Wednesday, June 12, 2013

what we value

My sister, Michelle, invited Sam & I to join her at her neighborhood pool the other day.  She lives in this pretty, little new housing development smack dab between a playground and a pool {read:  Sam's heaven on earth}.  He was so excited to go swim {first swim of summer!} & was even more thrilled when he saw there were three little kids about his same age playing in the kiddie pool.



He quickly found himself a happy little corner of the pool and ran & splashed & played.  Two of the kids took alternating turns coming over to spray him with their water guns, but hey, it's a pool, and he didn't seem to mind too much.  About an hour into the fun I hear Sam proclaiming that he is NOT a baby, he is a big boy! The other kids had semi-circled around him, calling him a baby and spraying him in the face with their water guns.  The children's mothers who appeared to be friends, were sitting not even 5 feet away at the edge of the pool, sunbathing. One of them said something along the lines of, "Honeyyy, I don't think he likes that..." and left it at that.  The taunts continued, the spraying continued and then one of them started hitting Sam.  All of this had progressed to that point within under a  minute.  I ran over and pulled him out of the pool and he started to cry.  Tears rolling down his cheeks, he reiterated, "I'm not a baby..." not understanding why those kids were treating him that way.

And it broke my heart.
And Michelle began to tear up.
And the other kids continued to play, and their mama's continued to sunbathe.

Sam decided he still wanted to swim, but would just play away from those kids.  He went back to swimming and enjoyed the rest of his afternoon.  But it was too late for me, for this mama bear had already been riled.  This was no rough and tumble neighborhood where kids learn that being tough equates to survival, this was upper middle class suburbia in a small, affluent town.  How could those mothers just sit by and watch their children bully another child? And I got to thinking about what we as a society value.

Our society tells parents that the most important things we can do for our kids is jam pack their schedules to the brim with sports, music, clubs, tutoring... anything that will give them intellectual stimulation or a competitive edge against their peers.  We measure success in SAT scores and batting averages.  We compare how early our children are able to recite their ABC's and write their own names.  We want to see results and we want these results to be superior to their peers. Because this is success in parenting.  Or is it?

What about teaching our children empathy, compassion & kindness?  What about emotional and spiritual stimulation?  Why are these not valued on the same level?  Is it simply because they cannot be measured, cannot be compared or ranked?  Or is it because we truly do not think they are important?

Well, I believe they are important.  More important, actually.  Jon and I have long discussed what values we wish to instill in Sam as he grows older and above all else we want for him to 1) love God, 2) care deeply for others, & 3) have an exceptional work ethic.  These are the things that we believe will truly help him in leading a meaningful life.  Not that these are easy to teach to a four year old as they are naturally self-centered and tend toward ease & fun, but this is nonetheless our dream for him.  For him to grow up having a heart for humanity and a willingness to work his butt off to help make this world a better place.  Work hard at loving hard, little Sam, this is my wish for you.

There are more important things in this world than measurable success and it so saddens my heart that those mama's chose to look the other way when the opportunity to teach those values presented themselves that day at the pool.  So tragic really, the belittling of our roles as mothers to settle instead for the role of shuttle-bus from one activity to the next.  Because we have so. much. more. to offer our children.

12 comments:

  1. oh dear sweet boy. he is lucky to have you. this post reminds me of the BEST BEST BEST book i read recently: Wonder. you'll adore it. it reiterates the importance of the exact things you want for Sam :)

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    1. Thank you so much! I am absolutely going to order myself that book! thanks so much for the suggestion!

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  2. it really broke my heart, poor little sam!
    being French, i would have yelled at those moms... lol but we're civilised and i think when i'll be a mom i'll learn a lot too.
    i think your values are great and i think that it's best to teach them early on, like you are doing.
    thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you! If I were more outspoken, I probably would have told them a thing or two ;)

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  3. I was about to cry....poor sam!!
    You're so right, and I really really think you and Jon are doing a very good job with your child.
    You're teaching him what really matters in life!
    I send you a big hug from Italy!
    Have a nice Monday!

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  4. Poor Sam, I can't believe the mothers of the other boys just sat there and didn't step in! I would have told them a thing or too. It's sad what people deem important to teach their kids now days. So glad that you and Jon want to instill important values in your son :)

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    1. Too bad you weren't, I think being told a thing or two would have done them some good! :)

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  5. Kids can be so cruel to one another. Its really heart breaking that the moms did nothing to stop that. Will they ever learn? We'll never know and that in itself is really sad.

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    1. I agree... so sad to imagine them growing up without that kind of guidance :(

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  6. Grrr... all I know is that those mama's are lucky I wasn't there! Poor Sam. I love the values you & Jon are so intentionally instilling in Sam and wish only more people would do the same. Miss you guys! -Kristi R

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    1. Thanks, friend! I miss you!! Maybe we'll have to come soak up some of that Bend sunshine with you soon :)

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