"Your children will become what you are, so be what you want them to be" - David Bly
I have no idea who David Bly is, but I do believe these words to be true. And I wonder what kind of job I am doing with raising my son. I was embarrassed tonight. I only want the best for him, and am trying to raise a man who will be a positive force in society, who will be polite, and say please and thank you when someone does something for him. Someone who will stop to help a girl change a flat tire, or pick up the things that you just dropped and scattered all over the place. Someone who will be responsible for his own actions, and not leave someone else to always pick up the pieces. Someone who is honest, and reliable, and well mannered. I would love to have someone comment on how good my child's manners are.
We went trick or treating tonight, and I suppose the pursuit of glucose laden treats may not bring out the best behavior in a three year old. I imagine that running from stranger's house to stranger's house basically asking for candy in the form of "trick or treat!" is not nececarily the best way to teach my son to say thank you, or to understand the concept of just being grateful for what you have instead of asking for what you want. This is how it went:
My sister's two older children and my son (Chase) run ahead of my sister's two younger children in a race to the door to ring the doorbell, which they often rang more than once (my apologies to all the residents of my sister's neighborhood). Then the door opened to the usual chorus of "trick or treat!" to which the lovely neighbors would kindly respond with comments on the costumes and the handout of the candy. My son at every other house would then pipe in "I want that one" or rather than the "trick or treat" would simply say, "I want some candy". I didn't actually hear the first few times this occurred as I was waiting by the sidewalk with my baby in the stroller, so once I heard him I tried to correct him, by yelling from the sidewalk, "manners Chase!!" and once he returned to me, to tell him it's not polite to say that (although, we are going door to door basically asking for candy...) So he would say, "ok mom" and proceed to race to the next house to begin it all again. This went on for two trips around the block (once on the outside houses, once on the inside, although most days I do feel like I am going in circles.)
At the end of our trick or treat evenings, we always drive out to my mom and dad's acreage so that they can see the kids all dressed up. My mom likes to make special treat bags for the kids as well. So I pack up my kids and all our luggage that goes along with children and head out on the 10 minute drive to my parent's place. Once there, we take pictures of the kids, and Chase dives into his candy bag, to which I put a stop. He is bringing me candy from the other kids bags to open for them. He goes downstairs to play with the other kids and this is promptly followed by screaming amidst the blink of the lights going on and off, on and off. "QUIT PLAYING WITH THE LIGHTS CHASE!" I tell him firmly, as he likes to play with these lights only at my mom's every time we go there. When I tell him it's time to go, he does the jump-up-and-down-and-cry-cuz-I-think-it-gets-me-what-I-want dance. This is about as much fun as I can handle for one evening.
Don't get me wrong, I love my son. I love my new daughter. I know I am making parenting mistakes that are resulting in this atrocious behavior from my son. And I am embarrassed. I realize now, that my son is truly living what he is learning, as I think it is only human nature to always want more, or once you have something to want something else. It is what keeps us moving forward and striving for better things, improvements on what we already have. But there is something to be said for just being content in the moment, and being happy with what you have. And I also realize I need to model for my children the behaviour I want. Will my three year old still throw tantrums?? Of course. Don't all three year olds? But in between, he can be polite, and be grateful for what he already has. And I will try to do the same.