When I was a kid I loved the Tom Hanks movie, Big, where the12 year old Josh Baskin was transformed into a full grown adult by the power of the (terrifying) carnival fortune teller, “Zoltar Speaks”. It was easy to put myself in that situation and dream of how I’d be as an adult – everything would be fun, there would be no such thing as discipline, and kids would love me as the “greatest adult in the world”
I’ll be honest here, I didn’t hate 13 going on 30 either. I mean, it was no Big, but that “Thriller” dance scene was pretty great.
Anyway, the point is, when you are a kid you know exactly the kind of parent you are going to be. For the most part, you grow up and realize there is a reason that your parents treated you the way they did. As the the comedian Sinbad said, “They weren’t always that way. You made them like that”. My dreams of growing up and allowing my kids to have all the candy they want, making school optional, and encouraging all disputes to be settled with a Thunderdome battle in the back yard all fell away…admittedly mostly because of Kristan.
But a few things remained. We have a couple of rules that made it through the filter of adulthood. Two come to mind right away (one that everyone loves and one that everyone hates).
Rule 1: Never say “No” to a book. If the boys want a book we buy them a book. Reading is important to us and cultivating a love for it is a family value.
That’s the easy one. The other one gets us looks like we are absolutely insane. Really, people look at me like somehow 12 year old me is living inside my 36 year old body making all the decisions.
The rule: Always believe my kids. Always. If they tell me something I’m going to operate under the belief they are telling the truth…even if I know they are lying.
I’ve been told this is stupid, naive, and irresponsible. Perhaps it’s irresponsible, but it’s not naive or stupid. I get that Nolan and Asher will lie to me, and it’s possible they use the knowledge of this rule (I’ve told them I’ll always believe them) to take advantage of me. In the end I would prefer my children grow up knowing that their parents trust them entirely. We talk about lying and why it’s wrong – we just tell the boys that we expect the truth from them so much that we choose to believe they won’t lie to us. We want them to have the responsibility of truth.
Anyway, yesterday I broke the rule!
Nolan jumped off the back of his bunk bed which he often does (between the bed and the wall) and landed on the pillows beside the bottom bunk. He hasn’t done this a lot recently since he broke his leg and this time he found himself stuck. Unfortunately, he has joked about being stuck before and it didn’t occur to me that he really couldn’t get out.
It was time for prayer, and we were tired, so eventually I said (in perfected Dad voice), “Nolan, stop playing and get out. You’re not stuck”.
And then I saw the tears start to well up in his eyes.
“I am stuck” he said meekly
He wasn’t upset b/c he was stuck. He was upset b/c this was the first time (that I can remember) that I didn’t believe him.
So we pulled him out, apologized for not believing him…
and re-told the story of “The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf”.