The June Solution
Now, with both of them home for the summer, everywhere is battleground.
It usually starts because, like magnets, they crash into each other. Or, because, like tiger cubs, they swipe at each other with their paws, which leads to wrestling. Or, like monkeys, they swing from trees and land on each other. Aww, look at the cute tiger monkey magnets, wrestling in the aisles of Wal-mart! How adorable!
Seriously, I don’t need this drama when I’m trying to pick out face cream.
Usually when they fight, they — and I — get grounded from video games, computer and T.V. for the rest of the day. But I wanted to do something different this time. Something that would really sink in.
Grounding them for a longer time wasn’t an option because, frankly, I didn’t do anything, and did not want to be punished with bored kids who already didn’t get along.
So I told them I’d let them know their punishment by the end of the day.
In the meantime, we went to a lake with my friend. It had a sandy beach, so the boys were busy collecting seashells — or lakeshells, actually — and making balls of clay with the mucky stuff they found under the dock. They got along great, until the end of the day.
When I thought about what to do, I realized I’d already found the solution to my problem in an in-flight magazine. On the plane flying to Phoenix earlier this week, I read an article about the best T.V. doctor, best T.V. space commander, etc…and the best T.V. mom. Can you guess who it was? June Cleaver.
It said that when Wally and Beaver were fighting, which—rewind--when did that ever happen? Must have been the same episode that Ward ran off with Mrs. Haskell and June got hooked on pills.
But what she did was make them write letters of apology to each other.
On the way home from the lake, I told the boys I’d made up my mind.
“Don’t you want to think about it longer?” Johnny asked. “So you can make it really bad.”
Meaning, “Don’t you want to put this off until tomorrow, when you’re sure to forget about the whole thing?”
“No. When we get home, you need to write two-page letters of apology to each other. Richie, since you can’t write, you need to tell Johnny what you want to say, and he’ll write it for you.”
Richie smiled. “I want to say, ‘I’m sorry you have bad breath.’”
“No,” I said. “It’s not listing bad things about each other and saying you feel sorry for them. It’s saying you’re sorry for what you did.”
Back home, Johnny wrote, “Sorry I back flipped onto you.” He read it back, laughing to himself at the wonderful memory of that particular fight. Then he filled page two with “sorry” written in different sizes.
Richie drew two spiders. Then he wrote “E” and crossed it out, writing “AHE Vii. Svos svos,” instead.
Johnny read it back to Richie, and he laughed. When Johnny finished his letter, he drew a giant tick and wrote a story about it. Richie grabbed it and said, “I’ll just copy yours. He wrote, “The evil tick sucks blood.”
“That’s not my letter!” Johnny said. “It's a story about a giant evil tick!” Richie laughed.
Leave it to my boys to turn June’s idea into a complete joke. Oh, well, at least they were laughing together instead of fighting. I went to fold laundry.
When I came back, Johnny had finally helped Richie with his letter, which said, “I am sory I frode sand at you.”
Throwing sand was the last thing Johnny and Richie did to each other. If I’d pressed them to write about the Wal-mart wrestling match, they probably wouldn’t have even remembered it. So much for my June Cleaver strategy.
Then I turned over Richie’s second page (the one with the spiders.) It said, “I love you.”
They were probably laughing when they wrote it. Still, they haven’t fought today. So I think it helped them to say it, even if they were joking around about expressing it in a letter.