage and little ones. In my reverie I stumbled on it — the simple, obvious solution. I recalled my high school days when the terms “O” day and “E” day meant something. My class schedule alternated between “O” days (odd days) and “E” days (even days). On O days I might attend Phys. Ed. And on E days I’d go to another elective class, such as First Aid or Art.

So I explained our new system to my second- and fourth-graders. “Jolee, you were born first,” I said. “Is one an odd number or an even one?”

“It’s odd, Mom.”

“And Al, you arrived second. Is two odd or even?”

“Two’s an even number, Mom.”

“Okay, so Jolee, from now on, every odd day is automatically your own special day. That means you get to pick what to watch, or where to sit, or which board game to play. Al, the same applies to you on even days.”

He thought about it a minute, then said, “But there are more odd days than even ones in some months. Jolee will get ‘her day’ two times in a row when a month ends in 31, and the next one begins with a one.”

“True,” I said, “but that also means she’ll be taking the smelly, disgusting trash out, scrubbing the dishes, and doing other less-enjoyable things two days in a row, and you won’t. It’s part of life’s give-and-take.”

For the first few days after that, whenever one kid shouted, “Mom!” I’d just call out, “Whose day is it?” That settled it. Soon, the bickering ceased.

Ah, the sheer joy of peace and quiet!

~Florence C. Blake

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