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Published October 11, 2011, 07:32 PM

Tracy Briggs: 80s Music Offers Path to Parental Peace

See that photo of me next to this column? That is the picture of a woman who is at the end of her rope.

By: Tracy Briggs, Forum Communications

See that photo of me next to this column?

That is the picture of a woman who is at the end of her rope. Sure, I’m smiling. I hide it well. But my children are driving me crazy. Don’t get me wrong. I love them more than life itself. I’m incredibly blessed to have them, but I’ll say it again: They’re driving me nuts.

In the past few weeks, my precious daughters have been fighting with each other like crazy women – like little “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” without the Botox and bank accounts.

It’s rarely physical. It’s that snotty, mean-girl fighting: sniping, picking and harassing each other just for the sake of doing it. But at least I know it’s really important stuff.

“Mahhhhhummmmmm, Laura undressed my Justin Bieber doll!” (I was happy to see that Laura didn’t really undress him; she just changed his clothes.)

“Mahhhhhummmmmm, I was watching TV, and Jordan just walked in here and sat down. She knows that bugs me!”

Earth-shattering stuff. I wonder if Jimmy Carter would make a house call.

What’s sad is that they used to get along so great. When they were little, they used to dress up in what they called their “snow sister” outfits and pretend they were the Haynes sisters from the movie White Christmas. “Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters …”

Now they’re more like the Spinks brothers (that’s Leon and Michael for those of you not versed in 1970s-era boxing brothers).

My husband and I do take charge of the situation as best we can. When the fighting gets to be too much, we take away the TV. A day without the Disney Channel is brutal, like taking away The Food Network from me or ESPN from my husband. But sometimes that doesn’t even work.

That’s when we pull out the big guns. We start singing ’80s songs to them. It happens quite naturally, really. For example, the other day, the girls were fighting over a broken pair of cheap zebra-striped binoculars when one of them said, “No fair! I was working on them!” That’s all we needed. How could we not sing that Human League classic, “Don’t You Want Me?”

My husband: “You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, when I met you …”

Laura: “Daaaaaddddd!!!! Stop …”

Me (adding some ’80s dance moves): “I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar … that much is true …”

Jordan: “No more ’80s!!!!”

The good news is our ’80s musical flashback deflected them from fighting with each other. I think I’ve stumbled upon something here.

Embarrass your children so thoroughly that they have no choice but to channel their outrage at you instead of their sibling. Brilliant! And believe me, my husband and I can take it. We have a full arsenal of totally awesome ’80s lyrics floating around our brains, ready to come out at a moment’s notice. How totally cool is that? For sure.

By that evening, I smiled when I overheard my daughters talking and giggling with each other in their room. Seriously? They just about came to blows an hour ago. Now they like each other? Maybe they’re reconsidering what it means to have a sister and be a sister.

Either that or they realize it’s good to have an ally when you’re forced to live with the world’s most embarrassing parents.


Tracy Briggs is a mother of two and is an employee of Forum Communications Co.

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