That’s the million dollar question for parents isn’t it? We all wonder if we’re raising our kids to be good people. My son is 2.5 years old so really it’s hard to ascertain an answer to that question. It’s not like he can go out and volunteer at a soup kitchen or donate to charity (although I think the kid’s got more money than I do nowadays). His verbal skills are rapidly improving but I can’t exactly sit down with him and have a heart-to-heart about becoming an upstanding human being.
At this age parents do what they can and hope for the best. We stress the importance of “please” and “thank you.” We teach him the early stages of responsibility by making him clean up his toys. Will doesn’t have any siblings so we preach gentleness and compassion by having him treat the dog and cats with respect.
Sometimes he gets it, but let’s face it: he’s two! Which means half the time I’m met with pouting, whining and toddler attitude. It’s those moments, amidst all the frustration and perceived failure, that I desperately wonder if any of the things we’re trying to teach him are sinking in.
Yesterday I got my first answer.
I love winter. I know I live in a vacation community filled with sand, summer and ocean waves, but I’ll take the cold and the snow every single day of the week. But one of the few drawbacks of this frigid season is the shortened daylight hours. By the time I pick Will up from school and then pull into our driveway, it’s dark out.
Will is not a fan of the dark.
Every single day since we turned the clocks back, Will has cried when I turn off the car because he doesn’t want to get out in the dark. And every single day, I tell him the same thing. “It’s OK buddy. You don’t have to be scared. I’m with you. I’ll never leave you alone and I’ll always protect you. You’ll be fine, I promise.” Then we walk hand-in-hand (or if he’s really having a rough day I’ll carry him) up our walk and into our house.
We repeated the same routine yesterday but when I went to turn on the light the bulb blew. Knowing Will doesn’t like the dark, I bolted for the pantry to get a new light bulb and frantically started to change it because I feared a massive meltdown from Will.
But instead of a meltdown, he melted my heart.
While I was changing the bulb, Will picked up two of his favorite toys — Mama Duck & Baby Duck. One is a larger pink duck (Mama) and the other is a small yellow one (Baby). As I finished screwing in the light bulb I heard Will’s soft, small voice speaking in hushed tones. Before flicking on the light, I listened out of curiosity and marveled at what I heard.
“It’s OK guys. You no be scared. I protect you & no leave you ‘lone. I pomise, you be fine.”
He was whispering reassurances to his ducks and protectively clutching them close to his body. And doing so affectionately using the very words I utter to soothe him. I think some of the sawdust from our flooring work must still be in the air at our house, because I suddenly had something in my eye.
He might’ve been reassuring his ducks, but the end result was the affirmation as a parent that the positive things we bombard him with on a daily basis are actually sinking in.
And that’s ducky.