This article was originally published on Pebbles & Piggytails.
Bicker. I love the word bicker. Not that I love bickering, but I think it’s the perfect word to describe itself and its meaning. To BICKER means to argue about petty, trivial matters.
I’ve noticed that as my children grow, bickering has become more common. I think it’s because they’ve increased in their ability to argue. In case you need an example, below is one of our most recent Bickering Battle:
Picture my sweet household at Easter time, having a family memory of coloring Easter eggs together. The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. And little boiled eggs are being plopped into cups of colored vinegar water. Sweet Tween is in charge and helping prevent spills. Little Son is methodical and carefully plans his colors. Baby Girl is delighted with each egg as it turns a new color. Baby Girl scoops up an egg out of its water bath and squeals happily, “Ooooh! It’s BLUE!” Sweet Tween looks over, “Uh, I think that’s PURPLE.” “No, it’s BLUE,” Baby Girl calmly replies without even looking up (she’s used to this). Little Son now looks at the egg, “You know, it’s actually INDIGO.” (Whaaat? Who even knows that color?!) Baby Girl again, “It’s BLUE.”
Little Son, “No, that’s INDIGO!” Voices are now rising. Tension is strong. The fun is leaving our home.
Sweet Tween, “Whatever. Just let her think it’s BLUE.”
Baby Girl, “But IT IS BLUE!”
Little Son, “I’m just telling her what INDIGO is!”
Finally, I say with a sigh, “OK, stop the BICKERING! It can be whatever color each of you wants it to be, and it’s OK if someone has a different opinion … Blah blah blah and so on.” Even though I thought it was kinda funny, I often try to curb our bickering because I don’t want them to put someone else down in order to make themselves higher/smarter/cooler or whatever. I want them to recognize it, even in small situations.
They do stop bickering because they know if they don’t I’ll eventually put someone in time-out, give out chores, or take away privileges if it gets any worse.
Later when Easter was over and all the eggs had been eaten, I noticed one egg left in the fridge. It was the BLUE/PURPLE/INDIGO egg. No one wanted it. It was going rotten. How symbolic.
I thought about this afterward. Bickering is like that rotten egg. It seems small and insignificant. But if we let it continue and just leave it, pretty soon that small egg can stink up the whole house. Bickering may be a small thing, but it can stink up the whole household.
I’m glad my children are independent thinkers. I’m glad they feel inclined to express their firm opinions. But I also think they need to learn when to just LET IT GO and respect each other and their ideas. They do not always need to prove themselves to be right. I’m trying to teach this, but it’s an on-going battle.
How many times do we as adults let a rotten egg into our conversations with the people we love? How many times do we let our Bickering Battles get the best of us just so we can prove we are right? What would the result be if we let go of our pride and let respect for other people take over instead?
So maybe just for today, throw out the rotten egg, end the bickering, and move on.