As a parent it can be hard to tell if you’re doing a good job, especially in real-time. Those mornings when your two boys are in their bedroom spitting on each other or those afternoons when they write on their walls with permanent marker for example. Sometimes you’re too close to get a good handle on what your kids are really like.
Parent teacher conferences are usually good, teachers see your kids in the ‘real’ World and don’t BS around. I know some teachers worry about offending parents but I want the truth about my kids so we can work together to fix any issues. We’ve had a few, nothing major though and it’s a work in progress.
Other times it takes a few words from another non teacher third-party who doesn’t see your kids every day. We had one such moment yesterday on the playground.
My oldest son was playing frisbee with a younger neighborhood friend when a much younger boy asked if he could play. Now just to set the stage no adult was actively involved in this conversation, parents were around and while they were observing no one said anything. I like to watch how things play out and don’t like to step in to referee unless I have to.
Anyway the three of them are now tossing the frisbee around and the younger boy is not doing very well. You remember what it’s like the first time you tried to throw one of those things. It went straight up in the air, or behind you or if you were very unlucky you hit yourself in the face with it. His experience was headed that way until my son stepped in with a truck load of patience to give him some tips. I had to remind myself that this was my son, the one who yells at his brother to do something then grabs it away saying, ‘nevermind I’ll do it myself!’
He showed him how to hold it and was encouraging when things didn’t go well. He was heaping on the positive reinforcement if the thing even went CLOSE to the right direction or he even came within 10 feet of catching it. Gradually he got a little better and I think I even saw a few fly straight and true, though I’m not sure if he ever really caught one.
Afterward this boy’s Mother came over to ask if that was our son helping him. We beamed with pride as we nodded yes. She exclaimed that he should become a teacher or a coach or at least do some babysitting. hell she was about to make him her sole babysitter right there on the spot. I had to let her know that he’s only 10, but that didn’t faze her. She said she’d wait til he was old enough to babysit and use him and only him from that point on. I’m not sure if that’s the best way to go, but the sentiment was greatly appreciated.
So the next time your kids are shaving the cat or flooding the basement try to cut them some slack. The way they act at home is not necessarily reflective of how they act in the real world. Sure you’d like them to be angels everywhere, but it’s more than a little comforting to know that you can trust them when you’re not around.