Many of you commented on me writing back to amazon.com to charge me for the book they'd already refunded. I think I said that when I asked Subvet what he wanted me to do he fed my own words back to me. It's true. The title of this post has been a mantra for me for a long time. Longer than I've had children for sure. Working in the Pediatrician's office I would frequently wonder about parents. Here are a couple of examples that I walked away from asking myself that question.
4 year old boy is in for well-check up and shots. Now for those who don't remember, the 4 year visit is the absolute worst in the entire 18 years that we see the kids. It's a very long visit as we have to check hearing and vision as well as all the normal stuff. And it is the only time that a kid gets 4 or 5 shots at the same time, after they're old enough to know what's coming. It's also the last time you get that many shots at once...unless you join the military. Well, shots are (of course) the last thing done before the family leaves. This one not quite cooperative, rather precocious boy had apparently reached his limit (and ours). We had to chase him around the room to get him on the table for the shots, then, as we're giving them with mom leaning across his trunk and holding his hands (SOP) he yells at the TOP of his lungs. "Get the F... off of me!!!" to his mother. Here's the important part. She did nothing, she said nothing. Now, it's a good thing that I don't live in California, where they're trying to outlaw spanking, because if MY boy (who's now 3 1/2) yells anything close to that to me. As soon as the nurses are done I'll be yanking him up off that table and whipping his butt for him real good. But at the time I was childless and I just shook my head and thought, what did she just teach her son? It's OK to say anything to anyone when you're in a stressful situation??
I get a phone call from a mom wanting her kindergartner to be seen by the MD. OK, why? This is 2-3 weeks after the start of school. Her school just hired an additional teacher and has taken kids from each of the existing classes to make up a class for the new teacher, paring down the size of each of the existing classes. Her little darling girl was the only one from that particular class chosen to go to the new teacher's class. Now, mom is apparently on the rampage. She thinks it's SOOO UNFAIR that her little darling has to change classes "after she just bonded with the old teacher and now she knows none of the kids in the new class." Mom has had shouting matches (she told me this) with the principal over this as well as the school counselors. Darling girl doesn't want to go to school (go figure) and is complaining of stomachaches every morning. Mom wants the child examined by the MD to prove that it's psychological and to have the MD write a note saying that it's detrimental to the child's health to change classes and she must stay with the teacher and kids "she's already bonded with." What do I say? Sure, whatever, make an appointment. But what do I think?? REALLY LADY, What are you teaching your daughter? Are you teaching her that things do not always go according to how you expect and that every change has the potential to bring new and exciting things into your life? Are you teaching her that adaptability is an asset in this uncertain world? NO, you just taught her that if you stamp you foot long enough and scream loud enough to enough people, not to mention holding your breath till you turn blue, you'll get exactly what you want. Now, as a mom I understand her sadness for her child being placed in a difficult situation.
But (and this is my point) every situation that our children face is a "teachable moment." It is up to us as parents to not only recognize the moment to teach, but also be very mindful of what lessons we are teaching.