My boys, ages 13 & 11, have been driving each other crazy lately. They can be mean. So I decided to try something new with them. I bought some deck furniture that came in “Ikea-like” pieces. I said, “Ok, you guys, let’s play a game. I have two chairs that need assembling and the challenge is for you to finish them at exactly the same time without arguing. I will pay you a quarter everytime I catch you saying or doing something nice to each other and we will spend your winnings at DQ. And I’m going to film the whole thing.”
They were up for the challenge alright. First they had to get the pieces out of the packaging. Chad started, “Matt, can you help me? You are so much stronger than I am.” He replied, “Sure Chad, I’d love to help you little buddy. And, by the way, you are a really good soccer player. I bet you will be a pro someday.” Chad laughed, “Gee, thanks Matt, you are the best big brother ever.”
And so it went. The job took nearly an hour and about half way through they broke the bank at $20.00 but still they continued with the compliments and the amazing cooperation. They clearly loved the game. On the way to DQ, I asked them how they felt about the whole thing. I said, “Do you think that went faster because you were cooperating?” Chad said, “Oh yeah Mom, we probably would have ripped up the instructions pretty early on otherwise.” Matt added, “I liked it. It was fun and it felt good.” Then Chad said, “Hey Matt, maybe I’ll be nice to you tomorrow for free.”
We all laughed but my boys learned something about kindness…so did I.