I just finished reading one of my birthday present books, a Calvin and Hobbes 10th Anniversary. Bill Watterson is a genius, seriously.
Since I don’t yet have Nicholeen’s almost-400 page parenting book, I have to take parenting lessons from Watterson (who, at the time of putting the book together, said he didn’t have any kids.).
There was a strip where Hobbes broke his dad’s binoculars and he felt really, really bad (not a common feeling for the boy). Really bad. Finally he told his dad, who freaked out, and then in a show of fatherly love, forgave his son and told him it wasn’t that big a deal.
“Really?” sniffled Calvin…. expecting worse. His dad said something like “yeah, in the big picture, binoculars is nothing – I’m sure in a few years you’ll wreck my car :s”
I was able to have this discussion with my 8 year old son… he was doing an experiment with the microwave and placed a hot plate on the table. You know, the table with the BRAND NEW table cloth.
I wasn’t there, but I heard him trudge down to my basement office and he came in with a really, realy LONG face. Almost in tears (just like Calvin).
He was holding said hot plate. On one side was the experiment (a totally melted candy cane). On the other said of the plate was part of the brand new table cloth, which had melted.
Poor kid. He ruined mom’s new table cloth.
“That’s okay,” I told him.
He said it looks horrible, and would only look good if we put something on it to cover it up (like, forever).
I suggested we put a dollar bill there…. that would cover up the spot.
I hugged him, and as he was walking back up, shoulders drooping, I said:
“Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll do worse things than that! Does that make you feel better?”
He nodded, murmured yes, and then went upstairs.
Thank you Bill Watterson – I’m an awesome father 🙂
I wonder what Nicholeen would have suggested?
I’ll tell you what Nicholeen would have done. She would have hugged her child, and praised him for having the courage to come tell her the truth.
Then she would have gone downstairs to see exactly how it happened. After completely understanding, she would have said, “It could have happened to anybody…next time make sure you don’t have anything around accept the ingredients to your experiment.” Then I would have hugged him again and encouraged him to go self report to his mother too.
I would come with him to self report because I know it would be a hard thing for him to do, and then I would give my (wife in this case 😉 a look that said, “be sure to understand him, he needs assurance.”
After he self reported I would praise him again for choosing the right thing and then have a quick talk with him about how much better he feels for choosing to report his mistakes.
In short my interaction with my child would be less about the tablecloth and more about how my son could grow from this experience, and the things he has learned.
Jason, I think you did good with your son! The only problem with the Calvin story is that the dad freeked out first. I am glad to see you didn’t do that part of it. You took the good and left the rest.
Freeking out when a child tells the truth is what they are afraid of. If we show them that it is always safe to talk to us, then the lines of communication will stay open and the trust in the family relationships will create a strong, happy family.
By the way, I am glad to see you are excited about my book. Yours is in the mail as we speak. I put it in a few days ago. 🙂 Enjoy!
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