Since the beginning, we have been clear with friends, family (and the entire internet, for that matter) that we actually have no idea what the hell we’re doing insofar as “raising” our son is concerned.
Like most parents, we just fly by the seat of our pants, do the best we can, and hope the lessons our kid soaks up from watching us are good ones (for the most part). *This does not include the fact that “I’m breaking your balls!” is currently my kid’s favorite phrase to exploit in public.
At 3.5-years-old, the main thing I’m trying to teach my son is that he’s not a baby anymore and thus, he’s (more or less) accountable for himself. I also want him to feel confident in who he is without being a total prick. Sometimes though, when we are in the throes of parenting, we forget the rules and what that paragraph in the toddler book told you once, and just spew things honestly and organically. And sometimes, those are the best lessons of all.
Last week, my son happily played with three other boys his age (and older) at a local park. I was, as usual, perched on a bench – in sight, but far enough from the action to allow him to handle himself socially. They were huddled under a slide, when some words were said and suddenly my boy’s face straightened out and then saddened. I didn’t intervene. He slouched his shoulders, and with watery eyes, came to me to unload the unfair treatment that was bestowed upon him by his new crew.
“Mama, they told me they want me to leave and not play with them anymore….”
*Silent tears and quivering bottom lip*
I didn’t overthink my response and just said what came to mind.
“So what? Not everyone will want to hang out with you all the time. Who cares.”
Then we played a little game wherein we practiced for the next time something like that happened. We rehearsed what he’d say. After a few tries, he was smiling, confident and back out in the world with a new set of skills.
Them: “Oscar, I don’t like you. I don’t want to play with you.”
Him: “That’s cool. Whatever.”
The next day, over dinner with friends from out of town, I shared my funny little story with a father of two teenage boys. I thought it was pretty badass knowing my kid could “whatever bro” anyone he damn well chose to instead of letting their words get to him.
The Dad then told me, that this was likely a lesson my kid would hold onto forever.
“These little things you say now, you have no idea the impact they make until much, much later. In hindsight, you’re able to see that these small stepping stones you help build, actually help them develop into confident young adults. One day, a girl will tell him to leave because she doesn’t like him, or a boy at school will call him a loser, and he will be able to brush them off and move on – because of fundamental lessons like the ones your just taught Oscar at the park.”
I thought about it later that night. Such a seemingly small and meaningless response, could garner the beginning of a life skill set that will have him prepped for all the commonly unfair and crude moments coming his way throughout his childhood and into his adult life. And just like that, I felt a whole lot better about not knowing what the hell I’m doing, because apparently I’m doing just fine.
This is just a short story, with a small reminder to all the parents out there, doing their due diligence and paving the way for their little ones the only way they know how – honestly, openly, with a side of humour – and by not taking every little thing to heart.
You really can’t take life too seriously – it’s far too short for that, and most people these days are already oversensitive and easily threatened… so why not raise a gang of babes who can dust heir shoulders off and enjoy living instead? A simple lesson for us all.
Featured photo by Aleksandra Jassem
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