Earlier this year my husband and I were out running errands. While we were out I mentioned that I needed to go to the library. As I was looking for what I wanted to check out my husband took our then 15-month old son into the children’s library to play at the activity table they have there.
I was frustrated to learn that what I wanted to check out was currently unavailable so I went in the children’s library to let my husband know I was finished. I walked in to find my son interacting and sharing puzzle pieces with another little boy around his age. My husband was sitting at the table with them and smiling as he watched their interaction. It is always so cute to see our son playing with other toddlers since currently he is the only child. As I was standing there watching I noticed a young woman sitting on the couch that was located a few feet away from the activity table preoccupied with her laptop. I assumed this was the little boy’s mother as she would look up from her laptop every now and then to see what he was doing, smile and continue on her laptop.
After a few minutes we told our son to say “bye” to his new friend because we had to go. He waved and took my hand as we started towards the door. His new little friend (who turned out to be 18-months) followed and his mother got up from the couch to get him. As she grabbed his hand to head back to the couch she said to him, “see he does’t want to play with you because you are bad”. I was totally shocked. The little boy was not acting badly. He interacted very nicely with our son and they were a pleasure to watch.
Why had she spoken such mean words to her son? As parents we have the ability to speak success or failure into our children. It is our job to teach, support, and encourage our children. I strongly believe in reprimanding a child that is behaving inappropriately, but that was not the case in this situation. As I headed for the door my heart felt heavy. I imagined the future for this little boy. How would you expect a young man growing up to act who is told he is “bad” even when doing nothing wrong. I imagined a young man who never feels good enough because even at his best he gets criticized. A young man who eventually gives up trying because he feels it would make no difference. The type of young man we see many times in our communities.
It is not up to teachers, community workers, coaches or whoever else to to speak success into our children. It is great and wonderful for our kids to have support outside of the home but it needs to start in the home. Children deserve to get encouragement from their parents. It is our responsibility.
I should have turned around and said something to that mother. I should have said that her son was behaving very well. I understand he was only 18-months and perhaps he did not understand what his mother was saying to him. However, there will come a time when he will understand and then what?