Monday, October 7, 2013

Caught in the Act

Everybody has a way of responding when they are caught doing something wrong.  For some, like me, the response is defensiveness almost immediately followed by an apology.  Once I get over the embarrassment of being called out, I want things to be smoothed over.  My oldest is very much like me.  He'll open with a, "But Mommy!  I didn't mean to hit him in the head with the golf ball!  It was an accident!"  Then he'll quickly admit his fault in the matter and come to me with his tail between his legs.  My youngest has a different response entirely and it's gotten me thinking about how I will be able to manage it in the years to come.

When we were in Ohio, they had a little sand table to play with.  They had a set of cars they would race around the sand making race tracks, train tracks and playing hide and seek with the cars.  When these games proved uninteresting or when his brother did something to upset him, my youngest would throw sand in the air.  My oldest was clearly his target.  "Drew, keep the sand in the sandbox.  Please don't throw sand at your brother," I would say to him.  Without missing a beat he would freeze and say, "Oh! Kay!" then go back to his business.  Even though my husband, my parents and I must have said the same thing 30 times during the week, my son continued to respond as if he had never heard the rule before.  He was calm, collected and even (dare I say?) thankful for our correction.  He didn't rebel, he didn't act defensive.  It diffused the situation entirely.

While I am very thankful for his kind response, we started joking about the potential of this response when he is a teenager.  "Drew, for the tenth time, you may not take Daddy's car without asking," we will say.  "Oh!  I didn't realize!  Sure, okay.  I won't do it anymore!" he will say.  While I know it would deserve a consequence, the immediate apology is so disarming.  Will he get away with so much more than his brother?  We won't know until we get there.  Until then, we're having fun with this easy and sweet child.  Here's to many years of quick apologies.  I'm hoping, at the very least, that I can begin to learn to do the same.

How do your children react when confronted with wrongdoing?  Do their responses affect the consequences you give them?

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