by Christy Gualtieri
As a parent, it’s drilled into our heads even well before our children are conceived that we are charged with the responsibility to teach our children well. Hundreds of thousands of Internet articles (and hundreds of printed books before them) laid down the primary rules of parenting: show them the way of life. Teach them the errors of their ways. Make sure they don’t turn out to be jerks.
And parents who try their best often quickly find out two things: first, that our children pick up on things way more quickly than we think they do; and second, they also end up teaching us some very important lessons about how to deal with others.
Recently, my son was at a play date with a few friends, and was playing with a toy when another one of the kids came up and swiped the toy out of his hands. He looked at the other boy, confused, and made a motion that he wanted it back. The boy refused, and my son looked up at me and threw his hands up in the air. “What is with this guy?” He seemed to say, and he walked off to the other end of the room and another toy.
It seemed whatever he’d found next was the hot ticket, because another toddler soon came over to hit him on the head with a wooden mallet in an attempt to distract him enough to swipe the toy for herself. Instead of hitting back, my son grabbed the mallet and put it high up on another toy so she wouldn’t be able to reach it to hit him again.
I couldn’t help but puff up a little with pride as I watched the scenes play out. Instead of retaliating, my son took a more proactive approach to solving his problems! I was doing something right! This was amazing!
Now, before you keep reading, let me assure you that telling you this isn’t some thinly veiled act of braggadocio, because I can tell you with 100% certainty that I was not the one who taught him these things. Not because I didn’t want to (I’d like my children to grow up playing well and non-violently), but because that is normally not how I would react. When I feel slighted or annoyed by someone, I do say something like, “What’s with this guy?” and follow it up with a half-hour screed to my husband detailing all of the ways I felt wronged. And although it’s been a long time since I got into a scuffle on the playground, my first instinct on being attacked wouldn’t be to disarm, it would be to cry – and then complain some more.
A few minutes later, the toddler who hit him, freshly out of time-out, was directed to play on a rocking horse. My son walked over and patted the horse’s head, watching the smiling girl rock away. He then proceeded to push his friend off, and hop on for a turn while she sat at the horse’s base, crying.
Sometimes in life, we get it. We do the right thing. Other times, we don’t – And while we may feel at the top of the mountain one second, we feel like we’ve fallen so far the next. What’s important is that we hold onto the right things – and know that if we’ve done them once, chances are, we can keep doing them, if we keep trying.
Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son, blogs at openthoseojos.wordpress.com, and tweets @agapeflower117. Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health!