I instituted a new rule in our household this past week.DIBBS.
I know, some of you might now be wondering what kind of household do I preside over, but bear with me a moment. I was driving home after picking up my daughters from school earlier in the week. And like sisters do, or maybe just siblings in general, they were bickering on the way home. It ranged in topics, but pretty much covered anything my youngest daughter thought would get a rise out of her older sibling. I tried to stay impartial. Let them work it out amongst themselves, and learn to solve these disagreements civilly. Honestly, I was just trying to block out the the din of squabbling and listen to Matt Kearney on the CD player.
However, I was inevitably drawn into the disagreement. “Dad! I said I had to use the bathroom, and she said she’s going to use it first!” My oldest intoned from the back seat. I looked in the review mirror to confirm this was not some ruse, some prank, or attempt at punking their father. Were they really fighting over who got to use the bathroom first when they got home? Yes. Yes, they were. And they were dragging me into it. Serves me right for only having a home with one bathroom.
“Well,” I said. “Who called DIBBS?” Stunned silence momentarily followed.
I have to admit, these moments of self satisfaction that I feel while parenting makes it all worth it for me. Okay, the girls themselves – just being themselves – makes it all worthwhile, but these moments really are the icing on the cake. I know I should reserve these moments of proud parenting for graduations, honor rolls, sporting championships, and other civic honors, but, no. These are the moments I feel proudest of my parenting skills. Honestly, I don’t know if any other parent is ever as proud of themselves during these moments as me. If so, I should start a group just so we can share these awesome moments.
Anyway, the moment quickly passed, and my oldest asked, “What’s “dibbs?””.
“Well,” I said, “DIBBS is what you call when you want to stake claim to something.” Again, rapt silence and attention. “So, if you want/need the bathroom first, you call dibbs on it. If the new American Girl catalog comes in the mail, you call DIBBS, so you can read it first. If there’s only one brownie left, you call DIBBS. Well, you actually share, but you call DIBBS first, so you can get the credit for sharing. Make sense?”
“I CALL DIBBS ON THE BATHROOM!” My oldest shouted from the backseat. “I call second DIBBS!” My youngest proclaimed.
And, since the DIBBS Proclamation has been passed in our house, a new sense of order and agreement has followed. Never in my wildest dreams would I have anticipated such cooperation and acceptance. All the time and effort trying to teach communication, sharing, and reasonable compromise, and a 30 second lesson on DIBBS brings balance to the Force. Who knew? Order 66 wasn’t even this effective.
It’s left me looking forward to the retirement of car seats and front passenger seat riding. Oh, I can hardly wait to introduce the Shotgun Decree.
Mark Freeman lives in Hyde Park.
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