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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Why was my Son a Lemming?

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Why was my Son a Lemming?

I always thought I did a good job with our kids. They know right from wrong...I thought they did...and they are generally thoughtful and loving, especially my youngest. This is why I was so surprised he did what he did a few days ago.

Our boys do Cub Scouts. They just had their annual Blue & Gold Banquet, celebrating the birthday of Scouting. The boys, as boys will do, got tired of the somewhat long-winded program. Pretty soon, the scheduled turn of events morphed into a room full of paper airplanes. The scouts stayed busy, first by drawing on their airplanes. Next thing I know, my youngest comes back with his prized airplane, decorated in a swastika, the words "Nazi Bomber" and some other dreck inscribed on the side. What???!!!

Don't forget, our German exchange student was sitting right at the table. He took one look and calmly said, "Somebody needs a history lesson" and left it at that. Mom bit her tongue and gave my son the evil eye. Son dutifully erased what he had done and the banquet ended.

After he sincerely apologized, we had a long talk about it at home. I didn't want to hear the excuses that an older boy at the banquet pressed him to do that. That made it even worse! Since when did my son become a lemming? Following blindly along was worse than the artwork itself in my opinion! Well, we went over the whole Nazi/Hitler thing, because I'm sure he didn't totally get that, and then I asked him the ubiqitous, "If someone told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?" Of course, his answer was "NO!"

Anyway, there was a teaching point here, and you can bet I hammered it home:

  • There are people languishing in jail today because they did exactly what someone told them to do, without thought and without reflection
  • Whatever you do right now can have bigger consequences later
  • Be a leader and not always a follower
  • Learn to catch the signs or at least know or suspect when someone is trying to jive you
  • Take at least a split second to think before you do something
  • It's perfectly okay to say "no" to some bozo older kid, egging you on to do something
We'll see what happens in the future. He's had a bad week. He is home from school today..there goes his perfect attendance record...because he hurt his foot falling off his friend's bike and can't rightly walk..no helmet, no shirt and no shoes...his doctor was surprised to hear that and boy did I feel like a bad mom when we went to go see him yesterday....but that is another story all together.

What have your kids done lately that has astounded you? Do you have a story to share?

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10 Comments:

Blogger Linda said...

Oh MY! This story hit a nerve with me, as my daughter, age 7, tends to lemming with the best of them.

This weekend was a perfect example. On Saturday, we had my son's birthday party (he turned 4). The invited guests included all the kids in the neighborhood, and 2 "out of towner" (they are on post, we're in town) long-time friends. After the last of the presents, we let the kids play outside, since it was an absolutely gorgeous day. Now, my daughter knows the parameters of outside play...where she can and can't go. Things have gotten even stricter because there's construction on the lot next door and they've torn up so much area around our duplex complex. One place that is STRICTLY off-limits is the drainage ditch. It is a NASTY place, because it gets all the run-off from the road AND the neighborhoods above us.

This has been drilled into all the head of the kids in the neighborhood. They all know to stay away from there. But our other guests did not...and one of them is my dd's BEST friend. She (the other girl) was there playing with her younger sister and one of the neighbor kids...his mom hollered at him to get away, and he did. But the two girls stayed down there. At that point, my daughter was not there, she'd gone inside for a moment. I pulled my friend aside and told her where the runoff came from and why we stayed from there, as you could SEE the trash there too.

My daughter came out, along with my hubby, so I went in (my friend came along as well) to supervise my son, since he wanted to stay and play with his gifts.

About 20 minutes later, in came my daughter, screeching and crying. She was scratched all over her back, her pants (GOOD ONES, too) were torn up in three places, and she had smaller scratches on her arms and face. Apparently, the other girl went BACK to playing there; my husband told her to come away and she said something like "No, I can stay if I want..." or some such other disrespectful, thumb-my-nose at adults reply. My hubby also repeatedly told our daughter not to go, but she disobeyed. Not 2 minutes into her foray, she fell among the branches of crap and crud run-off and tore herself up.

While I felt sorry for her pain, I did not feel at ALL sympathetic for how she acquired the pain. I washed her cuts with soap and water (gently, but I KNEW it would hurt), informed her that I would NOT use an entire box (or more) of bandaids to cover the scratches and she'd have to deal with the pain, and told her she was done playing outside.

Later on, when she was sufficiently calmed down, I explained that she did NOT need to follow, that she had to learn to use her head and use the rules she had learned. She said that her friend told her to come, and I explained that SHE (my daughter) had to stand up and say, "we don't play here, it's nasty, germy, dirty, and my parents said to stay away. If you stay, you're being disobedient to your mom too" and then she should have left. But because she didn't stand up for the "hard right" instead of the "easy wrong" she had to pay the consequences.

Sometimes, they have to learn the hard way. Sad, but true. And when they lose something they cherish (like your son's perfect attendance) due to blindly following (or sheer stupidity and lack of moral conviction), I think that is a lesson well learned.

I'm a strong advocate of "consequence training".

