in our house, the staircase is used as the time-out space.
if the boys earned frequent staircase miles, they would be able to visit grandma and grandpa on the west coast by now.
or at least have a highly respectable collection of magazines from their stray point collection.
the boys know that, when they have been asked to go to the staircase, they have officially gone beyond the limits of what we consider acceptable behavior.
anth usually wanders over sullenly.
ben protests, often extending his stay on the stairs, but eventually makes his way there.
he tends to find great joy in shifting about the stairs.
as long as he is somewhere between step 1 and 15, bern and i generally choose not to split hairs on that one.
recently, the sibling rivalry has ramped up a bit between the boys.
there are two main reasons for this.
the first is that anth's toys are becoming increasingly cooler to ben.
the second is that they have learned how to antagonize one another via poking-but-not-necessarily-hitting maneuvers.
as you might imagine, these tend to quickly escalate into i'm-not-so-much-poking-you-as-actually-hitting-you moments.
anth, being the rule-abiding peanut that he is, has also been trying to help benny understand the rules of the house.
sometimes, perhaps too emphatically.
bern and i have been trying to help him see himself as a coach for his little brother, rather than a disciplinarian.
recently, i was in the kitchen making dinner and the boys were playing in the family room.
i heard a bit of a volume increase in their activity, so i popped out to see what was going on.
i came out to find benny sitting happily on the couch, and anth sitting at the bottom of the stairs with his head in his hands.
i went to ask him what happened and he looked up, and said, "i yelled at my brother. so i feel like i'm in trouble."
the kid put himself on the stairs.
i let him decide how long he felt he needed to be there, and explained he didn't need to be so tough on himself.
and that it was okay to just let mommy and daddy be the mommy and daddy.
(and that he probably didn't need to find the nearest stairwell at school should he feel that he made an error in judgment in his new 1st grade classroom.)