|Children learn what they live
There is an open invite policy at our house, which we call Willow Hill. If my car is in the driveway, come on in. The house may need vacuuming, I may ask you to unload the dishwasher, but ďmi casa es su casa. In English, my house is your house. I will always throw on a pot of coffee, a cuppa tea, and if weíre about to eat, in the true Italian fashion taught by my mom and grandma, you will be invited to share the meal, regardless of how soon dinner is about to be served after you have arrived.
The same policy goes for Ant and Allie Roseís friends. At any given time we might find ourselves descended upon by a bunch of teenaged boys, raiding my fridge, logging onto our computers or crashing on my couch. Iíve watched these kids grow up, and it is as though they are my own sons. Now the same is happening with Allie Rose and her friends. Instead of two kids calling me mom, Iíve got anywhere from three to eight kids singing that song.
I love the fact the kids feel at home here; the fact they respect me enough and like me enough to call me mom. This is something I dreamed about when my own were young. I prefer everyone hanging at our house even if it means extra food shopping or driving kids home late at night. Theyíre safe here, and not out doing drugs or drinking or walking the streets.
My relationship with my kids and their friends is a high point in my life. The way we communicate is something I work hard at every day. Sure we donít always see eye to eye, and when we donít we all strive to resolve the issue as peacefully as possible. Granted, sometimes it is less peaceful than other times, but we never go to bed angry, and we always remember to say ďI love you.Ē
I think parents forget that children learn what they live. I believe they tend to emulate their parents, so itís important to act the way we want our children to act in certain circumstances. Itís just as important to remind them verbally if they donít act as they should. The way we communicate our concerns, our passions, our anger, the way we treat others; all of this is more of a teaching guide than any health class or lecture can provide.
Maybe its just a sign of old age, but lately Iím hearing a lot about how our youths have little regard for others at times. I myself have had to confront a few kids at recent school functions who were talking during public performances, instead of remaining quiet so as not to disturb others. But when I look around, I notice it is not just the kids. Adults behave just as rudely. Children learn what they live. How can we blame our youth when our adults are just as wrong?
Last week we were insane enough to agree to take Allie Rose and her friends to the midnight release of the DVD, Twilight. After arriving at 10:30 p.m., we found out where the line was going to form, then took turns standing next to the cart while the others walked around. By 11:30 the line was 100 deep at least. Right around that time a mother and three elementary-aged kids sidled up past us on line as the kids started talking to my daughter and her friend. The people behind us were upset, believing we were letting people cut. When I explained I didnít know the lady, I was told as first in line I should tell her not to cut.
So I did, even though I hate confrontation. She responded by looking me straight in the eye to inform me she had not cut. When I pointed out we were there since 10:30 p.m., and the people behind me were also there at that time, she said she had been there also. That incited the woman behind me, and the two got into a verbal fisticuffs that left me wondering if I should forsake my place in line and take cover.
The incident ended, but the woman held her ground and refused to move to the end of the line.
Yes, there were plenty of DVDs to go around, and I probably would have avoided asking her to move if I had not been prompted by others. But the fact remains that this womanís actions taught the children in her care dishonest behavior is acceptable if the end justifies the means.
A third incident that leaves me wondering about the lessons we teach our kids happened at a chinese food restaurant in Herkimer. A man, well known in the community, came in and began chiding the three year old daughter of the owners for not speaking English. The grandmother, who spoke little English as well, came and scooped up the little girl, who was visibly upset by the way the man was speaking to her. The man then looked at the older woman and chastised her, saying in effect, if you live here and own a business here and take my money, you have to speak English. His tone was rude and condescending and he came across as just down right mean.
When did it become acceptable to be rude in public? The incident written about by Bruce Watson last week regarding the sports team in McDonaldís underscores this concern. We are our childrenís first teachers. What we teach them will be carried on for the rest of their lives. If we teach respect in the home, if we teach compassion, honesty, integrity, those are the characteristics they will exhibit out of the home.
But if we offer as an example deceit, disrespect, arrogance and rudeness, where are they going to learn anything else?
Parents, take a look at how you interact with your children. Then ask yourself, if you saw kids acting like this in public how you look at them? If you interact positively with your children there will be a better chance that when your child goes out in the world that is how they will treat others.
Yes, life is for living, but itís also for loving. So live it. And love it.