A Mother, A Referee

I never wrote down “referee” or “police” as what I wanted to be when I grew up. Never. So how did I end up here? As a stay-at-home mom of two little girls (ages 4 and 2), I often find myself in these types of conversations.

As we get out of the minivan and into our house
Peanut: I want to open the door!
LittleBit: I want to open the door!
Me: Peanut may open the door, LittleBit may close the door (or vice versa).

Concerning their drinking cups
Peanut: I have a purple cup, LittleBit has a yellow cup.
LittleBit: No, I have an orange cup.
Peanut: No, you have a yellow cup.
LittleBit: NO! I have an orange cup.
Peanut: MOMMY!! LittleBit says she has an orange cup, but it’s a yellow cup.
Me: It’s orange. No more arguing about the color of the cup.

When Peanut is being bossy to LittleBit
Peanut: LittleBit, you need to drink your milk first, then you can have some orange juice. Say, “Yes, *Nene.” *Nene is what LittleBit calls Peanut.
Me: Peanut, you do not have the freedom to speak to her like you’re her mommy. I am her mommy.

When LittleBit is being bossy to Peanut
LittleBit: Sit down, NOW!
Peanut: MOMMY!! LittleBit is talking to me like she’s my mommy, but she’s not my mommy!
Me: Sigh (don’t even know what to say).

This was definitely not part of the beautiful sandcastle of motherhood I had built in my mind (before I actually became a mother). No, I do not enjoy being a referee. The preschool stage is filled with day-to-day instructions, list of do’s and don’ts, and discipline matters.  I sometimes find myself fast forwarding to the future, when I will have more of a trainer, a coach, a mentor, and eventually a friend role. I am a relational being to the core, and I have a good feeling I will enjoy those stages.

SMASH. That was the sound of me smashing the sandcastle down. I stop fast forwarding (daydreaming about the future) and remember that in order to get there, I must start here. I am not building a sandcastle that looks pretty on the outside but can easily be swept away. I am building a firm foundation that will last – brick by brick. I invest my time and energy into guiding them to develop a strong sense of morals and values. What can be more worthwhile than that?

For now, I do my best to deliver clear and concrete instructions. I follow through. I reinforce. I encourage. I referee. I explain. I illustrate. I discipline. I help them to gain a different perspective. I model with my actions and words. I pray. Then the next day, I repeat. Somewhere along this cycle, I reflect and realize that I am building a foundation, even if it’s little by little. As I stay consistent and as the girls gain more understanding, our trust grows. This trust will play a major role in the relational stages that I so look forward to.

I wrote down some examples of the progress we’re making.

Instead of snatching a toy out of another’s hand, this is what I’ve taught them to do
One Sister: May I borrow that after you’re done, please?
The Other: Yes, you may.

Instead of being frustrated or competitive when she can’t figure it out
LittleBit: Please help, Nene.
Peanut: OK, I will help you.

Instead of tattling
Peanut: Please get down, LittleBit. Remember, Mommy said not to stand on the couch.
LittleBit: OK.

They love to help each other.
They love to compliment each other.
They love to forgive each other.
They LOVE to laugh together.

They may seem like little steps, but I compliment the girls like crazy when I witness these words and actions being exchanged. To the best of my ability, I show them that the color of the cup is not important. Who gets to open the door is not important. How you treat each other with love and kindness – now, that’s important.

There is no doubt in my mind that they absolutely love and adore each other. They love to play together and sing silly, made-up songs together. They truly enjoy each other’s company. I see a beginning of a beautiful, lifelong friendship, and my prayer is that it will continue to grow. I know that I will keep doing my part to build on the foundation. For this, it’s worth being a referee, even if I don’t enjoy it.


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One Response to A Mother, A Referee

  1. Yup, so much for sandcastles! I think you are doing a great job with these girls, Maria. They don’t need you to be their friend, you are their Mother. That’s a great big deal, whether you are prepared or not. No one knows what to do that guarantees success when raising children, but the fact that you are focused on helping your children learn how to live with others and how to get along- how to deal with disagreements and disappointments… this will go a long way and you have started the foundation- strong and clear.
    Carry on! Obviously, you already know that things don’t always turn out the way we presume they will, sometimes it’s even better!

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