The kitchen is clean and coffee set up for the morning. All I have to do in the morning is hit “start.” I’m still in work clothes so I change into some comfy attire and prepare to sit in front of the TV. Kids have disappeared for their final evening minutes on a game. I pick up the remote and hit power. Nothing happens. After a few more attempts I decide the batteries are dead. I open the back up. No batteries….not dead, not installed incorrectly, just gone. (Sigh).
This might seem odd to most but not in my household. I head directly to my son’s bedroom. Opening the door, I see him lounged back on the bed, headphones on, controller in hand, pure concentrated gaze on the TV. He glances up, “Mom, please knock….I’m older now and need privacy.” “Honey, I’m older now and need the couch and TV!” I don’t back down! He glances back up, eyebrow raised in confusion. “What?”
I explain, “You took the batteries out of the remote again for the game controller, didn’t you?” He becomes defensive. “Why do you blame me for everything!”
In his defense and my exhaustion, I did accuse and didn’t ask.
With a softer, controlled tone I ask, “OK – did you remove the batteries from the remote in order to use them in your game controller?” He pauses, “Yes..” I roll my eyes, “… but I checked the battery bin and there are none left!! I had no other choice,” defending his actions. I sigh. I ask for a minute away from his game and explain how communication can resolve this and what he did could be considered selfish.
He gives me his undivided attention, apologizes, and we move on.
Did it make a difference? I’m still without batteries and need to find some. Do I make him give me the batteries out of his controller? I probably should, but instead, inform him of his remaining minutes and leave his room. I question, do I want to be right or happy?
I open the fridge and crave some cold orange juice. Picking up the container I realize there is barely a drop in it. A box of crackers in the pantry is completely empty and dirty cups sitting on the kitchen table. This is my daughter’s doing. I call her into the kitchen and begin. “How many times have I told you…….”
She is apologizing and throwing things away around me, picking up the cups and washing them in the sink. “It’s just selfish, honey. Can you see that it’s selfish to leave these things empty and dirty like that?”
She doesn’t fight but probably gives a hidden eyeroll, does what she needs to do to get me off her back, and returns to her room. Her focus stays on whatever project is currently captivating her mind much more than cleaning up after herself.
I growl to myself in irritation and wonder how I have failed as a parent that my children are so selfish!
The next day we had a few errands to do and although the children complained about going, it is for them so no negations. I had just finished explaining that if I am going to shop for them the least they could do is come with me! So selfish!
The kids and I are all wandering across a parking lot into a clothing store. There is an older woman ahead of us and moving slow. We are almost to the doors when my son speeds up his feet to get around her, opens the door for her and waits for myself and his sister to enter. I praise him saying thank you, and “that was such a gentleman thing to do!”
We keep moving along and the lady turns to get a cart from the group lined up together. I keep moving fixated on the boys clothing area. The lady apparently had trouble pulling the cart out and drops her purse, a few things falling out. I turn to find my missing daughter bending to pick up the lady’s things and help her with her purse.
She is thanking my daughter and walking by me. She gently puts her hand on my arm and says, “You are doing a great job with those kids. They are so kind.” I blinked a couple times and said, “Thank you – they are pretty great!” I said it loud enough that they could hear me.
The wave of pride that I felt for my two children that day couldn’t be matched with a scoring point, winning of a race, or an excellent grade. Those things I’m definitely proud of, but nothing gives me a more joy than when I witness their selfless acts of kindness.
Regardless if the day before they didn’t do one thing correct or responsible, our children need to know that we are proud of them and hear us commend them to other people! It is also not a reflection on my parenting that my kids are not perfect. They are human, as all of us are. When we are home, in our comfort zone, we may not always be the better people we strive to be. I lose a good amount of maturity at home with eye rolling, and sarcastic comments. How can I expect them to be on target each minute when I can’t do it either?
Our children will always have negative moments as we adults also have our own momentary lapses of reason. Maturity is knowing when to recognize our faults and step up when someone needs help.
If our children are performing these tasks and doing it naturally, we are winning in spite of ourselves!