Instituting The Dibbs Proclamation ended the bickering between my two kids

Guest post by Mark Freeman

Scuffle
I instituted a new rule in our household this past week.

Dibbs.

I know — some of you might now be wondering what kind of household I preside over — but bear with me a moment. I was driving home after picking up my daughters from school earlier in the week. And like sisters do, or maybe just siblings in general, they were bickering on the way home. It ranged in topics, but pretty much covered anything my youngest daughter thought would get a rise out of her older sibling. I tried to stay impartial. Let them work it out amongst themselves, and learn to solve these disagreements civilly. Honestly, I was just trying to block out the din of squabbling and listen to Matt Kearney on the CD player.

However, I was inevitably drawn into the disagreement. “Dad! I said I had to use the bathroom, and she said she’s going to use it first!” My oldest intoned from the back seat. I looked in the review mirror to confirm this was not some ruse, some prank, or attempt at punking their father. Were they really fighting over who got to use the bathroom first when they got home? Yes. Yes, they were. And they were dragging me into it. Serves me right for only having a home with one bathroom.

“Well,” I said. “Who called dibbs?” Stunned silence momentarily followed.

I have to admit, these moments of self-satisfaction that I feel while parenting makes it all worth it for me. Okay, the girls themselves — just being themselves — makes it all worthwhile, but these moments really are the icing on the cake. I know I should reserve these moments of proud parenting for graduations, honor rolls, sporting championships, and other civic honors, but, no. These are the moments I feel proudest of my parenting skills. Honestly, I don’t know if any other parent is ever as proud of themselves during these moments as me. If so, I should start a group just so we can share these awesome moments.

Anyway, the moment quickly passed, and my oldest asked, “What’s ‘dibbs?'”

“Well,” I said, “Dibbs is what you call when you want to stake claim to something.” Again, rapt silence and attention. “So, if you want/need the bathroom first, you call dibbs on it. If the new American Girl catalog comes in the mail, you call dibbs, so you can read it first. If there’s only one brownie left, you call dibbs. Well, you actually share, but you call dibbs first, so you can get the credit for sharing. Make sense?”

Silence.

“I CALL DIBBS ON THE BATHROOM!” My oldest shouted from the backseat. “I call second dibbs!” My youngest proclaimed.

Since The Dibbs Proclamation has been passed in our house, a new sense of order and agreement has followed. Never in my wildest dreams would I have anticipated such cooperation and acceptance. All the time and effort trying to teach communication, sharing, and reasonable compromise, and a 30 second lesson on dibbs brings balance to the Force. Who knew? Order 66 wasn’t even this effective.

It’s left me looking forward to the retirement of car seats and front passenger seat riding. Oh, I can hardly wait to introduce the SHOTGUN Decree.

Comments on Instituting The Dibbs Proclamation ended the bickering between my two kids

  1. Dibbs is not unlike the Nose Decree. Dibbs if for something you want, while Nose is for something you don’t want. Whose turn to do the dishes? Last person to touch their nose has to do them.

      • indeed. we call it “nose goes.” ; ) great tactic in chaging diapers and so much faster than ro sham bo (rock paper scissors.)

        • LOL. We haven’t started Rock Scissors Paper yet, but it’s on the docket for sure. Instead of nose, we have used “Not It” for some time now. 😀

        • The nose game works great… until you actually get really good at it. I remember a year at camp however long ago wrestling one of the other camp leaders to the ground with one finger on my noes trying to pull his finger off his noes because everyone had simultaneously noes gamed out on cleaning the ash out of the old fire pit. Turns out anything can get violent if its a job nobody wants badly enough.

