Friday, March 21, 2008

The person I want to be

Have you ever gotten to have that moment when you watch your child interacting with others and you realize that they have actually been listening to you? ... Yeah, I'm still waiting on it too. Actually, I'm only waiting on it because I didn't have the awareness to recognize it when it happened yesterday.

For a treat, we decided to take the kids to McDonald's for lunch. We went all out, even splurging on happy meals for each of them. Then we proceeded to make the utmost of parental sacrifices and sat at an itty bitty little table and watched the four kids play in the PlayLand. One by one, we started getting reports from each kid. They reported that strangers were pushing them and blocking the tunnels and just plain being obnoxious. Each time we repeated the standard parent playground saying and told them to just try to stay away from those kids.

When it was almost time to leave, Ben and Sarah came down the slide on one final turn. Sarah was leading the way and as Ben exited he could be heard giving other kids in the vicinity a tongue lashing. He told them, "The slide is made for sliding! Not for blocking and climbing up! If you can't play right you shouldn't be here!" Mortified, I jumped up and shouted to him, "Ben, stop it, be nice!" And he responded by looking up at me in shock. He came over to me and explained that he had asked them nicely twice, and they had pushed Sarah up at the top and now he had rammed into Sarah on the slide because they were blocking it. He also told me that the same kids had pushed Maris up at the top.

I had a moment of clarity realizing that he did exactly what I have always told him. He had followed my admonitions to: "Use your words!" "Stick up for your sisters!" "Ask nicely first!" "Don't let other people push you around!"

It was a new experience in parenting. I never expected the things I've taught him in theory to look so different in reality. Obviously, I immediately apologized to him, told him that he had done exactly the right thing and that I had been completely wrong to scold him for it. I realized that he was in fact being the person that I want him to be, but also the person that I am most often too scared to be myself. It was then, several minutes after the event, that I took advantage of the moment and swelled with pride!

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