Saturday, February 4, 2012

The bad stuff is crystal clear

It's easy to see the bad things. We see them in our friends. We see them in our spouses. We see them in our world, our jobs, our homes and our lives. We definitely see them in our kids.

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.
As I walk, the bad-things counter keeps ticking in my head, so when I actually see the two loves of my life, I immediately unload the list of things they screwed up. My first words on this beautiful, sunny morning are heavy-handed complaints about how they need to do things better.

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.
Yet here comes Dad to hit them with a list of failures. It pains me to think about how many times I complain to my kids; criticize them; tell them to be better. Would it hurt me to compliment them on all the things they've done right? Could I start the day with a list of great things they did?

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment