Not a long one today.
I was just given pause a day or so ago by my girls, my adorable and precious princesses who are growing up so fast that I’m hardly noticing that the gray hair on my chin is increasing daily.
Leading By Example
I try my best to lead by example. I speak distinctly and I make a point to sneak difficult vocabulary into conversations to prompt them to ask me what those words mean. I don’t push, but I make sure they understand.
I also like to drive home the point that you need to stay focused on the task at hand. When they get lackadaisical in the mornings or on the way to the car, I’ve been known to bark out, “Focused! Efficient! Focus!’
I’m having fun, it has little to no impact on the speed with which things happen, but the girls have gotten to understand it’s the warning bell before I roll out the old “count to five” threat.
They giggle when I do it, I get to put on a “grumpy face” that makes them laugh more and we all have a great time. Mi–Bo especially gets a kick out of it and often is reduced to belly laughter once I start with it.She knows even better than Roo that I’m all bark.
Bo is more adept than Roo at manipulating me in the precise manner to get what she wants. Fortunately, she still gets a kick out of Drill Sergeant Daddy; but I have a feeling when she gets sick of it I’ll have to stop.
Then it happened this past weekend.
In the basement, ostensibly playing with Mi–Bo, I got distracted by my iPad (it happens).
I zone out until she taps me on the head, and says loudly, “Focus, Daddy! Focus!” You’d better believe there was tickling after that. She beat me at my own game.
One great thing to watch is Roo figuring out for herself when Daddy isn’t being serious. It’s relatively easy on both of us now, because I can be a full smart–ass and instead of getting her feelings hurt, she’s becoming fluent in nuanced conversation. I dig that.
However, something that has blown up in my face is the encouragement of “making wise choices.” Ever since she’s been a tiny girl and could understand, Roo was given two choices. They both ended with Daddy winning out (duh) but she got to choose between the “hard way” and the “easy way.”
As she got older, the choices got more complex and her own preferences were worked into the processing. Teaching my kid reasoning and rationality. Sadly, this would make us rebels in today’s world. As I say to the girls, just because you want it isn’t good enough. Figure out how to get it.
Well, two days ago, while trying for something, I gave Maddy her options. Then I asked her for something in return so that she understood she had to make the tough call.
Now, we’ve been trying to get her to stop sleeping with the hall light on and go back to sleeping like a big girl (it’s a minor issue for now but we’re trying to nudge her back along). I had recently won the battle.
And then, in the middle of this negotiation, she put it back on the table and looked me in the eye and made it clear that if I wanted her to give in on one count, the hall light went back on for that night.
I was so proud. And then the negotiations were undercut by Agent Bun and Little Kim Jong–Roo got her way for an extra night.
But boy, I’m proud that my five year old knows how to bring it in a haggling session.
Love Note to the Future
So the basic lesson is, I need to stop underestimating the impact I have on the kids. (This does not diminish Agent Bun’s role at all, either. But this blog is about my reflections on my own part of it.) I’m creating two people who, after I’ve been judged at the Pearly Gates, will bear the indelible influence of my sense of humor and attitude.
So, I hope the Future appreciates that. It’s my gift to it.