Aristotle has been behaving pretty well at school lately. In fact, it almost seems as if there is a cyclical pattern in his behaviour with peaks and troughs where good behaviour intermingles with “bad” behaviour. Despite the recent string of glowing reports from school, I thought I would continue the discussion on discipline that I started a couple of blog posts back. Here are the topics we’ve covered so far:
And for today: Children will be Children…
Recently, I’ve been unwinding with Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery. Yes, it’s quite a change from my usual reads – parenting books and the sci-fi/fantasy genre that is more my flavour. It’s been a long time since I first read this book and the second time around was surprisingly enjoyable especially in light of the disciplinary issues I had been having with Aristotle. Being a parent during this second reading gave me a very different appreciation for Anne Shirley’s exploits and misfortunes. It was a nice reminder how easy it is for adults to mistake the good intentions of a child and mislabel them as “naughty”, for example, when Anne accidentally gets her friend Diana drunk when she served her currant wine thinking it was raspberry cordial instead. Or when Marilla thought Anne had stollen her brooch and Anne confessed to a crime she did not commit because she wanted to attend a picnic.
Although, in reality, life might not be quite as colourful as the story of Anne Shirley’s life, I still think the messages are just as relevant. Children are children – they will make mistakes and they will drive us to our wits end sometimes, but there is no need to predict doom and gloom just because of a few incidences. I like to remember what Professor Makoto Shichida says – that children are works in progress and it is important to remember that this is not the final product. At 5 years old, Aristotle has still a long way to go.
And if you don’t believe in characters from story books then here’s a real live example – my brother. When he was little, he used to throw the most terrible tantrums where he would bang his head violently against walls and floors when he didn’t get what he wanted – it was quite a frightening sight to behold and I’m sure my parents must have feared he would suffer brain damage if he didn’t stop. Naturally they would always give in to him – which parents wouldn’t? I also recalled a time when I beat him at a game we were playing on a computer and he punched me because he was so upset that he lost. To look at him now you would never guess that he was capable of such things in his childhood. His character now is almost the polar opposite of the child that he was – he’s mild-mannered (usually), sociable, and easy-going.
Like Aristotle, my brother was quite introverted and very slow to warm up to new faces. As children, he often hid behind me and I would be the one leading the way. Now he’s the friendly, outgoing one and I’m the social recluse who feels painfully awkward at gatherings never knowing what to say to anyone. If Aristotle turns out like my brother, I’d be quite content. Unfortunately, I really don’t know the formula that worked with my brother to make him turn out the way he did. In fact, by conventional thinking, allowing my brother to get what he wanted when he threw those terrible tantrums meant that he should have been spoiled but that’s not how he turned out.
At the end of the day, I guess if we’ve done the best that we can, then all that’s left is to have faith in our children to turn out the way we hope they will.