Saturday, May 9, 2009

Buggy and His Bug

I get the heebie-geebies from most bugs. I don't want them on me. They gross me out. This is coming from a woman who played with bugs when I was a little girl. I'd collect lightning bugs in jars and catch grasshoppers, hold Earthworms, and I wasn't entirely afraid of the "waterbugs" we'd see outside our apartment building when I was young.

I've always hid my fear of bugs from my son. I did not want him to be unnecessarily afraid of them - especially being a boy! One time, while Joey played in the back yard and I prepared our grill for dinner, a prehistoric-sized grasshopper jumped onto my mid-section. I screamed as if I was being attacked by a T-Rex. When Joey stood up and asked, "What happened, Mommy??", I replied in a shaky voice, "Oh, nothing."

Another time, when Joey was about two, we were outside playing. The beetles - beautiful beetles (I can't believe I said that) that are gold & green - were the most prevalent I'd ever seen. They were flying all over the place, dive-bombing me. Finally, the inevitable happened: One flew into my hair. I flailed my way into the house like a maniac, and it flew out when I did a final, mosh-pit-champion worthy head shake. Whew!

I'm pleased that despite those examples and countless others, Joey is not afraid of bugs. When I saw one of the biggest black beetles I've ever seen in my life stuck on its back in our garage yesterday, Joey claimed it as his pet. He named it Bowser. I was so happy to see Joey picking up the icky black bug and its sticky legs with his bare hands. He put the beetle in an open bag with leaves, dirt, and a little water, then set it on our screened-in porch.

At 6:30 this morning, my husband and I were abruptly awakened by our house security alarm blasting. As I flew in my stupor past Joey's room and saw he wasn't there, I knew he had to have opened the porch door without thinking, to check on his "pet". Later, after I had gone back to bed and got up again, I asked Joey how Bowser is doing. Joey said he could see out the window that Bowser is doing great; he has been having fun "playing with his legs" all morning. I looked out the window onto the porch and saw Bowser Beetle stuck on his back, trying frantically to turn over. I love that 6-year-old, innocent, mind!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

OH! ... You Mean I Need to Teach Him That, Too?

A while back, my brother and his girlfriend stopped by to visit. My brother had a gift for Joey that he was very excited to give him. Joey opened the gift and showed interest by wanting to take it out of the package and prepare it for play, but beyond that enthusiasm, not much else was said. At one point, when Joey left the room for just a moment, my brother's girlfriend said to me, "Pssst... Hey, be sure to have Joey say 'thank you' to your brother."

Wow. I'm so glad you told me that,
I thought to myself, or I wouldn't have known.

Honestly, there really was no irritation on my part; I just threw that in because I've learned from the school of the "Master Sarcaster". I know she was looking out for my brother's feelings. But kids ... well, they're kids ... and some of them feel awkward saying "please" and "thank-you" at times. I actually remember being that way myself as a child. And despite his confidence in communicating with adults and peers, Joey is one of those kids. He knows to say "thank-you", but more often than not, he feels awkward saying it.

We rarely correct Joey in certain areas of behavior or knowledge, and it has served us well. I use that tactic of 'not correcting' in many -but not all- areas of teaching him right from wrong. For one example, speech. He has always communicated well beyond his years, but at times he says a word or phrase incorrectly, just like any other child. We rarely correct him - even when he was a toddler. We find a reason to repeat it back to him in the correct way during the course of our conversation, and he would catch on ... sometimes right away and sometimes many times later. Either way, he learned on his own, and it built his confidence.

So ... why-oh-why don't I do that when it comes to manners?? Because too often, I care too much about what others think. I don't want people to think I don't bother to teach Joey manners. I'd feel embarrassed if I were to allow him to turn the other cheek and not say a word while I am thanking the other person for him. (I even came up with a hand gesture to do as a sign to discreetly remind him; it became a little ridiculous as I struggled to get him to look at me to actually see the reminder!) Instead of allowing Joey to take my lead, following my example once it becomes natural for him, I 'correct' him. And that is usually in front of another person, of course. "What do you say to Mrs. So and So for having you over, Joey?" I'm not doing anyone any favors there - especially Joey! His confidence suffers a bit when I regularly put a tractor-beam on his lack of manners in front of others. What works for some, doesn't work for others ... and that is not how Joey best 'works'.

It took me a few years of lost or forced thank-yous to realize this connection. I then decided to bite my tongue and not prompt him in front of others - no matter how much it embarrassed me to blatantly overlook it! If he missed the opportunity, he would need to call the person afterwards. My brother was my first experiment. This time it failed, despite having talked with Joey about saying 'thank-you' before my brother arrived. But, it will take time and I believe it will eventually succeed. Joey almost always says 'thank-you' at home for the most minor things; I get a "Thank-you, Mommy," if I hand him a pen.

So if you're ever left feeling cut short by a little red-haired boy and his parents, please know he is thankful for your kindness. It will just take a little more time for this guy to say it on his own consistently ... all while I'm turning red ... and doing my best to make an eventual man.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Thinking Thing...

Joey has always had an excellent usage of speech. If he uses or pronounces a word incorrectly, he quickly catches on to the correct way - with one exception ... "Wiln't". Instead of saying "won't", Joey says "wiln't", as in, "I wiln't do that." He has been saying it for years.

A couple months ago, I taught him about contractions and how they are formed. It dawned on me ... the only word out of the common contractions that really makes no sense, is "won't". All other contractions have the main word as it is alone: Should not is shouldn't. Did not is didn't. Can not is can't. Will not is ... won't? Why? It's will not, not wo not. "Wiln't" actually makes sense!

I think my little boy is on to something. :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Kind of Man ARE You?

Recently, I was cleaning up in the kitchen while Joey and his Dad played in the other room. At one point, the play turned to an affection-fest. I could hear David giving Joey kisses all over his face while Joey laughed and soaked up the love for him ... a common thing to see and hear in our house. Don't ever stop doing that, I thought. All too often, Dads and their sons become more reserved in their affection as the child grows older. At an occasion where a Mom and her child would hug, some Dads offer a simple handshake to their son.

The thought took me back years ago, to when I worked the front desk of the busy headquarters for a local home-building company. There was a big, rough, "manly-man" who had worked his way up the ladder and served as VP for the Construction Department. He had different people in to see him on a regular basis for business purposes. One day, another big, rough, "manly-man" came in to see this VP of Construction, offering only his first name for me to announce to the VP. Upon my calling and telling him he had a visitor, he replied enthusiastically, "That's my BABY!!" His son.

After their visit, when he walked his son to the lobby to see him off, they said "I love you" to each other amidst their farewells and gave a quick hug. Mind you, this young man lived on our local campus - he wasn't heading off to war! I stopped the "manly-man" after his son left to mention his open show of affection for his son, and how wonderful it was to see. I learned that was the way it had always been between he and his two sons - even (or ... especially?) during the vulnerable teen years, and in front of their friends. I said to him, "I hope my husband is the same way if we have a boy someday."

A beautiful, casual show of affection between a man and his grown son. It stayed with me all these years. And based on what I witness on a regular basis at home, we're right on track for my hope to come true.