Transracial Parenting »

Saving Teachable Moments for Kids

Every parent has those moments, where you are among strangers and suddenly your child’s evil twin Skippy comes out and you try everything in your power to just keep it together on your end because two ranting raving lunatics will not help the situation. And so it was that I found myself at the eye doctor today with Tin.

We started out like a Hallmark card family in the waiting room. We were joking around with each other and his laugh was infectious – causing the others to smile at us as in “isn’t he the cutest boy ever!”

Then we made it back into a different waiting room where they put the patients who are waiting for their eyes to dilate. We walked in and there was an elderly couple and they smiled when we entered. The elderly woman smiled at me and said, “Are you his social worker?”

“I’m his mother,” I said, smiling back.

About this point the worm turned – you never know what triggers it, maybe he was feeding off my energy – you know where you’re smiling on the outside but screaming on the inside. Tin started hopping from chair to chair and circling the room getting too close to the elderly man’s walker.

“Honey, sit down,” I said.

“No!” Tin’s evil twin Skippy said. Then he began slicing and dicing his outstretched hand at me imitating Captain Hook with his sword.

“Now,” I said through my thin smile.

The woman asked Tin, “What’s your name?” And when he didn’t answer: “Bobby?” “Joey?”

Tin continued to ignore her and began to beat on the chair.

At this point the elderly man, said, “You better behave here or I’m going to call the police on you.”

Tin fell out of the chair, and jumped into the other one.

“Honey,” I said as a warning.

“What school do you go to?” the woman asked sweetly.

Tin turned his back to her.

“You hear, I’m going to call the police,” her husband said.

I looked at the man, smiling and said, “He doesn’t need the police. He has his mother.” Then to to Tin, “Sit down.”

The woman said, “Stop it, Albert. His mother is sitting right here.”

Tin then decided to start trying to pull all the paper towels out of the dispenser before I caught his hand and he broke away then ran out into the hallway. I went out there and told him in a stern whisper that if he didn’t behave he would not get to go on his playdate today.

We went back in the room and the woman said, “What songs do you sing at school. I bet you are a good singer.”

Tin seemed like he might answer her and then he began kicking his feet on the ground.

The woman looked at me and I smiled back. The man was making hissing sounds like he was a police siren. The woman said, “Shhhh” to him.

I told Tin to sit down and then told him he had lost his playdate. Then he began sobbing and sulking in his chair.

The elderly couple were called into another room. When they walked out, the woman looked at me and said, “You have your work cut out for you.”

I smiled on the outside, thinly.

Yes, all parents have those moments where they want their kids to behave but when adults are not behaving, it’s really hard to hold your child to a double standard. I held Tin accountable for his rude behavior and his consequence was losing a playdate. For the adults, my eyes said what my smile betrayed. These are the moments in parenting and especially transracial parenting where you take deep breaths and save your teachable moments for your children instead of strangers — grown-ups who should know better.

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By Rachel Dangermond

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