My son started kindergarten this year and right away my ego was put to the test.
You see, I grew up as a perpetual rule follower. If there was a gold star anywhere to be found, I figured out a way to earn it.
(There was even a brief moment when my parents attempted to teach us table manners by filling a cup-per-kid with dimes and removing one coin each time they caught us using bad manners. Which caused me to sit in perfectly-still silence, barely daring to take a bite of food for fear of doing it too loud and, God forbid, risk loosing a single dime. Eventually my parents had to forfeit the plan so I wouldn’t starve to death in the mean time.)
But I digress, the current issue was this: one of my son’s teachers sends home “Good Behavior” tickets when she catches her students performing exemplary behavior.
The first few days of school my son left school crying that he didn’t receive any such tickets, and if I’m being honest, I was pretty devastated too.
He quickly got over it.
However, his mother did not.
Why wasn’t he getting a ticket? What was I doing wrong? (Man, I have a talent for spinning every issue into somehow being about me.)
I hesitated to ever mention these coveted tickets to my son because I could tell from the get-go that most of me wanted the ticket for my own encouragement, and not my son’s. (See, you are a good mom. Your boy got a ticket to prove it.)
Now of course I want Cyclone to be a well behaved child, but I do not want him to be so motivated by praise, (like I was) that it paralyzes him of somehow turns him into a puppet.
I don’t want him so motivated by rules that he loses his spunk, his wild side, his joy. (I do not want my son to be immobilized by fear at the dinner table, because that is seriously ridiculous.)
After all, I married a man who probably NEVER received praise for following the rules in his life.
I fell hard for a man who has his bad-boy side still perfectly in tack.
There is literally zero chance that my husband would choose hunger over bad manners at the dinner table.
And I love him for it.
ANYHOW!! I made the choice to not pressure my boy to get this allusive ticket. Everyday I asked how school was, internally biting my metaphorical nails in the hopes that he’d have good news.
And while I always made sure he never got any negative warnings, I bit my tongue before I’d ask him about the ticket.
It wasn’t easy. I confessed my insecurities about this behavior award to just about anyone who would listen.
And then, FINALLY, after a months worth of school days, my boy had a surprise!
He got the ticket!
Without my pestering, and despite my anxious fears that he never would.
My wild-little Cyclone-boy earned himself a reward for good behavior.
And we celebrated.
With new legos, of course.
But we had a bit of fun first.
I have been blessed with a very fun husband, who is helping and encouraging me in our attempts to raise a very fun boy.
A fun, wild, (and thankfully well-behaved) little boy.