I’m pretty sure no one ever told me raising boys would be easy! In fact I’ve never heard anyone say raising any child(ren) would be easy. I do feel privileged, in a way, to have the experience of raising two boys and two girls. You see, there is an interesting dynamic that occurs between brothers and one that occurs between sisters. I could probably write a series of books for both, but for the sake of today’s post I’ll focus on all things “snips and snails and puppy dog tails”!!!
Life is a journey! I think we’ve all heard “life” made reference to in a number of metaphors or similes. However, I think it’s safe to propose that we could insert any number of other words in place of “life”. Marriage, a career, and yes, PARENTING!
The word “journey” (as stated in the Mirriam-Webster dictionary), is actually defined as “the travel or passage from one place to another”. It doesn’t really include a description of how that journey takes place, i.e.. easily, with much difficulty, quickly, slowly, etc. Just a basic knowledge that one will get from point A to point B as a result.
I’ve managed to ramble sufficiently so I’ll come to the the subject of my ponderings of late! A struggle I seem to have a hard time letting go of…what makes a good parent, who is actually responsible to judge who good kids are, why are some parents so obsessed with how screwed up other people’s kids are, is there a right and a wrong way to parent and quite specifically what is God calling me to in my own personal journey as a parent.
I’m pretty sure the face on the left says all it needs to say about why I would title a blog like this but I really have to share the dialogue of my almost six year old if for nothing else than to have a permanent record of it.
Jake had been having a few behavioral issues the last two weeks of school. Mostly just goofing around and being ready for the end of the school year. We have an incredibly understanding kindergarten teacher and she has walked both our boys through their first year of school with such grace and care but I have to say that if I had been in her position the last few days of school I would have found it difficult to display such composure as she when she informed me that my son had decided he couldn’t wait to use the bathroom.
A boy in his class found him peeing in the bushes and decided to join him. Shortly after that a few classmates found him and “reported” his rather unsavory behavior to the teacher. Needless to say her first response was to get quite angry (rather reasonable if you ask me) but then she decided to talk to the boys and determine if this was behavior that was considered acceptable at home.
That conversation went something like this:
“Jake, are you allowed to pee in the trees at home,” asks the teacher? “No, but sometimes I do and my mom doesn’t know because there isn’t anyone there to tell on me”, he replies.
Of course he’s informed that kids aren’t allowed to pee in the bushes at school even if the teachers don’t know about it and the message is relayed home that perhaps we should talk about it. Now we had conversed with Jake already that anymore unacceptable incidents at school would result in consequences at home but I wasn’t really sure exactly what would be appropriate in this case. James was quick to the rescue suggesting he write a note apologizing and giving two good reasons why he shouldn’t do that again. So here is what he wrote:
I am sorry that I was peeing in the trees. I know that pee belongs in the toilet and that someone could step in it. Please forgive me.
It was priceless and Mrs. T. was quite impressed with his neat printing, spacing and great spelling so she gladly accepted his apology.
Fast-forward to Tuesday afternoon after I picked the kids up from Nana’s house. This is how the conversation went:
Me: “Jake, I talked to Mrs. Thiessen and she said you had a great day today. I am very proud of you that you gave her the letter and didn’t have any problems today at school.”
Jake: “It was a good day mom (Pause) well, there was one incident…I kicked a girl.”
Me: “Jake, why would you do such a thing? That isn’t very kind.”
Jake: “I know mom, but she wanted to fight me.”
Me: “What do you mean she wanted to fight you, why would she want to do that?”
Jake: “Well, she walked up to me and she JUST, looked like she wanted to fight so I kicked her.”
At this point I’m trying not to laugh because really how can a parent not find it somewhat amusing when children are so matter-of-fact about their behavior. As a parent trying to raise healthy, well-behaved children it can be difficult to find the balance between letting kids be kids and experiencing natural consequences and setting boundaries that will help them establish the difference between right and wrong in their minds.
Really this was just a funny illustration of how teachable moments invade everyday of our lives as parents. We can choose to embrace them when our children are young and give them a good solid start or we can let them just “be kids” and flounder through many difficult trials as they head into adolescence.
by Jake that is! Most of you have already befriended on Facebook and therefore know what I mean by this. But to actually write down how cool it feels when you have a child that just “gets” something! Jake has always been a unique little boy. From the day he was born he has been my snuggler. People used to ask if he was really just that content to sit quietly on my lap without squirming away. He has been my most emotional child thus far and although it wears on my nerves it does create a special bond for us. He is the first to tell me I look like a princess even on the worst hair day possible and first to tell me he loves me. He goes from laughing to crying in a matter of minutes and rarely a day goes by without a bit of a tantrum. It does not make parenting him easy but in his moments of joy, laughter and compliments he is terribly easy to love.
In this past week he surprised me with an ability to read! You might be wondering why that’s such a big deal but when you consider the fact that he’s 5, only half way through kindergarten, I’ve never actually worked on “reading” with him and his teacher had no clue this was possible, it does in fact strike a cord. He brought me a small book of early reading books my good friend, Heather, lent to me and opened it and read the first sentence, “The fat cat sat in the red box.” There was a picture but it is more of pencil sketch and it is not colored so he could not have just looked at the picture and read the sentence perfectly. When I asked him if he had been working on his words at school he said, “no, I just know how to read”. WHAT!!! Who just does that? I know I’m a bit biased and probably too proud (which by the way I’m trying to temper so my other children don’t get a complex) but the look of sheer enthusiasm that covered his face could not be ignored. We proceeded to read four more of said books with only a few words of help on my part. He sounded words out and even self corrected when it didn’t make sense. I know this is but a tiny accomplishment in the world of education he has yet to face but a major stepping stone in conquering one of the most important aspects of living.
To say the least, I am in awe and joyful at the great achievement he has accomplished.