Friday, December 2, 2011
Easy Does It
On Halloween, I had the fun of going Tricks or Treating with our granddaughter down south. It was quite a different experience – no worries about getting costumes that were big enough to fit over winter coats and mittens! Two families planned to go out together and the 3 kids were dressing up around a theme. The 4 year old was Little Red Riding Hood, the 9 year old was the Grannie and the 11 year old was the Woodcutter – his plastic axe made the costume.
As we were getting ready to leave the house, the plastic axe broke and was irreparable. The creative 11 year old was undaunted and headed towards the garage. When Mom asked him what he had in mind, he happily replied that he was getting the real axe! Mom immediately and calmly said “no”. He argued that no one would even know what his costume was supposed to be without an axe (and in truth, many people did not). But Mom didn’t even give one reason, she just calmly repeated “no” and said let’s get going. Well he continued to give reasons and arguments and make a general fuss. She just calmly said “no” again and invited everyone who was going, to head out. She didn’t actually tell him he could stay home but it was obvious that she would have allowed him to make that choice.
Well we all trouped out and he was quite grumpy and muttering under his breath – for about 3 houses. Then the freedom of being out after dark, the company of all the other kids on the street and the fun of spooky tricks and endless candy took over. He was a delight the rest of the evening and took every opportunity to tell people he was “the woodcutter without the axe”. So indeed he solved his own problem.
Mom impressed me because it was clear this is how she parents. While I am pretty sure she gives reasons on occasion and has lots of in depth conversations with her kids on important issues, she also does not waste time or energy on issues when she is the leader. Those times she just leads; with love, authority and an absolute expectation that she expects to get what she wants. And her children follow her lead – pretty simple, pretty powerful, yes?