When the children were little, we had a set of alphabet fridge magnets, as is mandated by law for all middle-class suburbanites with children. I never got rid of those magnets—at least, the ones that were left, as several disappeared over the years—until we moved to Georgia. I took them off the old fridge and just… tossed them in the trash. Why pay to move a partial alphabet when my kids had pretty much outgrown that sort of play, anyway?
Shortly after moving in to the house here, though, I came across a set of poetry magnets that I thought might be fun to have out on the fridge. I went ahead and put them up and spelled out a sentence and then waited to see what would happen.
What happened was flat-out literary warfare: One child would “write” something, then the other would come along and steal words for their own sentence. Then there would be crying and yelling and fighting, and I couldn’t stand it. After two days I took the magnets down.
For Christmas we received a care package in the mail from a dear friend, and one of the items within was… a poetry magnet set! This one was peace-themed, with soothing words like “love,” “serenity,” and “harmony.” Surely this was a SIGN that the magnets—and the children—could live together amicably, right?
“I am putting these magnets on the fridge,” I announced one evening. “Does anyone remember what happened LAST TIME?” They both nodded, sad. “Right. Let’s not have a repeat of that. You’re old enough that this shouldn’t be a problem. These magnets are for EVERYONE to use. But if there is bickering, I am going to take them down.”
“We won’t!” chimed two angelic voices in unison.
“You will not steal words from each others’ creations. You will SHARE and be RESPECTFUL of each other.”
“We will!” they assured me.
“I mean it,” I added, giving them a Meaningful Look, because I’m mean like that.
“We know!” they replied, arms around each other, dancing around the kitchen to demonstrate just how serene and harmonious (and goofy) they are.
So the magnets went up. We each wrote something, and I waited for the inevitable clash.
It came in about fifteen minutes.
“Chickie used the word I need!” said Monkey. She immediately began to protest, while I suggested he use something else and reminded them, again, that I would take the magnets down if they became a problem. Monkey made do and peace was restored.
A few days later, I came upon Chickadee doing a bit of rearranging one evening.
“What are you doing?” I asked, suspicious. It didn’t help that she leapt about ten feet in the air when I approached her.
“Nothing!” she said. “I’m not doing anything. I’m, uh, straightening the words out.” I surveyed the freezer door. My last sentence had been rearranged. So had Otto’s. Monkey’s was missing a couple of key words. I looked back at Chickadee.
“DO NOT TORMENT YOUR BROTHER,” I said.
“But I just—” she started.
“—was going upstairs to get ready for bed! Good idea!”
She stomped off.
I started to fix what she’d moved, then I decided to just wait and see what would happen.
There’s a fascinating dynamic between my children; on the one hand, Chickadee is the oldest, the mother hen, the unquestionable alpha of the duo. On the other hand, Monkey requires that many things be JUST SO, and suffers a good deal of consternation when they’re not. And the interesting thing is that he generally harbors such a deep admiration of his sister and her preferences that she is just about the only person for whom he will suspend his self-imposed rules and let things be Different Than He Wants, but even then, his limits are easily reached.
So there was no question in my mind that Monkey would notice his work had been disrupted. The question was, how would he respond? And how hard would Chickadee push back when he did?
Nothing happened for a day. And then the next evening I heard giggling in the kitchen and came upon this:
Monkey was terribly proud of himself. “You said we could spell things!” he told me, between giggles. “I spelled my FAVORITE thing!”
Chickadee came strolling in to see what all the laughing was about. “Monkey, you’re so weird,” she sighed, shaking her head. He just continued beaming at her until she added, “But I do like the exclamation point. Nice touch.”
I’ve been waiting for Chickadee to lay sabotage to this creation, but she hasn’t moved a thing. Funny; he said “Cheese!” and she said nothing at all, but I hear a message of peace and harmony in there, loud and clear.
Happy Love Thursday, everyone.
Awww, how cute!! And how inventive of Monkey!! LOL
Perfect. Your love makes me giggle.
Is that a stainless steel fridge? If so, how are the magnets sticking? Also, your children are awesome!
Where is the “Like” button? I love this.
This is even funnier for me, because my husband and I have a long standing joke about notes that say Cheese! (No, I can’t explain it, but I do think your kids are awesome.)
I also like “peace is peaceful”. Heh.
CHEESE!!!! You can’t go wrong with cheese. Bee would thoroughly approve. :)
It’s like your getting your picture taken every time you go to the fridge!
Yum, cheese! Love it!
Yes, please tell us why your magnets stick! I would love to get mine to work.
That is seriously awesome. Kids are brilliant :)
Cheese makes me happy too. At least it used too….:)
I know cheese makes me peaceful.
I like the exclamation mark saying ‘calm it!’ Very appropriate.
Very clever and the boy certainly knows how to get his point across. As for your lost magnets…when we moved and I was cleaning the fridge like one does when they are moving (pull it out and clean behind it) I found the missing alphabet and other magnets stuck under the fridge. I guess that part is made of metal too.
My fridge has a collection of Shakespeare insults that I got while I was in Stratford one year. Of course, I live alone, so I’m really just insulting myself.
My daughter has magnets in German. Which of course I cannot read. Also in regards to the bright and shiny post: We finally did choose to get two HDTV’s. Now if we could just get the remote to work. We can’t change the channel on one of the tv’s. Dish tech support said just to change the channel on the box until I get a new remote from them. Ok, but what if I want to watch channel 300 are you telling me I should press the up button 300 times. ha
Happy Love Thursday to you!
Monkey CHEESE. Perfect! :)
I have letter magnets in my middle school science classroom on the side of a big metal bookcase. My kids crack me up daily with the bizarre things they create on it. Surprisingly, there haven’t been any issues of kids being upset that someone else disturbed their creation. It was probably bordering on tasteless anyway, so I guess they realize it’s no big loss.
My dad has some of those at his house. Not the peace themed ones, just some regular ones. I spent my last visit sabotaging the sentences my 13 year old step sister would put. Just adding a word here or there to give her sentences unintended meaning. Heh.
Kids can be so creative… especially when it comes to messing with their parents :-)
Two Thumbs Up.
I think if you read the words in each letter it makes it better.
Mmmmmmmmmm, cheese. I love Love Thursdays. Sometimes it’s the best part of my day.
Cheezburger has lolcat ones. I was SURE you’d have a set. :D U can haz peese in teh howse with teh lolcats.
Awesome! Thanks for reminding me. I have those and need to pull them out again.
Of course my kids would want to write babybell cheese, becuase it is soooo expensive (ha!)… thanks for the great post. It made me smile.
Have a fab weekend! (three days, yeah!)
I love those magnet words. And yes, it can get you trouble. Or at least, that’s my experience with them.
I love the idea of a poetry set! I’ve only seen dirty word ones… Not really my idea of a good set for my kids. Though it could be interesting. :)