Stop hitting your brother. I don’t care if he started it. You shouldn’t… Hey, he shouldn’t hit you, but that doesn’t mean you can hit him. The same rules apply for both of you, OK? Yes, I know he can be a pain in the ass. Yes, yes. Sit down. Sit down. Sit down! Listen to me. No, he didn’t take your cookie, you ate it yourself. You did, I saw you. Hey, no hitting, I told you. And that includes no kicking! No, you’re not playing, I don’t care if he’s laughing. OK, you’re playing, but only if you both agree, OK? If one of you starts to cry… Now you’re crying for no reason. No, he didn’t hit you. He didn’t kick you either. It didn’t hurt. And he didn’t take your cookie. You ate it yourself. You can’t just cry and think that you’ll get everything you want. Stop hitting him! And you stop hitting him! Sit down! Look, if you won’t listen to me, then I can’t listen to you. If you won’t do what I tell you, I can’t do what you want me to either. See? Yes, I know I promised to let you see TV at six o’clock, and it’s six now, but… Stop teasing him! yes, you were, I saw you. I’ve got eyes in the back of my neck. OK, I don’t, but you know what I mean. No, it’s not a lie, it’s a metaphor. Hey, come back here, finish your dinner! Don’t jump off the couch with a carrot in your mouth, I’ve told you a million times. No, that’s not a lie either. Look, you just have two spoonfuls of soup left. What do you mean you don’t like it, you’ve eaten two portions already! Would you please stop playing the drums on your plate? It makes so much noise. It does. It does to me. I don’t care if it doesn’t to you, it does to me! Stop! No, it’s not music, it’s noise. Daddy’s music is music. Your uncle’s music is noise. No, you can’t play your uncle’s music on you plate. The plate will break. Yes, it will. No, you can’t try. No, I can’t be sure of that, but I know it might, and… Yes, it might not, but it might, which means you shouldn’t do it, which means you should listen to me. Because I’m your father. Because I decide. Just because. Yes, I know I’ve told you that “just because” isn’t a proper answer, but now it is! Because it is! Sit down and eat the rest of your soup. Yes, yes, yes, I know I promised, but I presupposed that you had finished your dinner by six o’ clock. No, you haven’t finished, look, two spoonfuls! OK, OK, OK, three spoonfuls. No, that wasn’t a lie, I just miscalculated. I didn’t realise that there was so much soup left. Stop hitting your plate! Your tummy hurts? You’ve eaten too much? It’s my fault? Two spoonfuls… three spoonfuls won’t make your tummy hurt. Unless it’s three spoonfuls of candy. I just know. No, fathers know stuff like that. My father, too. Yes, I know he gives you candy all the time, but he’s a grandfather, he’s allowed. For the last time, stop hitting your brother! It doesn’t matter that there soon will be three children, we don’t have democracy in our family. We have Enlightened absolutism. Yes, mummy decides too, she’s the queen. No, my grandfather doesn’t make decisions for me. Because I’m grown up. When you’re eighteen. When you stop hitting your brother. I saw you. Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Hey, sit down, we haven’t finished our dinner! Yes, I know you have, but… Why? Because I say so! That’s just the way it is!
When I was young, I promised myself to never ever use those words. “Because I said so.” “That’s just the way it is”. Whenever I catch myself using those words, I stop my line of reasoning and take a deep breath. I will not be that kind of person.
And so, the children got to see TV without finishing their soup. The continued hitting each other, since I didn’t have a good answer to why they shouldn’t when they both wanted to. And they learned that if they nag me long enough, they will get everything they want.
Optimism and patience: they will turn out alright in the end. Like I did.