As a parent, we have a unique opportunity to help mold children in to whoever it is that they will turn out to be.
Say for instance, that you are walking down the street and a complete stranger bumps in to you, knocks you down, looks at you, and walks away. Well, depending on who you are, you may tackle the stranger, throw something at them, or at least call the stranger some colorful names. And that’s about all you can do really. There isn’t anything really lasting there.
As a parent, you can teach your child not to be the jerk who knocks someone down and leaves them. A mind can work a variety of ways though. Impressing on a child that they should not be the jerk is not always as simple as it seems. The child may think that the person was in their way, or trying to cut in front of them. The child may think that this is somehow justified to knock the person down. So then it is up to the parent to get thru to the child that you don’t be the jerk. You just don’t. It is not the right thing to do, no matter what.
Sometimes a simple talk is not enough to convince the child of this. Sometimes it is, and I love it when it is easy. Other times, a parent has to get creative.
Tonight I got creative.
It wasn’t my first choice.
After sending my child to bed early, I had to go outside to calm myself down and think rationally. Then I devised a plan and went upstairs to talk to this child. I told him that I love him too much to let him be a spoiled, selfish person. Tomorrow, all treats in the house are gone. When he gets home from school, his room will be a lot more sparse. He will have books to read. He will have paper and pencil to write with. And his favorite one stuffed animal. That’s about it. He can come home from school, have a healthy snack, then go upstairs to read and write. He may come down for dinner, and then head back upstairs to read and write until bedtime.
He said that sounded like a miserable life. I assured him that there are children who dream of a life like that. There are children who don’t get a snack or dinner. There are children with no books, no paper, no school, no room of their own, no warm house, and no bed. There are children who get out of school and go work with their parents until bedtime.
Tonight I am thankful that I love these four too much to let them grow up to be the jerk. This stuff is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. I like to close my eyes sometimes and dream of when they are all adults and they thank me for NOT taking it too easy on them, for NOT giving up on them, and for NOT letting them win in the moments when I was tired and they were wrong. There is too much at stake here to grow weary – even when exhausted.