Don’t you love it when you get into a tit for tat? The conversation that has turned into a competition or comparison in a hope that you are going to win or get something?

It starts when someone does more, or has more and someone else notices. Then it’s a tit for tat. Some tit for tats hurt, like the big brother that hits harder after the little brother has hit him. But some tit for tatting is that competitive conversing that ‘one-ups’ constantly in an effort to win.

“Tit for tat” language drives me nuts sometimes. I hear people using it all the time. My kids do it. My parents do it. My friends do it and drumroll please – I do it too. Gah!

The thing is, once you realise you tit for tat or you notice that someone you know is a tit for tatterer, your tit for tatting tolerance odometer can get very low.

The friend or work colleague that has to one up you on everything. If you had gastro, they nearly died from it (probably from brown nosing someone). Or if you booked a holiday to the Gold Coast they are going to America, first class of course.

The children fighting over who got more ice-cream, who last emptied the dishwasher, who last fed the pets, to who got the TV remote last. Kids tit for tat better than any adult tit for tatterer I know.

Your partner tit for tatting about who slept in last, who’s turn it is to get up for the kids, to who gets the most free time and who cleaned the kitchen last. Tit for tatting with our partners is a huge reason for those annoying disagreements.

It’s a never-ending tit for tat.

It’s an endemic.

It’s a way of conversing that is engrained in us.

Sometimes it’s fun. I love finding someone who likes to tit for tat and one up you with everything you say – just to see what will come out of their mouth.

However most tit for tatting tightens chests.

Children tit for tatting is as annoying as the baby shark song on repeat.

And tit for tatting with our partners? Well, that’s just our passive aggressive way of trying to guilt them in to seeing the inequality we perceive.

But does tit for tatting ever help? Does tit for tatting solve any of our tit for tatting problems? Me thinks not. The more I write about this topic, I not only realise that I’ve read too many Dr Seuss books with my kids, I also realise that tit for tatting only makes us feel momentarily better when the tit for tat is in our court. Then the person being tit for tattered tit for tatters us back and then the ball is back in our court. And like a tennis game with no point the tit for tatting continues until someone has a tantrum like Serena Williams and it’s over. It’s a tit for tatter disaster.

So tit for tatting doesn’t help.

So how can we teach our children to tit for tatter in a way that is productive? I think we all need to think about this one more, and think about the impact tit for tatting has on our lives.

It starts with realising that when we care too much about what others get that we are comparing ourselves them. Does it matter who got more sleep, more downtime, or an extra scoop of ice-cream? Like I’ve said in a previous rant – comparison is the thief of joy. When we focus on what we give, not what we get – the tit for tatting stops.

Something for us all to ponder.




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