My 10-year-old son also known as He Who Never Stops Moving, seems to think that after he goes to bed, I’m hosting wild dance parties or X-Men/Avenger/Star Wars movie marathons with candy appetizers and unlimited refills on pop. Though he is incredibly crabby when he doesn’t get a full night’s rest, he often asks me why I”m not going to bed when he does with a distinct tone meant to convey the complete unfairness of the fact that he has to go to bed, and I get to stay awake. I also think this is completely unfair, and so I’ve gotten in the habit of detailing a list of exciting highlights for the evening, which tonight included loading the dishwasher, putting away Halloween decorations, folding laundry, making tomorrow’s lunches, organizing coupons/receipts, and writing my next blog post. This usually convinces him that he would indeed prefer not to be an adult tonight, and then he goes right to sleep.
Tonight, however, as I was tucking him into bed he asked, “What are you going to write about?”
Given my upbringing by parents who managed to evade capture by the Việt Cộng, I answered his question with a question: ‘What do you think I should write about?” (See, Mama, I was paying attention).
Luckily for you (and me), he had very strong views about this:
“You should tell people how to make sure their kids will be good kids.”
Curious as to what his answers would be, I asked him, “Well, what should I tell them?”
He furrowed his brow for a second, then came up with the following list reproduced nearly verbatim here and in exactly the order he stated them on how to raise your kids to be good kids. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:
- “Make your kids take piano lessons and practice even if they don’t want to.
- Make your kids take karate lessons even if they don’t want to.
- Feed them veggies every day.
- Don’t let them eat too much candy, especially Halloween candy and junk.
- Say prayers with them every night. Because it’s important to worship God and to be thankful. Maybe you can make that part sound better. (I left it as is.)
- Make sure to love them a lot.
OK, you can add other stuff in if you want to, too.”
This took longer to type than it did for him to say. I kissed him good night, turned off the light, and marveled at how quickly he came up with these suggestions. I’ll leave the term “make your kids” for him and his future therapist to work through. I’m just grateful that he thinks of himself as a good kid, and I thank God I’ve been blessed with the care and keeping of three old souls with wonderfully distinct personalities. In terms of “other stuff” to add to this list, I think I’d only add this:
7. Make sure to really listen to your kids.
I’m glad I did.