Good Behavior

Little sister received an award today for good behavior – a sort of student of the month award. She was thrilled – and so were her sister and her father and I. The reward specifically chose a student who was exemplary in Positive behavior – a far cry (literally and figuratively) from both the day she was extricated from me in a sobbing heap (Maybe, baby, it’s you…) or even, well, yesterday. A time when the vast majority of her morning was spent wailing that she couldn’t go to school because she would be having a substitute teacher.

Today she skipped a little nervously up the few steps to the stage where she shook hands with the principal and assistant principal and received her ribbon, certificate and goodies. We offered to take her home after the ceremony and she declined – stating that she wanted to go back to class and finish out her day (with about 40 minutes left of it). At pick up she was sobbing saying that she should have left when we offered and spent the “rest of the ENTIRE day” missing us. There has to be a bright side to all of this…

Though I was proud of Little Sister (and I am proud of Big Sister too) I almost felt a little fraudulent sitting there beaming at her. I was looking at her in wonder at how much she has grown and changed and how brave I knew she was being by walking up the stage but honestly, I expect good behavior. I don’t know if that is Tiger-mom ish (maybe that term only extends to academia?) but it is true. I expect that my kids will be polite and well-mannered and positive and trying their best to do well and be kind. I expect them to lead with compassion and good nature (and have the occasional melt down too…). I expect them to hold open the door for others and to stand up to injustice and form their own opinions and challenge unfairness. Not just because they are my children but because they are citizens of the world, ambassadors to planet Earth and members of the human race.

I try (and my husband is sometimes better at this than I am) – to “catch” the girls when they are doing something good and celebrate those moments. And I completely support rewarding good behavior (which might explain springing for sushi and cupcakes this week). But the real reward and benefit will be self-assuredness and reliance that comes with knowing they can handle whatever life has in store for them. The practice of doing the right thing when no one is looking turns into a skill where they will be rewarded with self-earned pride in taking the high road.

The take away (besides the pencil and bracelet) of this afternoon is this – I need to tell the people who are always doing a good job – who lend support and their time selflessly that I see them and it matters to me. And I need to stay a little more positive so that I can be a good role model. Helpfully, I just so happen to have a certified, pint sized mentor who would be more than happy to share her tricks of the trade…

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