Monday, February 20, 2012

Honey badger and others who don't give a...

You know those people who don't discipline their kids? The ones who think everything their kids do is cute? The ones who smile when their child walks up to your table at a restaurant and throws your plate of food on the floor simultaneously grinning mischievously at you? The ones who watch that, giggle, and say things like, "Oh, he's a rascal." You know them? The ones who make people who don't have children say, "I'm never having kids." The ones who make people who have children who behave most of the time kiss those children and say, "Thank God for you." You know them? They make me crazy. Their kids Make. Me. Crazy.

There was a shift about 30 years ago in how people raised children. A shift that caused parents to believe that boosting a child's self-esteem was more important than teaching them to be kind, caring, honest, compassionate individuals, who did what was right not just what they wanted to do. I don't throw stones out of my glass house. I do, however, wonder what the world is gonna look like when these self-important, entitled jerks are leading the country. Good grief.

My kids are going to school with them and playing on playgrounds and sports teams with them right now. There are about five of them to every one child whose parents make him or her behave. What in the world?? My kids say to me all the time, "That's not fair." No, life isn't "fair." "Why do I have to sit in the dugout when everyone else runs around?" Because the rule is that you sit in the dugout. "How come I can't throw rocks when all the other kids are?" Because it's wrong, and someone could get hurt. "Sally's parents let her do that?" What did my dad used to say? Oh, yeah, "Well, then go live with Sally's parents. They're idiots." I try not to say that, but ashamedly admit I may have busted it out a time or two in desperation.

A few years ago at Walmart, Lily threw a screaming fit because I wouldn't buy her a piece of candy. I advised her at the beginning of the trip that if she walked alongside the cart and held my hand she could have said candy. If she didn't, she would have to sit in the cart and there would be no candy. Before we even made it down the first aisle, she had broken this agreement and into the cart she went. "Can I have my candy?" No. Screams, tears, full-blown fit. The whole way around Walmart. It's a pretty big store. People stared at us. People judged me. People judged Lily. People mumbled under their breath about us. I did not get everything on my list, because I felt guilty subjecting all the other shoppers to this lesson. When we got to the car, she calmed down, and I explained to her again why she didn't get the candy. She got it. She has never thrown a fit in a store again. And, she learned that bad behavior is not rewarded. That was so worth that screaming trip around Walmart. Well, for us. I still feel bad about the other shoppers.

Lily is a handful. She is the first of my three children that drove me to devour parenting books. She is strong-willed and strong-minded and stubborn and mischievous. I have to be on my toes every minute with her. She can have something broken into five pieces before my brain registers that she has picked it up and triggers the words, "Don't touch that." She is also kind and compassionate and honest. She cares about people and exhibits more empathy than most grown people I know. She is not a tattle-tale and doesn't want to get other people in trouble. Except Peyton. She likes to get him in trouble. She says please and thank you, often without even being reminded. She knows what's right and what's wrong, and she knows there are consequences for wrongdoing.

She has been so much work, but after five years of trying many of the wrong techniques, I found the right one. It wasn't sending her to her room. We tried that for awhile. Too long. She spent lots of time in her room. That didn't work. What worked? Love. Lots and lots and lots of love. That doesn't mean I let her get away with things or give into her. I don't. But I make a concentrated effort to show her every day just how much I love her. I sit down and talk to her and explain things to her and hug her and kiss her and spend real quality time with her. I try not to yell. I rarely succeed. But the extra love has made a world of difference in her behavior. Oh, and I stopped caring what other people think about her and started embracing the wonderful little soul that she is.

There are a handful of people, who have always loved her. They saw past her often bad behavior to her little golden heart. I can count them on one hand, and I absolutely love them. Because, Lily isn't one of those "suck-up kids." She doesn't bat her eyelashes at strangers, perform tricks on demand (come on, we all know those people: "Susie, say your ABC's for Aunt so and so,") or crawl up into any available lap. If people try to "quiz" her, she knows what's up, and she will intentionally give them the wrong answer. I had to explain to her that when the teachers asked her questions, it was to evaluate her progress in school, and she needed to give them the right answer. "Ohhhh," she said.

She doesn't need to prove herself to anyone. She is who she is. She, much like the honey badger, doesn't give a shit. I absolutely love that about her. However, many people don't know how to deal with that. People like the suck-up kids. People are blindly charmed by the Eddie Haskells of life. My kids don't need people in their lives who don't see their worth, and neither do I. I spent probably three of my nearly four decades trying to make people like me and convince people I am a good person. Now, I've got these great, confident kids who are good people, who do the right thing because it's the right thing to do, not to make people like them. For years I have asked God for guidance, advice, and clarity. Funny that the best teachers He sent me came right from my very own body. God is so cool.


4 comments:

  1. I wish every one of my students' parents was just like you! You know what's going on and what's needed...and most of all...you know your kids!

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