Saturday, October 17, 2009

What Does 'Sissy' Want?

From the time of my oldest son's birth (he is the middle of three children) through about the time that he was two years old or so, he always copied his “sissy”. Whatever “sissy” did, he wanted to do, as well.

While some of this was cute and while all of it was done in a loving manner, it was also decided that he need to stop copying "sissy" and make his own way in the world. For example, as he always placed his restaurant order after “sissy” ordered hers, his meal order was always identical. In fact, when we asked him what he wanted to eat, he would always respond by saying, “What does sissy want?”

The first order of business was to get him to order his own meal and to be his own man! Before we left for the restaurant, I told him that he would be ordering first; he was to get whatever he wanted; and that “sissy” would place her order after he was done. I also coached him on being his own man, making his own decisions, and doing what he believed to be best for himself. After all, all people were different and, as such, there was no point in copying others just for the sake of copying.

After being seated at the restaurant, the waitress asked my son for his order. He proudly ordered spaghetti and salad with Italian dressing! Wow, quite an order for a 2-year-old to place and a gigantic leap for not copying “sissy”!!

Of course, after “sissy” placed her order for steak and a baked potato, my son considered changing his order. We told him absolutely not. He had ordered spaghetti and salad, because it was his favorite. Copying “sissy” would serve no purpose.

We quickly noticed a sense of empowerment and a sense of relief, as my son had now stepped out into the world and had made his first meal decision!!

The send of empowerment made sense. The sense of relief, I believe, came from the fact that he had entered a brave, new world and all was still O.K.!! He had learned that he could make his own decision with a stranger (the waitress) and everything would still be just fine.

From that day forward, he began to make his own decisions for his life’s direction. For example, when “sissy” chose to explore dancing, he chose to play guitar. When she chose to play clarinet, he chose to play the sax. When she chose dolls and makeup, he chose baseball and basketball.

Ah yes, an independent young man – completely prepared for the harsh realities of life! The independent decision-making, started when he was 2-years-old at a Bill Knapps’ Restaurant, has stayed with my son since that time.

However, while in high school, he decided that hew wanted to get a job to tuck away a few bucks and to earn some money for some of life’s simple pleasures. He wasn’t sure where to get his first job to work with/for people who did not love him or care for him, so ……… he asked “sissy” if she could get him a job at her place of work!

Yes, some habits, while put away neatly for several years, never quite die completely! “Sissy” came to the rescue and got him a job at her place of work.

As our two young adult children, formerly 2- and 5-years-old, walked out of the house on his first night of work, dressed in matching polo shirts and khaki pants, we couldn’t help but think back to when they were little and my son repeatedly said, “What does ‘sissy’ want?”

Yes, our oldest son has become quite independent and a young man who is capable of making his own decisions for his life. But, when a little trepidation sets in on an issue, such as getting his first job, it’s nice to know that he still turns to “sissy” and she triumphantly comes through!

Several years from now, I can just imagine this conversation:
Dad: “Well, my oldest son, to which nursing home are you sending me?”
Oldest Son: Well, what does sissy want?”

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!! Parenting – gotta love it!

How about you? Does one of your siblings copy off of another one? Have you experienced good or poor results? Have you attempted to have the copier make his/her own decisions? Write back and let me know!

Paul W. Reeves

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