Saturday, February 6, 2010

"Wish I Were 2 Again"

A few weeks ago, I made the following comment to my 16-year-old and 22-year-old kids: “Hey, if you two are really good, I’ll let you help me clean the garage today”.

Well, as you might have guessed, the two whippersnappers gave me the “Yeah, right” look and laughed. I told them that the line would have worked years ago when they were young and impressionable ……. well, maybe not, as I then recalled this story from our younger family days on a summer day when my daughter was only 3-years-old:

During a family camping trip, my wife and I, along with her parents and adult brother, as well as our 3-year-old daughter and 6-month-old son were headed from the car to the beach. As was usually the case, traveling to the beach with the aforementioned group meant taking everything that we owned (at least it seemed like it!), seemingly including the kitchen sink!

As a result, with the plethora of chairs, coolers, beach toys, goods for the baby, umbrellas, bags of lotion, reading material, and, well you get the idea, we had to temporarily employ our 3-year-old daughter to help with the hauling of goods to the beach.

Of course, the five adults handled the heavy equipment and our baby, so the hauling that our 3-year-old needed to do was not much. In fact, as I recall, I only had her carry some goods to help to teach her that we needed to earn our rewards in life - in this case, the upcoming fun at the beach!

However, as we were walking up the hill on our 300-yard trek to the beach, she began to feel the burden of carrying a couple of items. While walking behind her, I noticed that she began to slow down and that she was struggling. I could also tell that she was close to stopping, crying, and begging for help. Again, her load was not heavy, it just would have been more fun for her to have her dad carry everything while she enjoyed the journey!

In the moments just before she was about to go down for the count, I loudly proclaimed to everybody in our group, “Wow, isn’t she something? She is quite the strong and responsible 3-year-old, carrying those items to the beach and helping the family. I am so proud of her. There is no way that she could have done this last year when she was 2-years-old!!”

I thought that I had engaged in terrific parenting, as I encouraged my daughter, pumped up her self-esteem, and kept her marching toward the goal with confidence. After I finished my words, my daughter stood up a little straighter, walked a little faster, and continued confidently on her journey. Ah yes, parenting at its best, or so I thought!

However, a few steps after I had said, “There is no way that she could have done this last year when she was 2-years-old”, my 3-year-old daughter did not miss a step when she uttered, “Gee, I sure wish that I were 2 again!”

And there you have it! I haven’t been able to use my psychological parenting skills on my kids at all. After all, when a 3-year-old trumps you, it’s time to get some new skills!

So, since that time, I have continued to re-enact that scenario around the house while changing the details, kind of like the garage story! The nice part, though, is that my kids do help, even though my psychological parenting ploys have miserably failed! ...... Or have they???

How about you? Any quick and witty retorts that your kids have uttered in their youth? If so, please pass them along!

It is stories like these that have made involved parenting such a grand reward!

Paul W. Reeves

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