    • “Nose Goes” was a legit rule in our house. To the point that we tried to teach our dog to put her paw on her nose when we said it…

    • In my house it was always “bags not!” and your thumb on your forehead. Last person gets stuck with the crappy job.
      Also sometimes we’d do it silently, one person would suddenly look around and see everyone with their thumbs on their foreheads without having realised there was something crap that needed doing :p

    • I visited some friends where it was double thumbs-up, but they did it covertly. Like when everyone drifted to seats at the kitchen table for dinner, they’d one by one put thumbs up until someone was left having to pray for the meal. By the time I left that week, people were walking to the table carrying the basket of rolls but with their thumbs clearly pointing up on either side of the basket. 🙂

    • No lie- my husband uses “Not it” at work. And the person who is last has to do the crappy job. And since my husband works for an animal shelter (and previously for a pet store) it’s almost always a literally crappy job.

      • NICE! My wife and I started when it came to changing diapers. We still say it now as our our youngest perfects her wiping technique and we hear, “Can someone check my bottom?” shouted from the bathroom. 😀

  2. I love this! As my children all sound like old men bickering back and forth about the weather, I would gladly take any advice on hearing less of that!

    • Thanks, Tina! Hope it works! One side effect, however, is now – sometimes before I’m even done speaking – someone is shouting “dibbs!”. 🙂

  3. In our home the Shotgun Decree is modified by the Meech Lake Accord (not the actual Canadian political event, but from events that came about on a car trip a few years ago to the actual Meech Lake in Quebec). Shotgun on long car trips is modified thusly:
    Whoever calls shotgun at the beginning of the trip only has that seat until the first pit stop. Someone else may then call shotgun. The first person may win shotgun again but this is generally considered to be bad form.

    There was more but I can’t remember it all just now!

  4. This backfired for us — they are now calling dibbs on things they don’t even want (like the bathroom) when they know the other person wants it.

    • Oh, that is SO awesome. I see my oldest figuring this out shortly. Hmmm, I’ll have to start working on a DIBBS veto…

  5. I find it fascinating that they just didn’t know… but then again, you have to learn it sometime!

    It was definitely a thing when I grew up to call dibs, except in my house it was “I called it!” The most common usage was definitely the bathroom as there were 6 people, and for quite some time, one bathroom.

    • This reminds me of the Brian Reagan skit where he’s talking about using the “I called it!” at home with his siblings, and then using it at school with minimal effect.

      “I call this chair!”
      “We all do, Brian.”

  6. In my first grade classroom all such arguments are solved with Rock Paper Scissors. And *not* 2 out of 3 or 23 out of 42 or whatever. Just once. Many times kids will come up to me and want my help and I just say ‘rock paper scissors’. and go back to helping other kids. It solves about 90% of the fights.

  7. I work in a democratic, free school, which equals 160 children in constant negotiation. Rock, Paper, Scissors is a life saver. For some reason, in all the years, I have only had one student who refused to bow to the all mighty Rock Paper Scissors.

  8. “I have to admit, these moments of self-satisfaction that I feel while parenting makes it all worth it for me. Okay, the girls themselves — just being themselves — makes it all worthwhile, but these moments really are the icing on the cake. I know I should reserve these moments of proud parenting for graduations, honor rolls, sporting championships, and other civic honors, but, no. These are the moments I feel proudest of my parenting skills.”

    ohahahaha I am laughing out loud at this.

  9. As one of 5 kids, my parents’ sanity were clearly saved with dibs, nose, RPS, and 2 others:

    -for sharing food/”the last piece” of whatever, one person gets to direct Mom/Dad as to where it is cut. The other person gets to pick which half they want. Ne’er has the exact midpoint of a brownie been so scrutinized….
    -calling “fives/fivesies” on a seat/chair/excellent snuggle spot ensured that, as you were getting up to go to the bathroom, ask a question, etc., your spot is guaranteed for 5 minutes.

  10. You know, of all the emotional, eloquent, and thought-provoking posts on this site, this is in my top 5?

    1. I call dibbs on joining that Misplaced Parental Satisfaction Club.

    2. My kids fight over who can imaginary eat which imaginary condiment on their imaginary hotdog and cupcake paella. Then I end up trying to apply rationality to this situation, because obviously they are in the mind states to listen to the real-life implication of hoarding invisible mayo.

    3. Life is all about saying it first. It’s all so clear to me now.

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