The other day my oldest was being particularly bossy to his younger brother and sister. This, of course, was causing some contention among the three of them, so naturally I stepped in to calm the kids down and try to sort it out.
"He was threatening us!" my middle child screamed. "He said he was more powerful than us and that if we didn't get out of the basement he would force us to leave."
When I asked the "boss" about this, he claimed I was only taking their side and accused me of coddling them and always blaming him for everything. The fact is, I never "blamed" him for anything. I only asked him if what his brother said was true. Of course those of you who have teenagers already know, it doesn't make any difference what you ask them, they'll ALWAYS play the "you blame me for everything" card - anytime they're in a defensive situation at all.
(Oh, and mom and dad - you can hang on to your "paybacks" comments - I get it.)
Anyway, because Senor Scowl was already crabby about something in the first place, it didn't take long before his little tantrum had escalated into a full-scale "I HATE YOU AND YOU DON'T GET IT!" bedroom door-slamming tirade.
This was ok with me because it meant I would have peace and quiet for at least another hour while he pouted about how stupid I am and how unfair the world treats him. Sure enough, about an hour later he came out to the garage where I was working, head down and hands in pockets.
"I'm sorry dad," he mumbled.
"That's fine," I replied, and gave him the "why it's wrong to try to control other people" speech, and reinforced the harm in using his age and strength against his younger siblings.
Then, in an attempt to create a moment of levity, I ended with "...and don't forget, just like Spider-Man said, 'Use your power for good, not evil.'"
He just looked at me like I was from outer space.
"First of all dad," he corrected, "it was Uncle Ben who said it, not Spider-Man."
"Secondly," he continued, "the correct saying is, 'With great power comes great responsibility.'"
"Thirdly," he laughed, "that is SO lame!"