When a drop of water hits a duck’s feathers, it’s like a little bead and rolls right off them. The mantra “be like a duck and let it roll of you” is something we refer to in our family (and extensions thereof). I introduced the kids’ old babysitter, Jamie, to the credo early last year, when she was having problems with her roommates. There was a lot of quacking going on for a few months for her, but it all worked out. She moved in with us for the summer, and distanced herself from the trouble. Girls that really weren’t her friends. For me, it’s akin to “don’t sweat the small things.” Will this problem still haunt you five years from now? Next week even? No? Then move the heck on. Most problems in life are like that. Little annoyances that pop in and threaten to ruin an otherwise good day.
A nap-free three-year-old who is having a pre-dinner meltdown? I could get aggravated by it, but the easiest (and best) solution for all was to scoop everyone up, pack up a quick picnic dinner and head to the park for the kids to blow off some of their steam and unbridled energy.
An 8-year-old who frets about a friendship? Explain that we don’t have to be friends with everyone, but we do have to be kind. It was a lesson we talked a bit about again last week.
Nick’s school had “Olympic Day,” which is like their version of an end-of-year field day. As one of the Class Moms, I had to be there for a large portion of the day (note to self: wear sunblock next time to avoid farmer’s tan). Midway through the morning, I caught sight of one of Nick’s classmates, Dan, sitting down on the grass in tears. There’s nothing like seeing a boy at that age cry, whether he’s mine or not. It does nothing shy of break my heart. They’re supposed to be all tough and macho and muddy, full of rough and tumble. When they crumple, I do too. He was being picked on by another classmate.
“He keeps calling me names. He’s not being nice. And it’s my birthday!”
I felt terrible. His eyes welling up again as he was trying to tell me what happened. He was trying to fight back the tears. Nick had wedged himself in the middle, literally and figuratively, and was taking sides with Dan. My kid, who weighs all of 63 lbs soaking wet, was sticking up to the bully-of-the-day for his friend. Man, I love that kid.
“Do you know what I tell Nick all the time? Be like a duck and let it roll off you. Ignore what the other kid is saying to you. Walk away. Go hang out with your friends and forget about his words. He is just trying to get a reaction out of you.”
“But he’s ruining my day. It’s my birthday!”
“YOU are in control of your day. He is not. Don’t let this seep in and ruin it for you. You can’t cry on your birthday. Let’s think about how you’re going to celebrate. Are you doing anything special with your family?”
“Yes,” he said, brightening up immediately, “We’re going to Sonic!”
Sonic really *does* make everything better, doesn’t it?
There are many lessons I work on regularly to impart on my kids. Not getting bogged down by other people’s negativity is a huge one. Sometimes you can’t help the things that happen to you. It’s not in your control. What you CAN control, however, is how you handle it. How you react to your situation. And I’ll be darned if someone else is going to ruin my day (or my kids’) just for the sport of it.
It’s about living positively. And living passionately. And living intentionally.
These are small, but hugely important, lessons that I want to drill into my kids because they are lessons that can serve them well for years to come, whether they’re 3, 13 or 53. I can teach them to clean up after themselves, to do chores around the house, how to cook a solid meal while paying strict homage to the food pyramid, and how to master the multiplication tables even if it kills us all, but all those things pale in comparison to learning how to treat others and how to treat themselves.
Be nice. Live life. Love others. Can I get a chorus of kumbaya?
A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail asking if I wanted to attend an event put on by Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. In Atlanta. They’ll pay my expenses. So besides the fact that I practically live on McDonald’s yogurt parfaits and am powered some days solely by Diet Coke and lots of laughter, I get an opportunity to cross Atlanta off my bucket list of cities never visited? I didn’t even need to finish reading the e-mail to know my answer. But then, being all practical and all, I read it through to the end. During my visit, I get to visit with top leaders from Coca-Cola and learn about their message of living positively. Pinch me. I’m a lucky girl. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say. And, um, hello Atlanta! And a few hours on a plane where someone isn’t pulling at me asking me for goldfish, milk with a straw and how to do remainders in division? Color me happy.
So that’s next week’s adventure. In the meantime, though, the folks putting on the event would like some help from you … are there any burning questions you have for the masterminds behind Coca-Cola and/or McDonald’s? Something you’d like to know? Ask? Say? Please share with me so I can share with them.
June 9, 2011 – Bonus Photo
The temperature actually hit 102 today, but in the interest of not taking a picture while driving, I got this one instead. You know, when the car was parked and all. The kids had half day because of the heat, which I so don’t get. I mean, I’m pretty sure it got really hot when I was a kid in schools with no AC and I certainly don’t remember any half-days because of excessive heat. I fear we’re raising sissies.It’s ok. I made them play outside when they got home from school. You know, in the heat. That’ll toughen them up. Oh wait. You know I’m kidding, right?