Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Signs That They Are Listening, and Learning

We went to the inlaws for a lovely Thanksgiving. My inlaws have a big game room that has lots of toys and exercise equipment. One toy in there is a little ride-on/peddler tractor, which is fun for the kids.

One day, Londo and I were chatting in another room while the kids played in the game room. We heard a scuffle that ended with the Pookie crying. I let out a big sigh, Londo and I shared a look that said "here we go again," and I put down what I was doing. In other words, I didn't run in there to see what was wrong. I went, but I took my time. I figured it was another case of the kids arguing over a toy and whining and crying about it.

When I got to the door and looked in, the Pookie was sitting on the floor next to the tractor toy with the Pumpkin next to him comforting him. She had her arm around him and was telling him it was okay, that he was okay, that she was sorry.

I thought, maybe I was wrong; maybe they weren't arguing and crying over toys. Maybe he hurt himself and his sister was making sure he was okay. But I did hear her say she was sorry, although not for what.

I knelt down next to them and asked the Pumpkin what happened, knowing that she's still at the point where she will tell us when she did things she wasn't supposed to.

She explained that she wanted to ride on the tractor toy, but that her brother wasn't letting her have a turn. So she pushed him off. But he fell and hurt himself and started crying.

I had a split second to decide which way to go with my parenting. I could:
1. Scold her for pushing her brother and lecture them both about taking turns, sharing, etc.
2. I could praise and encourage the compassion she was showing her brother.

It was a no-brainer for me.

If I teach my kids anything, I hope it is to be thoughtful of others. I hope they are compassionate and kind and inclusive and stand up for others. I hope they care about each other and are there for each other throughout their lives. I believe that by teaching thoughtfulness of others, they will be better about sharing and so many other things.

In fact, one of the phrases I repeat again and again in our house is, "It's not fun or funny if someone is upset."

When my daughter told me what happened, I instantly realized that even though my daughter pushed her younger brother off a toy because she wanted to use it, when he was hurt and/or upset her immediate reaction was to comfort him and apologize. Even though there were no adults in the room with them telling her what to do. Even though he was off the toy and she could have it.

She didn't just take the toy and go off on it. She didn't ignore him or laugh at him or anything mean like that. She didn't just care about getting what she wanted.

She immediately left the toy and went to her brother. She immediately cared more about his being upset than the toy. She apologized and comforted him.

And that is success in my book. In that moment, I saw that perhaps my and Londo's parenting was working. That moment was evidence that what I'm trying to teach my kids might actually be sinking in. It was proof that my kids are learning the lessons I think are most important.

It was a moment to remember, cherish, and record for prosperity so I can revisit when I'm wondering if they are listening to me at all.