Something Great I Encountered Today

Posted May 8, 2009

Actually, it was yesterday, but…

Okay, so I’m WAY behind on blogging and a number of events are BEGGING to be blogged about, but that will have to wait until I catch up with work.
In the meantime, I wanted to quickly share an experience that I had recently.

I took my kids for a dental cleaning yesterday. While I was waiting for them, I met two remarkable children whose mother (and, I’m sure, father) deserves recognition and admiration.

Anyone who has been around me in public spaces (outside of campus, where the few children we see are exceptional) knows that I LOVE children, but I expect the worst behavior and am rarely surprised. I have watched 3 year old girls hit their mothers, whine, and yell “no” at them repeatedly while the mothers either ignore the behavior or say, “No, honey. Don’t do that,” in a soft, totally ineffective voice. I have seen 10 year old boys running full-speed through supermarkets and malls, banging into people with a word while parents chat on cell phones or with each other and sometimes what their kids torture strangers. Attending meetings and events at their school is difficult for me because parents are often as bad as their children — talking through presentations and allowing their younger children to annoy those around them.

So, when I meet children whose behavior is at the other end of the spectrum, it catches me off-guard.

Shortly after my boys are called into the office, a woman arrived with a 3 year old girl and 5 year old boy (he told me he was 4, but he is apparently having a birthday soon). They were very cute — most kids in that age group are — and charmed everyone in the waiting room. The boy (I’ll call him Jack) wanted to play with a toy, but I was in his way, so I moved to a chair next to the toy and kept typing (I had a netbook in my lap as usual).

As Jack played with the toy, his sister (I’ll call her Jill) talked to her mother, read a book, and watched the fish. At one point Jack said, “Thank you for moving.” Of course I responded with, “You are very welcome,” and smiled to myself. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of his surprisingly polite behavior, but did my best to reinforce it by showing interest in him.

Then he said, “I like your computer,” to which I of course said, “Thank you,” but did not talk much more about it since he did not appear to be especially interested in it. The conversation continued:

Jack: Do you have a husband?
Me: Yes, I do.
Jack: What is his name?
Me: Damon
Jack: Oh that’s a really nice name!
Me: Yes, he likes it, too, and so do I.
Jack: I’m 4 years old.

That was the first mention of himself… Most children (and many adults!) are very egocentric. This child was not only conscious of others, he was concerned with them. Rare, indeed.

I just wanted to share this; it is an everyday encounter, but it gives me hope for the future!



Alex on May 8th, 2009 at 11:51:

He was making small talk so he could catch you off guard and steal your netbook! Those 5-year-olds are tricky little bastards!

Astrid on May 8th, 2009 at 14:33:

What a sweet, polite little boy. He is going to grow up be be a lovely man, I am sure. My goal whan I have kids to be teach them to be well behaved and polite and to reinforce those good behaviours. That is how my parents raised me, and I knew far too well not to throw tantrums in public or private. I respect parents who are the same.

Administrator on May 8th, 2009 at 18:35:

I assume you mean “not like Alex”… ;P

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