One evening, not too long ago, I ran out to get food. I also decided to get some dish soap for the bathroom soap dispenser. Some idiot had loosened the dish soap lid to almost off. When I put in in the van, it tipped over and spilled all over me, the carpet, and the sliding door mechanism.
It took me half an hour to get it cleaned up as best I could with towels. I had bought an extra big bottle, of course. This turned my ten minute errand into a much longer event. When I got home, #1 asked to speak to me.
Apparently, while I was gone, the following happened. (I had left them with simple instructions - please dismantle #1's bed and take it downstairs to his room, which is now repaired again.) And this happened:
1. They were taking apart #1's bed, so #1 asked #3 to go look for a tool.
2. Girlie was in the hallway and decided to block the hall so #3 could not get through.
3. So #3 kicked Girlie in the stomach.
4. Girlie ran to the bathroom and was gagging over the sink. (It remains a question if she was really sick or exaggerating.)
5. #1 was holding the bed and couldn't get free right away, so asked #2 to check on Girlie.
6. #2 looked at Girlie, but then decided he would chase after #3 instead.
7. #2 ran outside to confront #3.
8. #3 ran screeching around the house and jumped the wall.
9. #2 hotly pursued #3.
10. #1 called #3 to come in and stop screeching.
11. #3 came in, but then #1 sent him out to go get the tool - the original mission.
12. #2 meanwhile decided to hide up above where the tools are kept in the storage area.
13. #2 jumped out at and/or yelled at #3 when he came in the storage room.
14. #3 took off screeching and running again.
15. #2 pursued #3. Lap number two around the house.
16. #1 got them inside again and asked them all to come up to his room and work on the bed.
17. #2 got angry about something, so took a bolt and either did or did not scratch #1's radio. (The truth was unable to be discerned.)
18. #3 tattled to #1 that #2 scratched his radio.
19. #2 yelled at #1 that he did NOT scratch the radio.
20. #1 attempted to find out the truth by asking different people, but by this time he was pretty ticked off.
21. Girlie kept back-talking to #1 and didn't let him talk to #2 and #3.
22. #1 clamped his hand over Girlie's mouth to get her to be quiet so he could talk to #2 and #3 and find out about the radio.
23. Girlie fought and howled.
24. Somehow, #1 set her free and sent Girlie and #3 downstairs to sit on the couch.
25. #1 and #2 then took apart the bed, carried it down to his room, and put the tools away.
Then I came home. It took over half an hour of piecing together accounts and wading through such lies as "I only ran after him to make sure he was ok and was not going to run in the street and get killed." to figure out the gist of the story.
I told them all I was highly disappointed with them (not #1). I told them that every single one of them had a chance to stop the whole event with their actions, and they didn't.
Girlie could have let #3 walk down the hall.
#3 could have asked #1 to ask Girlie to move.
#2 could have checked on Girlie and stayed with her to comfort her.
But each chose to make a stupid decision which led to conflict. Poor #1 was stuck trying to sort out the mess, and he did not do it perfectly. (They all wanted me to punish #1 for clamping his hand over Girlie's mouth and for grabbing #2 once to pull him off #3.) I told them that #1 is only 14 years old, and is not a parent, so the fact that he made some mistakes in parenting in a difficult situation does not surprise me, and I will not judge him for it or punish him. Later privately, I did point out to him where he could have made a different choice. I reminded all three that none of them tried to help #1, and actually few of them obeyed him at all. He made really good decisions at first, but they did not follow them.
I told them that especially in a crisis, there needs to be a clear single leader who people follow. #1 took that role, but then #2 decided to take things into his own hands.
I told #3 that he used his God-given strength in a wrong way to hurt a girl he was supposed to defend. I told #2 that he used his God-given desire to defend women in a wrong way without wisdom.
So I showed them what I had bought for a nice evening relaxing and having treats and told them I was sorry we could not have it, sent them to shower, fed them supper, and sent them to bed.
First I made them all apologize, starting with Girlie as she had initiated the conflict. Then I disciplined #3, and told him that he is not allowed under any circumstance to kick or hit a girl. That men are far stronger in force than women (we just had earlier to ask the neighbor to help me lift something since I couldn't) and they must learn to control the desire to use that force to hurt. If he hits or kicks Girlie, I will discipline him every single time. I told him he always talks all the time, and now, in the once instance when he should have used his mouth, he didn't.
Then #1 and I set up the new bed. While we were working, he apologized for the way the evening went, but I told him that I have no expectations that he will be perfect at parenting now, and that he did pretty well. He can't control their choices, but in the future to use a "Girlie, go to your room right now" instead of being physical with her.
So that was my evening.... :( And people think missionaries are perfect and their kids should always be well-behaved... sigh...