May 16, 2013 2:01 pm Children in Charge, Part 2
Davis and Jamie Armstrong received a package from their grandparents, containing some small, beautiful metal cars and trucks. The boys each had a favorite. Jamie loved a green sports car and Davis loved the red bread truck. They were having fun racing them around the windowsills, making perfect sounds for each.
Watching them, Regina was delighted with the peaceful time. She was just about to pay a few bills when the phone rang.
“Regina? Suzy Flinn. We’re going to the park. Can you meet us?”
Astor Park was a cute place, with a country feeling right in the middle of a big town. People from neighboring villages used it a lot. The park was a place everyone loved.
“Hey, boys! Want to meet the Flinns at the park?”
In minutes they were getting ready. Regina packed snacks and water. She was happy because, since the weekend, the children had been doing most of what their parents asked and had been much more respectful. Both Tad and Regina were grateful for the change. They were hopeful that summer and their new way of parenting could make a wonderful difference.
“Let’s bring our new cars to the park!”
“I don’t think so, Davis. Let’s bring the sand toys. I don’t want the things from Gramp and Nana at the park. If you lost them, you would be so sad,” Regina told them.
Davis opened his mouth to object, but then closed it. The boys seemed to understand. They grabbed the mesh bag of sand toys as they went through the garage. Regina noticed that Davis had his hand in his pocket. He took out his little red bread truck and silently put it on a low shelf filled with cans of paint.
“That’s so smart, Davis. You couldn’t stand it if something happened to it,” Regina said gently.
“Yeah. That might be the only real red bread truck in the whole wide world,” Davis said, thoughtfully.
The ride to the park was quick. The boys were out almost before the car stopped, and on the jungle gym in seconds. Regina sat on a deep green park bench to watch them.
The Flinns appeared minutes later. Suzy and Regina hugged as Suzy’s boys ran to the jungle gym.
“Let’s race,” said Teddy Flinn, who was Davis’ age. “The Armstrongs against the Flinns.”
Regina felt a problem in the making, but Suzy loved a race.
“Go Billy and Teddy. Go Flinns! You know what to do. Wahoo!”
Off they ran. Billy Flinn, age three, immediately realized he hadn’t a prayer. He feigned a side ache with tears galore as he limped back to the bench.
Suzy gave him a pat as she yelled, “Come on Teddy, be a Flinn.”
As the three boys made the little turn, Davis inched ahead. Teddy put out his foot and tripped Davis. Davis fell as Teddy ran to the imaginary finish line, yelling, “I win!”
Jamie came right over. “You didn’t win. You tripped my brover!” Turning to Regina, he said, “Mommy, he cheats.”
Regina comforted her boys. “Let’s not race here. This park has so many great things to do. You can race anywhere.” She was trying to ignore the tripping.
“Drinks!” Teddy yelled to his mother.
Suzy got water from her cooler and handed it to Teddy.
“How am I supposed to open this with sand on my hands, Mom?”
Suzy wiped Teddy’s hands and opened his water.
“Mom, straws next time okay? This is a pain,” Teddy complained.
Davis and Jamie just watched and listened to Teddy.
Regina handed her boys their drinks and snacks.
“Thank you,” they said, almost in unison.
“These apples are good,” said Jamie.
“I hate apples.” said Billy. “Dumb food! I have fruit loops!”
“We don’t like your snack either!” Davis replied.
Suzy was looking at her phone and texting her babysitter, so she missed this exchange.
“Can we go home? I want to play with my car,” Jamie asked.
“Yeah. Let’s go,” Davis chimed in.
Suzy was surprised by the short visit but was still texting. “Things to do, Regina?”
“The boys want to play with their new cars. At home.”
“You’re a sore loser!” Teddy barked.
Jamie charged up to Teddy who was much taller. “Davis maybe coulda won. You tripped him!”
“Boys let’s just get our things and walk to the car. Goodbye, Suzy,” Regina said, with minimal warmth.
Just then they heard the ice cream truck’s bells. Simultaneously, the boys yelled. “Ice cream!”
Regina asked Davis and Jamie to put things in the car. “Then we can get ice cream.”
Running to the car, Davis and Jamie dropped their toys. They charged through the gate and raced to the Good Humor truck. Calmly but definitely, Regina took her children’s hands and walked them back to the gate. “You know the rules. Gates can only be opened by grownups. You’ve been great today. You have to listen to me all the time.”
Davis said, “Sorry, Mommy. We don’t want to be Flinns. I don’t like them.”
“Me neiver.” said Jamie.
“It’s great that you know they were being were unkind and rude.”
“Teddy tripped Davis and pretended Davis fell and never said he was sorry.” Jamie was still fuming.
They walked back to the ice cream truck. The line was short.
The ice cream man remembered them. “Last year you pulled out a lot of my napkins and threw them all around.”
“Things are a better now. My husband and I are trying hard to help the children listen to us.”
“It shows. What can I get you?”
Davis said, “One chocolate éclair, please.” Jamie said, “Me too, please. Mommy, you have one too.”
“You’ve earned it,” said the ice cream man.
They walked on the sun-drenched gravel, enjoying their treats.
Across the park, Regina saw Teddy kicking dirt on Suzy’s sandals. She felt like the luckiest mother in the world.
She and Tad were working to be real parents. There would be ups and downs, but also many happy, rewarding days ahead. Davis and Jamie were happier too. With conscientious, firm but kind parents, the children were flourishing. Parenting was becoming more natural for Regina and Tad, too. Licking the last bit of ice cream off the little wooden stick, Regina felt confident they were on the road to contentment.
Written by: Anne Martine Cook, Managing Partner & Mom, with 35+ years experience teaching nursery school children.
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