March 17, 2016 8:18 am Children Teaching Parents, Part 1 (Revisited)
Sam and Nick were four-year-old best friends. Life with each other was all they knew and that was just fine. Sam’s mother and father were Julie and Philip, slightly older parents who felt so lucky to have Sam. Julie was a landscape artist and Philip was a veterinarian. They loved time together and marveled at their little boy’s openheartedness.
Nick’s father, Ron was a rather serious insurance salesman. His wife Lois had recently found a part time job at a small kitchen shop in town. The two families used to get together often, but schedules had changed and for the time being, plans were limited. The boys still played together whenever they could.
One day Sam was out on his porch with Nick. The air was warm and felt good. Together they had gathered many small sticks and were making little houses for themselves, imagining they were tiny neighbors. They looked up when they heard Nick’s father’s car. Ron honked the horn several times.
“Nick, let’s go. We’re late!”
“I wish I could stay,” said Nick sadly.
“No dawdling, Champ. Let’s go!”
Nick hustled to the car, looking back just once at Sam and his stick house.
Julie and Philip came out to say goodbye to Nick and hello to Ron.
“We had fun. Hope to see you and Lois soon. You have a great little boy.”
“Well, not so great when I’m in a hurry.”
“Really? Nick came to you pretty quickly, Ron,” Julie said.
Backing out, Ron said, “Well next time I’d like him to fly.” He turned to Nick. “Get that seat belt on, now!”
Sam could see Nick’s little sad face looking at him from the car window.
“Bye, Nick. See you at school. I’ll save your house,” called Sam. He turned toward his parents. “I wish Nick could have finished his house. Aren’t his windows cool? We are going to share a tiny mail box, too.”
Julie and Philip just beamed at Sam.
“Sam you’re a very sweet and kind little boy and a good friend. We love you so much,”
Julie told him. Philip added, “I love the houses.” As he spoke, he patted Sam’s dark curls.
In no time it was dark and starting to get windy. Sam looked out the window to the porch to make sure the stick houses were fine.
“Mommy, Nick’s house is getting wrecked!” Sam opened the screen door. “Please come out before it is almost gone.”
Philip joined them and they were able to fix Nick’s house. They moved both houses to a more protected spot.
“Thank you for helping!” Sam was so relieved. “Nick loved his house so much. I don’t want those cool windows to blow away.”
Later, as Julie was giving Sam a bath, he said, “I hope Nick’s Daddy got happy again. He seems always a little crabby.”
Julie was washing Sam’s legs through the bubbles and warm water. “I bet he did. No one likes to be crabby.”
Philip entered the bathroom just in time to wrap his little boy in a big yellow and white striped towel. Kissing Sam’s wet shoulder, he whispered, “You are a great friend, Sam.”
“Daddy, I love Nick. His parents aren’t like you and Mommy. They’re always rushing and they don’t smile. They both make mean mouths. Nick feels sad, I think.”
“Well, let’s see if we can cheer him up. We will be close to his house tomorrow when I pick up Scout’s kibble. Then we can go to the little French bakery.”
“Really? That would be fun Daddy. Can Mommy come?”
“Of course, but she might want to plant a few things while we’re out. I’ll call Nick’s house while Mommy reads to you.”
Julie came into Sam’s room. He was already in pajamas and under the covers.
“Mommy, if Nick’s Daddy says yes, he will come to the bakery with me and Daddy tomorrow. You can come, right?”
“I hope you and Nick can go to the bakery together. You’ll go even if Nick can’t. I might just stay here and plant those geraniums you and Daddy gave me for Mother’s Day. When you come back I’ll show you how beautiful they look in the ground.”
When Philip talked to Lois on the phone, he was surprised that she sounded irritated with Nick and with him.
“Thank you, Philip, but Nick can’t go with you. He was a sad sack tonight because he had not been able to finish whatever the boys were doing over there. We don’t allow pouting in this house. So he will be staying home tomorrow.”
Bravely, Philip said, “You know, Lois, Nick was working hard on something that meant the world to him. Ron came by much earlier than any of us expected. Nick’s disappointment was only natural.”
“Nick needs to understand that he doesn’t always get his way, Philip. We are helping him learn a lesson.”
In the background, Philip could hear Ron saying, “Nick, if you don’t get your pajamas on fast, there will be no story!”
“Maybe Nick needs a break, Lois,” Philip said softly.
“He doesn’t!” she snapped. “You raise your son and we’ll raise ours. Good night.”
“Okay, Lois. Good night.” He was shaking his head as he put down the phone and wondering how he could ever break the news to Sam.
Luckily, Julie came down in a minute. “Our dear little boy is sound asleep.” She smiled at Philip. “We are so lucky to have him.”
Quietly, Philip told her about the conversation with Lois. “I know they love Nick, but they parcel it out only if he is perfect. They don’t want him to be spoiled, but they don’t understand how they are making him feel.”
“Let’s try to make a plan together. Maybe we can help them see how dear Nick is.”
The next evening, Julie phoned Lois. “Hi, Lois. Since you took that job in the Cook’s Kitchen, I hardly see you. How about you, Ron and Nick coming over for supper tomorrow night? The next day is a conference day, so the boys won’t have to get up so early for school.”
Lois accepted. “Thanks, Julie. I’d like to catch up too. Nick just finished cleaning up the playroom, so I guess he will be allowed to come. What can I bring?” she asked.
“Just bring yourselves,” Julie answered. “See you tomorrow at 5:30.”
Lois turned to Nick. “We’re invited to dinner at Sam’s tomorrow night. If you are good, you can come. If not… babysitter and no TV! Got it?”
Nick’s eyes were wide and serious as he looked into his mother’s eyes. “Okay, Mommy,” he said quietly.
Tune in next week to see how this situation is resolved… Or not.
Written by: Anne Martine Cook, Managing Partner & Mom, with 40+ years experience teaching nursery school children.
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