I absolutely love it when I catch a glimpse of my child. . . well, not being my child. It sounds harsh, but I bet you mamas know of what I speak. At home my six-year-old son burps at the table and laughs, he ignores instruction on a whim, “please” and” thank you” are apparently optional and an occasional meltdown for no apparent reason is deemed normal. So imagine my delight when his “other self” appears, usually in public, and he becomes the dearest, most considerate, polite and helpful child you have ever seen. What? It’s on these occasions that I realize, contrary to my popular parenting belief, that my child actually is soaking up some of what I say and do. *gasp*
I love to see my little man say “excuse me,” as he makes his way across a crowded room, or say “thank you” when a child shares his toy, and all this without my mama prompts. Nothing warms my heart more than when I see my son befriend the one kid in the room that no one cares to play with — yup, that will usually be my guy. Now that will put a smile on a mother’s face!
Just this week at church dinner, I asked my son to eat more of his chicken casserole, but instead he ate a green bean (and he doesn’t even like green beans). A few minutes later, he whispered in my ear that he didn’t like the casserole because it was too mushy and that he really didn’t want to eat it. Okay, so on the surface it sounded a little shady, but what his young little brain understood was that the lady who made the meal that evening was sitting right on the other side of me and he didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I was completely touched that he got it! He got the lessons I’ve been pushing for six years, he got the idea of sparing the feelings of others and he got the craft of being subtle. Eureka!
Okay now, this is where it got really weird. Long after he went his way and people were putting away the tables and chairs, my son returned and began folding up chairs (they are as big as he is) and carrying them to the rolling cart. He continued, one at a time, until every last chair was nestled away and he even enjoyed the whole event. Now granted, his favorite playmate wasn’t at church that evening, but still. Honestly, I felt his head for a fever and was slightly surprised when I found none.
So here’s a word of encouragement for you mamas of little ones. Don’t despair; don’t give up. Keep plugging away at those lessons of politeness, caring and social graces. My child has come a long way from blurting out every little thought that pops in his head, and although he isn’t usually on his best behavior at home (and that concept simply just slays me) our words and actions are sinking into their precious little heads — for better or for worse.