I don’t believe in having a parenting philosophy, because if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that children are not consistent and no matter how many books (or blogs or message boards) you read, they will find ways to surprise you.
But one semi-philosophy I have, one guiding belief, is in disappointment. It’s OK to experience disappointment on occasion. It’s good to not get everything you want. You’re not going to be the best at all you attempt, and learning how to respond to to that graciously will serve you well.
I blew this lesson last week.
My son is drawn to a boy at his day care who (on good days) is a bit bossy and (on bad days) a bit of a bully. We hear stories of bad language, roughhousing and more from my son, all of which we take with a grain of salt because, well, he’s not even 4 yet. But Friday, as we pulled away from day care, my son told me this kid had taken my son’s show-and-tell, a beloved toy helicopter, and chucked it over the fence.
Day care was closed, son was snapped into his car seat, and I started to drive away, thinking the lesson here was that it stinks to lose a toy but you need to learn responsibility. Go through the disappointment and stop letting certain kids take advantage of you at show and tell.
But. The crying.
I made a U-turn, returned to the scene of the crime and tried to grill my son on where exactly they were standing when the copter took flight. This did not help (something about a tunnel, a door, not that door and a guess). I tried. I drove slowly, turned around, drove by again, scanned the ground and nothing.
We drove away. There were whimpers this time, and I felt awful. Felt like all I was doing was punishing my kid for something a bully did.
Before I knew it, we were at Target and I was looking through all the bins and racks for a similar helicopter. Which I found. Not the same one, but close enough, the last helicopter surely in the whole freaking Target.
I bought it. He was happy. Three days later, he was even happier because daddy managed to track down the original lost helicopter and return it to him.
And now he has two helicopters. And no lessons.
I’m OK with that.