My seven year old is probably one of the most mellow children I have ever known and I’ve known a lot of children since I work in the childcare profession. When he was about 2 years old, my husband and I thought we really knew how to parent. Ry was the model child for the most part. (Of course, then came along the second child and we realized it was the Ry’s temperament which tricked us into thinking we were good parents and had all of our Sh*t together.) But that’s a different story all together.
Now one would think that having a mellow child is a good thing.. and yes, for the most part it is. Except from time to time, I worry about the world taking advantage of him. Not in a sadistic way or anything, but just that I could easily see him being a kid who gets bullied. And it has happened in very small ways. Rylan is totally the child who will apologize for getting in the way of someone swinging something and hitting him with it. For example, at school Ry was standing with his back to a child who (like kids do) thoughtlessly swung his backpack into the air to try to get it to the backpack location and it promptly hit Ry in the back of the head. Now Ry couldn’t have possibly seen the back pack coming in order to duck, but still, with tears in his eyes from being hit with the backpack, turned to the other child to apologize for being in the way.
So as his mom, I was in a dilemma. Well actually, I was in two. Part of me wanted the other parent to talk to her child about not throwing stuff near other children (didn’t happen) or correct her child (also did not happen.) And then there was the matter of what to say to my child? It’s great that he’s so passive about things, I’m sure that there are a great many things that will help him in in life. But he doesn’t need to be a walking doormat either.
So, the conversation went like this..
Me: Why did you apologize? He hit you.
Ry: I was in the way.
Me: Should he be throwing his backpack?
Ry: Well.. no.
Me: Did you mean to be in the way?
Ry: No, I didn’t see him because he was behind me.
Me: All right, so why did you apologize?
Ry: Because I was in the way.
It’s moments like this, you want to smack your head on the nearest wall. Instead, I leaned down, laughed and gave him a hug. I guess there are just some things which are even harder to teach than manners. I’m hoping that someday, when it really matters, he will be able to stand up for himself and say something isn’t right. But for now, I guess we are just working on letting him know it’s okay to speak his mind, albeit in a polite and situationally appropriate way.
*sidebar: Since I wrote this blog, we have been working on Ry standing up for himself. Mostly this manifests in Ry picking on Jadyn for things legitimate (“He took my train/toy/remote control”) and things not so legitimate (“He’s just annoying me by standing there.”) I guess everyone has to start somewhere.. I just hope Ry knows that Jadyn is just a tad bit more assertive than he is which is fine now that Ry has a significant amount of size on his side. I’m venturing a guess that this encouragement will lead probably to more tears and fights than I may yet be able to predict. Too bad parenthood doesn’t come with the gift of future sight.