This past weekend, we went to visit my sister and her family to celebrate my father and nephew’s birthdays.
While we were there, I went out with my brother-in-law to watch them play airsoft (I didn’t want to play and get all dirty since we were going out to eat that evening to a nice resturant.)
My 7-year old nephew, Matthew, went with us. He ran off with the young lady, Kari, who had come along as well, while Greg and I had a little skirmish. When we were through, Matthew had this huge rock that Kari and he had dug up… probably about a 20-30 pounder.
He asked me if he could keep it. Thinking to myself, “I don’t want to carry it… and what are you going to do with it,” I said, “no, it belongs to the park. It’s their property. It needs to stay here.”
Immediately, upon not hearing what he wanted to hear, he went to his father and asked, “can I keep the rock?”
Greg concurred with what I had said, and Matthew went off to “fake-sulk.”
He walked around us in circles with his head hung low, bottom lip protruding, wimpering loudly enough that we could all hear it. It was an obvious ploy.
The next thing I know, Greg’s over there telling him, “the rock belongs here…. you want the rock? You can keep the rock. Maybe we can find a bigger one. Would you like that?”
At this point, I got a little ruffled. Matthew had originally asked me a question. Upon not getting the answer he wanted, he went to his dad to try to get a different answer.
Once he didn’t get what he wanted, he manipulated his father into giving him what he wanted, completely negating previous authority.
So the question in my mind was, “what’s the point of an authority figure in his life when his father, who is so easily persuaded, can just overrule anyone? Matthew will learn not to respect authority if he can always get away with anything he wants when his dad is around.”
My wife, Natalie, has had kids like that in her classrooms before; the kind that don’t respect authority because they have a parent who will always side with the child, no matter how the child behaves. There’s a word that describes those kinds of kids: holy-living-terror-brat.
I took it up with Greg as we were leaving the park and he pulled the trump, “I’M HIS DAD AND I CAN CHANGE MY MIND IF I WANT TO!!!” card.
Wow. The big man with the big mouth sure put me in MY place. Say it louder! It makes me think you’re sooo powerful!
I mean, how do you respond to that? I am always looking out for Matthew’s best interests. …but I figured I was overreacting to Greg’s overreacting, so I stood down, remembering that even though the delivery was overly harsh, he was absolutely right. He IS his dad, and he has every right to change his mind…. but it ate at me all day… and all night. I’d hate to see Matthew’s respect for authority ebb away. It’s one of the things that makes him such a good kid and sets him apart from so many other kids I’ve seen.
… I just have to remember: My nephew’s a good kid. His dad loves him. He comes from a strong, Godly lineage. He’ll be ok.
…maybe when Matthew asked to keep the rock, I should have said, “if you can carry it, you can keep it.”