Part-Time Referee

I've never been much of an athlete or sports fan, but I'm finding that as a full-time mom to boys, my job description includes "part-time referee." The games are many and varied, ranging from the expected sword fights, splash wars, and wrestling matches to imaginative games of David and Goliath, Lion and Lion Tamer, and Moses in the Basket, to downright bizarre games like Eat Your Brother, Bite the Baby, and Pee on Each Other (the latter in the bathtub, thankfully). As referee, it is my task to define fair play and enforce it. I make it pretty simple. Regardless of the game, there are only two rules: 1) be kind, and 2) don't hurt your brother. I suppose I could add: 3) don't hurl dense objects, 4) don't use the pictures on the wall for target practice, and 5) don't pretend that the bookshelves are Annapurna and you are mountaineers, but that's pretty complicated for a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, don't you think?

I loathe yelling and make it a goal not to shout at my children, but often they make so much noise that they can't hear me unless I raise my voice at least nineteen times above its normal level. To avoid sharing my motherly admonitions with the rest of the apartment block, sometimes I'll wade into the fray to get the boys' attention without shouting. However, this strategy isn't practical when I'm cooking something whose recipe includes the words "stir constantly," or when I'm nursing the baby, or (and this is my favorite) when I'm holding the baby over the toilet because he needs to go poop! So in those instances I have two choices. I can temporarily abandon my referee responsibilities (which usually means abandoning my second child to the mercy of his older brother), or I can yell at the boys until they realize that Mommy is saying something and they'd better stop to listen. **sigh** I feel like I've been doing too much yelling lately.

The other day it occurred to me that a referee's whistle might come in handy.

I think I'll ask for one for Mother's Day.

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What about you? What are you hoping for (or planning to give) on Mother's Day?


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