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Monday, July 17, 2006

An Elementary Encounter

If you've ever been on an executive retreat, they usually include some sort of cliche, borderline stupid team building exercise. Everything from falling into a person's arms behind you to develop trust to everyone standing on two boards and having to walk together in unison and move the boards with you as you walk.

On Saturday, when the fighting between my two boys got to be too much for me to handle, and the usual threatening to take something away tactic failed, I decided my boys could use a team building experience. As they sat on the floor yelling at each other, pushing and pulling, trying to get the orange crayon away from the other because both had to use orange at the same time and there was only one orange crayon I sprang my plan.

I separated them, then took the crayons and divided them up by color. I put all the shades of red, pink, etc into one pile and all the blues, then greens, yellows, etc into other piles. I split the piles up and gave each son their equal number of crayons. Then I picked a new page in the coloring book and told them to both color the same page at the same time and if they fought, they went to their rooms for a long time.

Seeing my threat was serious and probably wondering at what point I went off the deep end, they started coloring making an occasional complaint about wanting this part or that thing colored a shade that the other one had. They managed to communicate and get the picture colored. So, I told them to agree on another picture to color. Quicker than I'd ever seen them agree on anything, they picked out a little bunny rabbit to color. Next I told them to decide what color they were going to use. They agreed on grey. I told my oldest to grab the crayon, he did. I told my youngest to also grab the same crayon and together at the same time color the picture using the one crayon.

I only wish I had a camera to take a picture of the look on their faces. Finally they finished and both proudly showed me what they accomplished together. We went the rest of the day without much fighting at all. Instead of an Executive Encounter, maybe I'll start an Elementary Encounter.