Monday, February 02, 2009

Higher Expectations

The past 2 weekends were interesting experiences in child development and the role of parenting skills (or lack thereof) on said development.

Two Saturdays ago, I spent several hours with 4 kids (ages 10, 8, 7, and 5), trying to keep them entertained in my home and at Lowes (yes, the DIY store). This Saturday they were back (this time with their mom). The only way I would get suckered into tending to that many kids would be if they're related to me (and these 4 are). For the most part, these kids are relatively well-behaved, I suppose (compared to some of the really BAD things that they COULD be doing). However, I am continually surprised by the general lack of respect, manners, and consideration. By now, I probably shouldn't be surprised, but wow--I would've NEVER even THOUGHT of doing some of the things that these 4 do:

Put my shoes on the sofa.
Spill food on the floor and leave it.
Grab snacks from the counter (at somebody else's house).
Ignore my parents.
Say "I'm hungry" then not eat.
Say "no" when an adult asked me to do something.

How do parents get to the point where they just "don't care" about what their kids are doing, how they treat adults, or how they treat other people's property? Sometimes I think that maybe 3 kids was "enough" for these parents, but they didn't realize it until they already had the 4th. (Yeah, could you imagine that realization? "Dang it, honey, we should've stopped with 3, this 4th kid is just too much!") Or, are the kids simply a reflection of the parents' own actions, beliefs, and lacking niceties? Or, maybe you just have to "pick your battles," and trying to keep 4 pairs of feet off the sofa just isn't worth the fight?

It's easy to say, "oh, I'll never let my kid do that!" Eventually they will do some of the "thats." But, which of the "thats" are really just NOT ACCEPTABLE?

Finally, I have an example of something that one of the kids did/said that totally threw me off. On Sunday, only one of the kids came over. He had been playing video games most of the day and was taking an "eye break." He was watching the work that his dad was helping us with and I decided to offer dessert. So, I asked him, "Hey, would you like a banana split?" He didn't look up at me, but mumbled "yeah." I said, "well, the catch is, you have to come in here and make yours while I make mine." His response (still not looking at me) was, "well, nevermind then." WHAT?! A kid turning down a banana split because he has to make his own? His dad tried to talk him into doing it by telling him that he could put on his own toppings (and I listed out the ingredients that I had: vanilla and strawberry ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and caramel syrup). Still, no go, the kid didn't want to make his own food. I said "okay, your loss" and went to make mine. Well, after I piled up the toppings in my own bowl of ice cream, I walked over to show them (and share a bite with Richard)--and told him "it's too bad you didn't want to make one, it came out really good!" And he said "well, I guess I'll make one now." I told him, "sorry buddy, but I already put all the stuff away. Maybe next time."

Was that mean? Should I have made it for him? Should I have let him make it after he saw mine and changed his mind? I think I did the right thing.

I was even more glad when later: I asked him "hey, would you help me carry a bag of trash down to the dumpster?" (we had several loads of trash to take) and he said "no, I don't think so" (and kept on playing the video game)! I asked him "Why won't you help me?" And he IGNORED me! I even tried reasoning with him: "I cooked lunch and dinner for you, let you play my video game all day, and you still won't help me?" After I had taken all the trash out (3 trips), Richard asked me why he didn't help and I said "I don't know, either he's lazy or just wimpy enough to let a GIRL do all the work." Was that mean? Probably, but apparently "reverse psychology" doesn't work on this kid either, because he didn't even bat an eye. He even had the nerve to ask me if he could go back to playing the other video game!

I just hope that I can instill values in my kid(s) so that they will be motivated, creative, compassionate, helpful, respectful, and considerate people. I hope I never get to the point of just "letting it go."


At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous 's valuable input...

I really doubt that you'll let that happen.
Love to all 3 of you.
Gma M

At 12:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous 's valuable input...

That child is just plan RUDE. If that is how his parents allow him to be then there is just nothing you can do. I would remember that the next time this child would have came over to my house. Well Love ya'll


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