Consider my oldest two, who typically get downstairs before I do on school mornings. On an average morning, in the 15 seconds it takes me to leave my bedroom, glance in the boys' bedroom, pass the bathroom, descend the stairs and walk into the kitchen, I can see the following:
- The bedroom light left on
- Pajamas on the floor
- An unmade bed
- The bathroom light left on
- The toilet seat up
- The toilet unflushed
- A stack of 20 books spilled on the stairs
- A bowl of cereal poured to overflowing
- Four family room and kitchen lights on
- Another bathroom light on
- The refrigerator door open
- The pantry doors open
- Five boxes of cereal on the island
- Seventeen CDs strewn on the counter underneath the radio
- Cereal spilled on the floor
- The cap left off the milk
- And the dog whining to go out without either boy even noticing.
What I fail to notice is that a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old have:
- Gotten themselves out of bed;
- One of them is dressed;
- One made his bed;
- Both started breakfast without their parents;
- They're not fighting;
- They're cooperating on cereal and milk;
- And they're in a generally happy mood.
The question is painfully rhetorical, because of course I could. Of course I should.
We all should. How often do we see the negative? How often do we share the bad stuff? How often do we see what's wrong, instead of all that's right?
Kids need to see those things, too. And they need to know that you see them all the time.