Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Parent's Perception of Perfection

I've been thinking lately about how we set our minds in terms of how we see our children.  Parents, you know what I mean.  We have a "creative" or an "energetic" or a "happy" or a "grumpy" child, right?  We all assign some kind of label to our kids, usually from years of experience with said child.  

This is on my mind today because I have a friend who swears her child would "never do anything to hurt someone's feelings."  Really?  This statement came after her child played at our house and I watched him deliberately tell Middle One he couldn't play with him and Big Kid.  Middle One got tears in his eyes because he wanted to play and begged to participate.  Guest child refused and told him he didn't know how to play "right."

At that point, I intervened and made it clear that in our house we are kind to one another and if we can't be kind, guests go home early.  That settled it rather quickly and all three boys went off to play.

So, when my friend said her child would never do anything to hurt anyone's feelings, I knew for a fact that she was wrong.  Is she delusional or is she blinded to her child's faults or does he have a dark side she doesn't get to see or was her son just trying on his big boy attitude at my house?  I don't know.  I do know that because she doesn't see it as an issue in her son, she likely doesn't feel the need to work to instill in him kindness and consideration for others.

I also know it reminds me to be careful when I declare things about my children.  They're kids.  They're learning about the world and who they are.  Between now (before now?) and the day they leave this earth, they will try on new ideas, experiment with new thoughts, and do things I never thought possible for them.  

Heck, on my wedding day, my mom said to my cousin that she'd "never seen [me] like that."  I was very serious and very focused and thinking very much that I was making a very permanent choice and the weight of that very important decision grounded me like nothing before.  Even my own mother had never seen me like that.  

If my mom, who knew my personality better than anyone and who had watched me closely for 20 some-odd years, saw something new about me on my wedding day, chances are good that as mothers of young children we don't know everything about our children's personalities.  

Maybe we should be open to that and not box our kids in with what we think we know about them?  What lessons are we omitting because we're sure our child will never cheat or lie or be ugly to someone?  Being blinded by our perceptions of our child's perfection doesn't help them.  I'm just sayin'.

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