Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Mommy Report Card

Sometimes it's hard being a mom. You don't get paid or recognized for your work and it's sometimes hard to gauge whether your kids are actually getting the stuff you are teaching them or not and whether or not you are doing things right.
I took my daughter to the pool this weekend for some fun Mommy/Girl time and I felt like I got a glowing Mommy report card. No, it wasn't because someone walked up to me and told me I'm a great mom or that my daughter was the most angelic they've ever seen. I wouldn't have believed that! It came about after I observed what my daughter wasn't doing!

There was a little girl about 6 years old playing in the kiddie pool with us. She proceeded to fight another kid over one of the ride-on toys and shoved this much smaller kid down. Another mom got after her. She was being really agressive and hanging on to the irate's mom's son, who was about her age, and kept rough-housing with him to the point that the irate mom said firmly, "Don't touch him anymore! Keep your hands off him!"

The girl returned to the pool after a few minutes in the bigger pool and began fighting the same boy for a toy. She was dumping water on him and his mom. So the mom took the toy away and said "No!" The girl kept grabbing for it, which shocked me, because she was defying an authority figure who was clearly saying no. I heard a mom yelling at the girl from the bleachers, but she was oblivious to it. The lifeguard came over and lectured the little girl. The mom of the girl came down from the bleachers and told her daughter it was time to go. The daughter wouldn't leave. The mom, a very large woman, took off her shoes and came into the pool room door and tried to persuade her daughter to leave. The girl took off, so the mom started rolling her sweats up and attempting to get in the kiddie pool and chase her daughter. A young teen lifeguard then took up the chase and another mom in the big pool helped corral the girl and tell her to listen to her mom. The mom drug her out of the pool room, no doubt fuming and that girl was probably in deep doo-doo when they got to the car!

I sat there watching all of it and realizing that while my daughter has tons of energy and while she does sometimes embarrass me and bop a playmate over the head in front of their mom or some such thing, she is only a brand new 3 years old and behaves 10 times better than the 6 year old at the pool. It's not because I'm a perfect parent. There are so many times when it's hard to be consistent or I'm at a loss with how to handle her. But being mostly consistent and doing the best that I can, however little, has paid off in the way she acts publicly. If I called her at the pool, she would come. And if another adult tried to reprimand her, she would listen. And I can't see her wrestling a strange adult over a toy they took away or dumping water on their head at the age of 6. I haven't had to get a posse together just to wrangle her out of the pool.

This experience was a little window into motherhood for me. All the behind the scenes work really does pay off and you will get your "Report Card" someday. If your child learns manners, obedience, sharing, and is generally a delight around other people, both friends and strangers, then you can count yourself a blessed and hardworking parent! Being a good parent is not about raising kids that are the top athlete, the valedictorian, or kids that became famous or wealthy. It's not about your kid being in all the right programs or having all the newest toys/gadgets or becoming a pastor or missionary (although that would be wonderful). The badge of honor for a parent is the child's character. I realize that children are born in sin and that sometimes in spite of the parents' loving instruction, a child will turn away from the Lord, as with my brother. But even though my younger brother isn't a Christian right now, he still speaks respectfully to strangers, has a compassionate heart, and stands up for the underdog continually. He works hard and believes in right and wrong and justice and is one of the most giving people I know. He's good with children, is doing a job he loves, and deep down, I know he knows the Truth and I believe he'll come back it to it one day soon.

If a child is belligerant to authority, talks down to other kids, or doesn't lift a finger to help with anything, it's a reflection on their parents. If a youngster is consumed with material things, uses filthy language, or has racist or chauvenistic views, they're probably mimicking what they see at home. If they don't listen to their mom when she tells them to come (like our Mexican neighbor girls who are 5 and 6) it's because no one has ever enforced those commands, so why should they listen? One of my friends' who is a teacher had a student who tried to manipulate her with tears at every turn. When my friend didn't give in, the student was pretty shocked! The tears must work the parents over well at home! Other friends who are teachers in the public school system have talked about how the biggest hindrance to the kid's learning nowadays is the lack of discipline. Classrooms are like warzones these days as parents don't discipline (which means training) and teachers have policies and rules against so many things that there is hardly anything they can do except try to reign in the chaos!

Note to parents of toddlers: Life with toddlers is so unpredictable, I hope you don't take this post to mean that if your child throws a fit in the grocery store due to being tired or hungry or just himself, that you are a bad parent. The Mommy Report card concept I've discussed here is talking about kids of elementary school age on up, though hopefully you do see some results, like I do in my daughter, earlier than school-age. Our kids will never be perfect and they will always challenge us, and sometime humiliate us, but overall, the training you do at home will be reflected in how they act in public. Toddlers are still so little and so self-consumed. Believe me, I've had a few of those grocery store moments myself! But as Ali gets older and out of the "toddler years" I see her putting into practice more of those things that I've been harping on for a long time!

1 comment:

Mrs. Taft said...

Yikes!!!!!!!!! Oh my. I'd wonder if that kid had Asberger's or something, but usually their parents are more attentive...yikes!

Pin It
Pin It
Pin It