I have many worries for my daughters – will they be good people, will they help others, will they do well in school, will they never live in my basement, will they have a good haircut that matches their face, and of course will they please never wear capri pants. You know, the typical mom worries that we all have.
My biggest worry is that they will become doormats, and if they do it is completely all my fault. I hear the things I repeat to them over and over: “Serve and yours will come.” “Never be first in line.” “Share everything.” “Use your manners.” “Offer up yours to a friend.” “Look for people who are sitting alone.” “Wait for others.” “Never take the first piece.” “Never take the last piece.” “Always stop to help.” “Be the first to ask a friend what is wrong.” “Walk away from violence, but protect a friend.”
I mean sure, I tell them that no one is allowed to touch them without their permission or get in their space, and that no one has the right to hurt them. But mainly I tell them to wait their turn before standing their ground.
My advice works perfectly at home as, and I know this sounds weird, my children do not fight. They share their toys, and take turns watching shows, they play together perfectly, and serve each other meals.
In theory it seems my advice would make the world a perfect place to be – but since it’s not possible to mother all of the world – my advice mainly falls flat because sometimes you just have to stand up for yourself.
Which I honestly never have done. So lately I had been trying to figure out how to give my children better advice…. “How to stand up for yourself politely, but still mean business.”
As it turns out that maybe they’ve already figured that out all on their own.
Another parent mentioned that his first grader got upset a few weeks ago by what a fourth grader said or did on the bus, and he wondered if my kids had said anything to me. He said that this boy had written some bad words on the bus seat and then was showing the other kids the words and was saying the words to the littler kids. His daughter came home and of course asked what the words meant. The parents just kind of let it go as annoying but harmless kid stuff, but recently asked their daughter again if he was still doing it, and she told him that he just suddenly stopped and now rides the bus very quietly, which is weird because even before the incident, he was a very loud kid.
So yesterday I asked Eloise if anyone ever did anything on the bus that bothered her or the other kids.
“Well, no not really. Just typical silly boy stuff sometimes, but I just tell them that they are annoying and to stop.” She responded.
Has anyone even said bad words on the bus?
Pause. “Well, yes, Michael*** was writing really bad words on the seats for awhile and then saying them too. And then he would ask the little kids to listen to him saying the bad words.”
Did you tell him to stop or go to the bus driver?
“Yes, I did both. I told him to stop and I told the bus driver. The bus driver told me to go sit down and didn’t listen to me at all..and I told him two different times about it.”
You know you can tell you teacher or principal too, right? And me. We can make something inappropriate stop on the bus.
“I know. But I already took care of it.”
What do you mean by that?
“Well, I told Michael that he wasn’t allowed to say those things or write those things or ruin property like that. That I wasn’t going to allow it. And then I got really close to his face and I looked right in his eyes and I told him that from now on I was the boss of him and since I was the oldest of the 1st-4th graders in the front of the bus, that I was in charge and we weren’t going to listen to him be mean anymore, and that I would protect all the kids on the bus before he hurt them or say things that were bad, and he was to sit there and say nothing for the rest of the school year..because if he didn’t – well he would have to answer to me. And now all I have to do is look at him and he behaves.”
Well next time, if the bus driver won’t help you, you should really tell me and your teacher, okay.
“Well this time I’ve got this, Mom.”
And I think she really does.
***Not his real name.