17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Things They Say; The Lessons We Teach

"Look Mom, that man's little!" exclaimed my three year old as he pointed his sharp finger over my shoulder.

I turned to find a small man standing behind me. Not a midget exactly, but obviously smaller than the others around him. Small enough for my DS to notice. I fumbled for words to say as this gentleman reassures me it's fine, that he was used to it. My heart broke. Yet another kid making fun of this man, and not only was I witness to it, but I gave birth to the person doing it! So I tried to explain that all people don't look the same. We are all different sizes and after all DS you are little too. I really hoped it sunk in and that we were done with that discussion (oh yes, i am naive). A few days later DS points at someone else (I don't remember why) and says "look mom. We don't point at people. It hurts their feelings." Ok. Maybe something sunk in.

Fast forward one week. DS is saying "Oh my G**" over and over and over and over. We have had this discussion already, twice. It keeps coming back. I wonder if I'm explaining it correctly and if he understands (I'm pretty sure he doesn't). I explain anything and everything to help it stick.

"Do you know who Heavenly Father is?" I ask.
"Nope" he replied.
"Do you say your prayers to talk to him?"
"Nope" he replied again.
Sensing I'm really losing him, I say, "He's our Father in Heaven. We don't say His name like that because it..." I draw a blank. What should I really say? It hurts his feelings? It's rude? It's against the commandments? What is he really going to understand? So I say all of it. I ask him if he understands.
"Nope." He says.
Discussion over.

Fast forward yet another week, or two. (Who's keeping count anyway?) DS is pretending he is smoking his straw. I ask him what he's doing. "I'm mokin'" (he's really cute when he tries to say it). And what I like to call the "smoking discussion" starts AGAIN. (this has been going since age 2) We talk about how it burns our lungs, turns our teeth yellow, and makes us sick. It still hasn't stopped him from smoking anything he finds, crayons, sticks, forks etc. However, now every person we pass on the street that is smoking gets a lecture; "Hey you, We don't moke! It make you sick!"
Do you think this is going to be enough to keep him from trying it himself? I'm optimistic, yet still doubtful.

Fast forward to today, (my personal favorite). Walking to the store DS tells me that the man in the truck is staring at me. I'm thinking he's just glancing as we walk by, but considering this is a city with dirty old men, it is possible I am being checked out. Regardless, I keep walking when DS yells "Hey you, don't stare at us like that. Its rude!" I laugh and then think, "That's my boy, standing up for your mom!" This has been the only time to date that I have been proud of him for yelling at someone. Maybe this is wrong of me, but I do hope that while he is learning all of these manners, he is also learning to stand up for himself. Especially in this crazy city. I'm glad to see that today he is.

Which has lead me to "today's ponderings." It's hard teaching kids because they see in black and white while we actually live in a world shaded with grays. I would love to teach them all these nuances now, but realize the realizations about life come slowly and not until you are a lot older. So we watch them grow and learn to function in society while we tell them "Do this. Don't do this." For many reasons that are left undefined.

I hope I get better at handling these teaching situations. I try to think of how to prepare for all of these moments, but realize even if I could prepare, it would be a crazy thing to do. I hope I live my life the right way, enough that my kids will notice and hopefully a little will rub off. Again I'm optimistic, yet doubtful.

I remember the philosophy of one of my acting professors. He always said, "If the play is good, it's all because of the actors. If the play is bad, its all because of the director." This has always made sense to me and I think it's the same with kids and parents. I hope my kids end up good (as we all do). They will have had to work hard to navigate all these shades of gray to come out right in the end. And on that I'm pretty optimistic.


  • I think you're doing a great job! Your DS will definitely get it as he gets older, but I think it's good that you still try to teach him what's right and wrong even though he doesn't understand everything yet. Kids gain understanding gradually, so it's a good thing to start early!
    posted by Blogger Marisa at 4/11/2008 01:09:00 PM  

  • kristie, you made it on to post! Hurray.

    As much as I am trying to teach my kids manners, I do feel happy when they assert themselves in certain situations. The other day on the subway Poopy shoved her way in when adults were sort of pushing on her. I liked to see her assert herself and protect herself.

    As for the little person, come on, your DS is SO little...it's not like he is a 12 year old...anyone who gets pointed out by someone so small has got to have a little compassion there, especially when they see you caught off guard or trying to have a teaching moment. I was recently reminded that even my 6 year old is still in a developmental period where she is still learning about this kind of thing and using her new found vocabulary and freedom in a way that can sometimes be hurtful....she just doesn't get the whole picture yet, and neither does your DS.

    You are doing great...love that I am not the only one telling my kids to stop pretend smoking and stop telling the people smoking that they are going to drop dead.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 4/11/2008 05:16:00 PM  

  • I agree whole-heartedly with Kage. You are doing a great job. I think you have to turn those moments into teaching moments. The perfect time to teach our kids is when something is actually happening. Especially when they are little. Then they can do their best to try to connect the lesson to the specific event. I guess it might take a few hundred times, but eventually they will get it (we hope!). He will always remember the lessons you teach him, even when it seems like he's "not getting it". Good luck! And I'm so glad you posted.
    posted by Blogger beth at 4/11/2008 09:13:00 PM  

  • love this post...i very much think in gray and want to teach my kids obedience with tolerance, but it is hard when they are little and you encapsulated that well. I guess you start with the black and white and as they grow older and understand things more abstractly, you teach them the grays in life.

    ps...your cute little ds is already quite the new yorker!!!
    posted by Blogger Jen at 4/12/2008 01:15:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.
    posted by Blogger kristie at 4/12/2008 01:30:00 PM  

  • I personally love how children are SO honest. My little girl has learned that if she doesn't have something nice to say she shouldn't say it out loud, but if she has questions or comments to share with just me - that is fine. She has not hurt anyone's feelings in a while! I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I also don't want her to end up keeping everything she thinks inside. We have had many deep discussions - and she is only 4 (going on 24)! You are doing a great job!
    posted by Blogger Shannon at 4/18/2008 07:19:00 AM  

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