The children have been great throughout the holiday. Sure, there have been moments of misbehavior and questionable attitude but, by and large, they have been really good. With a week to go before they return to school, I know that there is a capacity (and high likelihood) for change. In fact, I expect it to. Let's be real here.
Given that expected reality both Lynley and I have been working on the dynamics amongst the twerplets. One of our primary goals is to help Graham achieve some status amongst his meany sisters. It is true. He is abused by them. They are horrible to him and yet, in an effort to be included, he has put up with their ritual malevolence. He sucks up to them in an effort at inclusion which just further lowers his credibility amongst them. Just like with us, those girls look for chinks in the armor and then exploit them. Thankfully, we have almost 40 years of wisdom and history to aid us in foiling their evil plots. Graham, though, has little experience and even fewer successes.
To level the playing field Lynley and I thought it necessary to elevate his status artificially to protect him in the short term and then begin working with him to develop long term skills in protection from the dark arts.
It is simple really, we began with elevating his status. The trick was in doing so without making the temporary favoritism obvious. That would cause a backlash of resentment from the girls. We began by focusing on activities that encouraged participation with Graham both on our behalf and the girls. We did things that gave everyone an equal chance but that we knew Graham would either excel at or that the girls would choose not to participate in but later regret. Sure enough, Graham began helping me with manly chores. I made them as fun as possible. It is amazing how exciting crawling under the house can be for a five year old boy and even more surprising how quickly a 4 and an 8 year old girl can become jealous of the adventure and beg for inclusion. At this point, I gave the reigns to Graham and let him lead the girls. This had the ultimate effect of raising his status amongst the girls - without them knowing and without the resentment that would normally follow.
We tried several different activities like this. Some have worked flawlessly and others have been less effective. The problem is that Graham is still seeking their approval when it does not involve one of these little planned activities. That is ultimately our only problem with the system. Regardless, he is climbing in social status. Their are fewer times when he seeks their approval and the games that they play are more often fairly balanced. It isn't perfect and I know it never well be but we, the boys, are getting closer to a day not dominated by meany girls. (Well, he is anyway.)
I credit much of our overall behavior success during the holidays to these little activities. We will see if it continues to hold back the dam of twerpful debasement.
Purpose requires constant fiddling.