Just this morning before school I walked into the living room to find Richard, standing on the sofa with Lyall in a headlock, whacking the top of his head with a flip flop. Lyall, producing a very loud "WAAAAAA" sound, was frantically kicking his legs backwards like a panicked donkey, trying to kick Richard off. Richard was laughing like a crazed loony.
I've probably mentioned too many times by now that Lyall and Richard like to squabble and fight. It's relentless. I know I know, they're just brothers and it's totally normal, but I must say it's extraordinarily difficult to deal with.
With the flip-flop head lock incident this morning, my instinct was to intervene and dish out some quiet alone time punishment. But instead, I retreated to the kitchen, closed the door and put the loud coffee machine on to drown out the "WAAAAs".
As an adoptive parent, one thing I noticed quite early on was how I am pretty terrible at being angry. Besides the odd little disagreement with Tom I can't actually really remember ever being particularly angry with anybody before the boys moved in.
However, since the boys' arrival I can't remember a single day where I wasn't angry for at least 25% of the time that I'm with them (with the other 75% loving every minute, I might add.. phew!).
The naughty step and naughty corner are less effective than they used to be now that the boys are older, and they enjoy being in their bedrooms so that's a rubbish punishment too. With an absence of decent punishments, if I'm not careful I find myself falling into a constant angry lull, poised for intervention like a miserable boxing referee.
To break the cycle, an excellent parenting expert (my friend Penny) advised that I take a back seat for a couple of weeks; to try as hard as possible to let the boys get on with their fights and squabbles. I mean, they're going to fight anyway so what's the point in me adding my stress and anxiety into the equation?
And I must say that it has worked nicely. My blood pressure's down, I'm far more relaxed and I've even found myself giggling at them while they scrap which seems to dissipate the situation without any angry intervention.
Additionally, my new positive, relaxed demeanour seems to have cascaded down to the boys too and I've noticed that they also seem generally happier. Bonus!