What parent doesn't like having her kids complimented?
"Your son/daughter is so smart/articulate."
"Oh, isn't he/she so cute/adorable/handsome?"
Or the topic of my blog today:
"Our children play well together because your son/daughter is so nice/well-mannered."
I'm blessed to hear all of these compliments about my children, but I have to admit that I'm not always thrilled when I get the "your kid is so nice" spiel. This is hard for me to say given that some parent of one of my kids' friends might be reading this post, but I gotta share this with someone: I don't always like my kids being the nice kids.
Like all parents, you are concerned about who your kids play and interact with, at school, at home in the neighborhood. And you want their friends to be the kind of friends that you would choose for them, right? Well, in my case, I have a son — I call him YPW (young prayer warrior) — who finds "friends" instantly no matter where he is. Once parents meet him, they love him and they want their kids to be friends with him. But what if their kid is not so nice or, even worse, rude and bratty? How do I handle it?
Here's a great, ever-so-common, scenario:
My 6-year-old son is at the park, sees child his age, immediately goes and introduces himself. Child runs in opposite direction screaming or, better yet, doesn't acknowledge my son. My son, determined to have a friend outside of his immediate family, follows the child around and talks to him as if they are already friends. Child goes to parent, parent normally responds, "Honey, he's just trying to be nice."
Uggh. I cringe when I hear it. I say to my son, "Honey, not everyone is as friendly as you are. Give them time and space. Go play and let them come to you when they're ready." But like Elvis, he's left the building somewhere between the words "honey" and "everyone."
So, I step back and continue to observe. There he goes again. Offering to push them on the swing. Asking them to play tag. Wanting them to race to the water fountain. I just can't take it. I think, They're not interested. Move on, man. They're the ones missing out. Just walk away and don't look back. But I can't say that. It makes me appear anti-social or snobbish. So, I sit, stare and stew. Why does my child have to be the nice one?
He's not just like this on the playground.
"Mommy, mommy, guess who has a girlfriend?" (My 4-year-old loves having something on her brother.)
"I don't know, honey, who?" (Ooo…ooo…so easy. Three boys. One is a toddler, one doesn't even want girls in his study group, but I play along.)
"Kiserian." (Immediately, he enters the room with that look, you know, the look some teen gives his parents when they've found a love note in his backpack.)
"So, what's going on with you?"
With a grim stare, he says to his sister, "I told you not to say anything." She smiles that smug smile.
"So, who is this?" Do I sound surprised, shocked? Of course not.
"This girl I met at church. You know the one with the yellow dress who was pointing at me and running away."
"What's her name?"
"I don't know."
"How long have you known her?"
"Just met her today."
Hear the trend?
He's just a love machine. He loves people. He told DH that he should buy me flowers every day because "that's what I'm going to do for my wife." He opens doors, pulls out chairs, and looks for opportunities to help people in and outside of the house. He's generous and considerate. You'd know it after 5 minutes of being around him. It's just how he was created and that's why he's not discouraged when people don't respond to him favorably. I just ignore some rudeness and some age-appropriate selfishness. I can't shelter him from everything. He just loves all people all of the time.
"Five girlfriends, you said? That is over the top. I told you about respect, honor, keeping your hands to yourself, right? Take it slow. You're just six, man."
"But I like the ladies."
Ah, better get my DH to come in on this one.