Christmas time is where we hear about how important it is for kids to be “good” because we know that Santa is watching. T-shirts, songs, books all proclaim the importance of good behavior and anything less than “good” brings a punishment of coal and sticks. Well, at least that is how the story goes. I personally have never heard of a parent forgoing presents to teach a lesson on Christmas morning but anything is possible.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love that our Elf, Nico, is here to report Little Miss Sassy Pants and her brother to Santa. What mother of a 4 and 7 year old wouldn’t like that? I also love the idea that the kids think that minor infraction might lighten their Christmas morning haul. However, what gets me all upset is grown adults that have this “need” to tell me that Eph was, “really good” in reference to his time spent with them.
Eph is a good kid. He is always a “good” kid. He isn’t a bully or mean. He doesn’t disrespect adults. He is extremely helpful, has a HUGE heart and truly cares about people, animals and everything else. He is sensitive, gets his feelings hurt, and even will cry sometimes. So I have found myself becoming more and more irritated when I drop him off somewhere, return to pick him up and the adult in charge says, “he was really good today,”
I know that the comment is not meant to be insulting but it makes me want to ask them, “Did you think he was going to be bad? Is he normally bad? Does he have some history of not being good?
The truth is, he doesn’t. He has a history of being busy. VERY BUSY. And in the mind of most adults, being busy, jumpy, wiggly, squiggly is akin to being “bad.” So, when he manages to make it through an event or activity of some kind without having to be told to sit down, settle down, etc, these kind adults think they are giving us some compliment by saying, “Wow, he was really good today.”
The only thing they are forgetting is that he has ears too. When he comes up to me, face beaming, carrying all his papers and the adult in charge wants to tell me how “he was so good,” I just kind of cringe. I don’t know what the appropriate response to this declamation might be. Truthfully, I am not even sure what the person is intending. I do know that what Eph hears, is “that tonight I was good, so on the other nights, I must not be good.”
I see the mixed message cross his little face.
I see that he is hurt and confused by their comment.
Sometimes he takes the comment graciously and tells me how good he was but other times, he just puts his head down and walks away. Then later on, when he gets wiggly or makes a mistake he says, things like, “I am just a bad kid.”
But he’s NOT.
He is an exceptional kid albeit a very busy one.
We are sowing seeds of self-esteem into our children and even busy ADHD children need to know that they are not worse or better because of the day that they are having. Behaviors that are not appropriate need to be addressed but to constantly refer to a child as “good” has deep impacting consequences. Developing little children do not need to think that they fall into some category of good or bad.
I know that the back handed compliment from the staff, leader or pastor was not meant to harm but hearing it time and time again, has begun to hit a nerve. I have been trying to come up with a well meaning reply. A reply that clearly addresses the fact that it is not okay to label my child, any more that it would be alright for me to label you. However, as of yet, I haven’t found just the right words. So for now, I will just smile graciously at them, hug my little one and try to find out exactly what was “so good” about the day all the while emphasizing how proud I am of his actions and what an amazing kid he really is.