I've heard people say they'd do anything for their kids, they love them so much. But, as the mom of Affluenza has shown us, that is stupid.
I absolutely love my kids. And if they were faced with jail time, I might help them flee the country. Jail is a terrible place. But the time to do anything and everything for your kids is when they are young. And by anything and everything, I mean take care of them, spend time with them, show them that there are consequences for their actions, and teach them not to be a jerk.
Today at the park B was chasing lP and a newfound friend. He was being an alligator. His little 2 year old legs churning as he clapped his arms open and closed. I was seriously impressed at his coordination. After a while the newfound friend got scared. She was hiding behind her grandma. So I told B that she didn't like it. I asked him if he wanted me to chase him. I chomped my arms at him. He was scared. So now he understood how the little girl felt. Going forward, I reminded him not to chase her. And when he did, I stopped him.
This small moment was a step in teaching B about consent. Consent with a capital C is really about common etiquette applied to sex. If someone doesn't want what you offer, that is their right.
I think of school, and group situations in general. Even outside the egregious situations of bullying, there are so many situations where children are taught that it's ok to force themselves on other people. Kids have to put up with the jerk on the bus. Kids have to put up with people cutting in line, or stealing toys on the playground. Students have to put up with group work when other kids aren't pulling their share of the load. And if they don't like it, they're wussies. Great. Thanks school.
Certainly in life, we do have to drive in the lane. We have to pay for the food at the store. We can't just do whatever we want all the time. But we don't have to put up with being abused. When I hear kids saying "You have to..." I cringe. When I hear Dora and Diego saying "There's only one way to..." I remind my children that there is never just one way.... Well, except for salvation...
M loves to climb. She climbs up the poles of the swing set. Today she was climbing next to a woman pushing her child in the baby swing. I tried 2 times to tell her to get down. I've told her in the past not to climb next to people because I feel like even if she doesn't fall on them, it makes people nervous. And that's rude. I try to teach the kids that their enjoyment should not come at the expense of other people's comfort. So after she seemed to see me and acknowledge that I had told her to get down, she dangled by her arms and moved to the support closer to the woman! I lost it then and yelled, YELLED, for her to get down. Then I was embarrassed for yelling. Yelling was more likely to make her fall, the very thing I wanted to avoid... So I told her to go to the car and we left the park.
I love my children. They are a joy to me. I love it when people tell me how well behaved they are. I hope they love that too.