March 6, 2008 at 5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can totally relate! I'm going to make my teenage son read your post! Nicely put together for any bird brain to understand.

March 6, 2008 at 8:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm having several problems here. Linda, with children that young, 4 to 7?, why in the name of all that is holy wasn't there an adult with the good sense to just snatch the two girls out of there the first time it happened? This is YOUR home, YOUR party and most important YOUR responsibilty to keep these children safe, so what if a 7 year old decided that "No I can stay if I want" was going to be her attitude to take -- YOU and YOUR HUSBAND are the adults. Neither one of you need to be anything other than THE ADULTS.If you are both such wimps, call the mother of the girls and push it off on her. Stand up to this type of nonsense and you won't have rule breaking brats for kids. The same goes for your daughter, where were the adults when she went back and fell in? You are right about not being a blind follower.

Now on to the Cub Scout -- the FIRST airplane that sailed across the room should have been picked up and the banquet should have been halted. My Father was a Scout leader, my Mother was a Girl Scout leader and Den Mother and I can tell you this much -- if that had happened on their watch -- that's what would have been done and the kid responsible would have been made an example of -- don't even think about telling me that it causes "low selfesteem" or any other psycho babble. If you learn early that every action has a reaction you will not be harmed by the lesson. Too bad that the banquet was running long, children can use some lessons in patience, and the Lord knows it will do them some good as they grow to be adults. I also hope you did give your son a short lesson in history.
Six million people killed, and still some admire the nazi. Carol

March 7, 2008 at 9:21 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Wow, that was a mouthful! I think we all can take a hint that we're not perfect here! With that being said, I think I handled the situation well at the banquet. The planes didn't fly til there was a break in the speeches and the kids were encouraged to run around during the break. I agree that even little kids need to learn some patience and this was the perfect setting for that. But, I make no excuses for my son's actions. I think he learned something from it, as did I.

March 8, 2008 at 5:31 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

Like you said, VMW...we aren't perfect.

The girl's mother chooses to parent the way she wants. My husband did not feel it was his place to yank the girl out of the bushes. He hollered at our daughter; she chose to willfully disobey, and thus, suffered the consequence.

The 4 year old was my son, and he was in the house, being watched over by me.

The kids were no way unsupervised. There were 3 adults outside, and 2 inside...but it only takes a moment for a child to slip from your grasp (or line of sight...and for the record, we live in a tiny cul-de-sac that is off a dirt road that very few cars travel on, so our children are safe playing).

I don't let my kids go outside unless there is an adult with them, and the adult is usually me or my husband. The others in the neighborhood don't generally go out with their kids. I end up supervising a neighborhood full of kids, not by my choice.

If you want to take me to task, Carol, do so, but curb your tongue a bit. WE all do what we can.

March 8, 2008 at 9:54 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

oh, and Carol, I prefer that you not call me names. I don't know you; you have no right to call me or my husband a wimp, nor do you have the right to call my kids (or the kids at the party) rule breaking brats. Disobedient children, yes, but brats? Who are you to judge? Take the plank out of your eye before you complain about the speck in mine.

March 8, 2008 at 9:56 PM  
Blogger zfolwick said...

don't take her comments too seriously. It was, after all, anonymous. Some people don't gather all the info before they go off. Sad for them.

I'm sure you both (from the sound of how you reacted with hard-but-loving methods) taught your kids lessons they'll never forget.

Zach
Pennywise-poundfoolish.typepad.com

March 11, 2008 at 6:43 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Thanks for that comment!

March 11, 2008 at 11:41 PM  
Anonymous JHS said...

Thanks for participating in this week’s Carnival of Family Life: St. Patrick’s Day Edition at Colloquium! The Carnival will be live at midnight (Pacific time) on March 17, 2008, so drop by and check out all of the wonderful submissions included this week! Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!

March 17, 2008 at 5:56 AM  
Anonymous Quicksilver said...

Thanks to both of you for your 'consequence learning' stories. I am glad that there are parents who are willing to give their children enough space to make the small mistakes, and then live with the consequences! I see so many parents around us either not letting the 'little bads' happen (like throwing paper airplanes) or ensuring there are no consequences.

Our boys (7 and 8 and with different learning difficulties) have learnt that actions have consequences, and there is no point in complaining about them. In their cases, consequences still need to be immediate - anything delayed does not impact. The school however has not yet learnt this.......and they look at us like we are the child-beating parents from hell when we point out that if bad behaviour has a consequence (which, by the way, in our house is loss of privilege, timeout or suffering the pain of minor injuries) it is less likely to re-occur.

As my youngest is growing up, I have appreciated one joy of having my older son on the autistic spectrum. Lemming behaviour??? He doesn't even notice what his peers are doing, let alone have a desire to follow them. Now the younger one - he would jump off that bridge if someone else said it would be a good idea, just to show he could!!!

On a side note - if a child's parents are around, I EXPECT them to police their child's behaviour to their standards, as I would mine to our standards!

Cheers
Sheila

March 19, 2008 at 4:42 PM  

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