Over the holiday vacation I had the distinct pleasure of watching Kathy and Steve’s kids. Just in case you don’t know this magnificent family, Tela is 5, Sadie is 4 (they are 11 months apart) and Zach is 11 months old. The entire day was glorious (pure joy), however one specific moment struck me and when I shared it with Vicki, she encouraged me to share my story with the other parents who read our blog.
Here it is:
We were getting dressed to go outside and play in the snow and Tela and Sadie wanted the same thing. I don’t remember exactly what it was maybe a pair of skates or a hat or mittens, it really does not matter, what transpired is the important part.
Tela said, “I want that.”
And Sadie said, “I want that.”
It was quiet for a few seconds, all 8 of us sitting, waiting to see what would happen next. We have had enough cousins and kids in our house that all of us knew the atmosphere could shift from peaceful to unpleasant in one short second.
Finally,Sadie says, “Ok Tela, you can have it and then I’ll use it when you are done.”
Tela replies, ”I love you Sadie”
And Sadie says, “I love you too, Tela.”
Fast forward these Parenting On Track™ kids 9 years and look at some other Parenting On Track™ kids I know.
We are at a Christmas celebration with my husband’s extended family.
Jack (14) and Amy (12) are sharing a recliner and Liz (8) and Jess (5) are snuggled in the couch so closely together, it’s difficult to discern how many people are in that clump of arms and legs. They are all intently hanging on every word their Uncle, who just flew in from CA, is saying.
My husband’s cousin points to the older two and says,
”Don’t you know brothers and sisters that age don’t sit in the same room with each other, let alone the same chair?” He points to the younger two and says, “Girls that age are usually fighting with each other, they look like best friends. How do you do it?”
I shrug my shoulders and give the standard reply that I had nothing at all to do with it. He smiled and said, “Wish we all knew the secret. You are doing something.”
As I sat watching Kathy’s kids interact with each other, I realized, yes, we (parents) do have something to do with it and it starts at a very early age. If we are mindful and intentional parents when kids are 2, 3, 4, and 5, we start preparing them.
Over the years, I have experienced many a rolling eye, because I ignored the snarled hair or the mismatched shoes. I have felt many judgmental sideways glances when I decided to walk away from a tantrum instead of sending the crying child to timeout. I have heard not-so-subtle scoffs when I share that I do not sit down with my children every night and make them do their homework.
It took a while, but I am finally able to relax in the confidence that I am preparing myself and my children for departure- for life from 18-80. While my kids are young and living with me, my parenting choices have a purpose.
After spending time with Kathy’s kids, I know what connects the two of us. We are both committed to raising independent, thinking children. We trust this will give them a distinct advantage in managing their young adult lives with confidence and enthusiasm. Yes, it can be inconvenient at times, but after being in the room with a 3 and 4 year old who know how to solve problems, appreciate each other, move the action forward and show gratitude for a fun day spent at my house (without being prompted by their parents), I know what I know. This program delivers a powerful punch.
I know this does not happen by accident; these kids are being trained and are given the opportunity to practice over and over and over again.
Want to know the best news? It’s not a secret!
The Parenting On Track™ program exists to show every parent how. All it takes is a decision. A decision to invite kids to participate in their lives at the earliest of ages. The results are worth every cavity, every missed bus, every broken dish, every lost mitten, and every choice made-no matter the immediate outcome.
So thanks Kathy, thanks for sharing your beautiful, wonderful, capable, confident, resilient, thoughtful, joyous, flexible little babes with me- I so look forward to the next time.
If you are interested in learning more about the Parenting On Track™ program please visit our samples page at http://www.parentingontrack.com.