The Hubster and I were taking Tucker to the high school for a chance to try out band instruments. Perri had stayed after school for band and then cheer practice, so she met us there. While we stood in the long line of parents patiently awaiting our turn to speak with the powers that be, Perri sat down on the risers to talk to a fellow band member. I walked over to them to ask Perri a question and that young man also joined in the conversation. He was very friendly and personable, had a good sense of humor and impressed me with the fact that he was willing to carry on a conversation with a... *gasp*... PARENT! ; )
I knew this young man's family but had never met him. I used to see his parents during Little League season when his younger brother played baseball with Tucker and always thought they were very nice folks. So a few days later when I ran into his mom at a high school football game, I made sure to tell her what a polite young man she was raising. I told her how refreshing it was to meet a high school student who is willing and able to carry on a conversation with an adult, and that he seemed to be a very bright young man.
And then a few days later...
Tucker moved down off the bleachers to stand by the fence where he could watch the band more closely. We were only 4 or 5 rows up the bleachers and it's a small-town high school stadium. I wasn't afraid for him to be down there alone, even with the large crowd in attendance. He was always within my line of sight.
And then suddenly, so was a whirling dervish of a little boy who had been running wildly all evening. He appeared out of nowhere and went barreling directly into the side of a large garbage can that was overflowing. The little guy hit the ground rolling, got himself up and was acting silly, as if it had made him dizzy. He laughed and then continued making his way through the crowd, never even pretending to pick up any of the garbage he had spilled.
Tucker looked at the kid as he ran off and then looked at the garbage littering the walkway along the fence where he was standing. Then he did something that made this momma very proud.
He started picking up the empty paper plates, the dirty napkins and the smashed cups. He kept at it for a as long as it took him to get the area clean and all the trash returned to the can. Then he turned, leaned on the fence and started watching the band's performance once again. He truly thought nothing of it. He saw something that needed done and he did it. Simple as that.
The next thing I know, there is a lady standing beside Tucker, leaning down to talk to him so he could hear her over the crowd. I saw him turn and point to me and the lady walked to where we were seated. She told Tucker and then us how she appreciated what he had done, cleaning up after that little boy ran off and left such a mess, and that she admired him for doing it without even being asked.
Yes, it was a very proud momma moment. : )
Now I suppose you're wondering what Tale #1 really has to do with Tale #2. Well, let me tell ya all about it.
Just before that football game had gotten started, my friend Kevin and I were discussing the way things have changed; the way that people have changed. We talked about good people who perform good deeds. We talked about good people who don't really try all that hard. We talked about how the common courtesies we were taught as kids are no longer quite so common. We also talked about how many of today's kids have never witnessed that type of behavior and will very likely never learn it on their own. And we talked about how truly sad that makes us. We are both trying hard to raise our own kids to be courteous and friendly. We teach them the value of giving back to their communities and reaching out to those less fortunate. And we mostly try to teach them these things by example. It's easy enough to talk the talk, but much more effective to walk the walk.
I related Tale #1 to Kevin. I told him that I think it is just as important to praise the good we see
in today's kids as it is to call them out on poor judgement. In the last few years I have tried very hard to look for the good in even the most rotten of kids, and to then make mention of it. You never know when a kind word from you may be the only kind word that child hears. Also, to a struggling parent, such comments may bring a great deal of comfort when they're doubting their effectiveness. As a mom I know how much I like to be informed of the good my kids do. And honestly, if you aren't doing or saying something to make a positive difference in someone's day....well, what's the point?
So an hour and a half after Kevin and I had this conversation there is a lady I don't know taking the time to praise my child, to tell me how much she appreciates his actions, and that I should be proud of him.
Just exactly how cool is that? : )
We can make a difference, folks. It isn't going to happen all at once and there are going to be times when we don't see results right away....or even at all. But we can't let that stop us from trying to do what's right, especially when it comes to today's youth. They need encouragement. They crave positive attention.
So many of them don't get that at home. And you may even find that you are struggling for something good to say to or about a kid who seems to be doing all he can to make life difficult. But please hang in there. Keep looking for the good and be sure you point it out when you find it. Just a little praise can make a kid realize that doing the right thing is not so hard after all. And it makes parents like me realize that all the effort we put into raising our kids to be kind, caring, productive members of society....well, it's all very worthwhile. : )