Slim was floating lazily around the pool in a floaty, Knox and Lil' C were - shockingly - playing together with squirty kick board things, and Baby E was happily splashing in the shallow end by the stairs.
The pool was uncrowded, and I was actually enjoying myself.
Until...that kid came by. We all know the one. The kid who's parent is MIA. The kid who's parent did not bring him any toys so he bugs you to play with the toys you hauled to the pool for your kids. The kid who has no one to play with, so he bugs you and your kids. The kid who splashes you and your baby and thinks it's funny.
Yeah, that one.
A while earlier, Lil' C had bonked this kid on the head with his kick board. It was an accident, but still, I sought out his mother to make sure he was okay.
"Oh, he's fine," she assured me. "It gets him back for what he does to his brother," she laughed and gestured toward a toddler in a stroller.
I smiled and walked away thinking, This is a mom I could be friends with.
But later, as her kid continually splashed my kids, squirted them in the face, took their toys, and teased them, she was no where to be found.
Meanwhile, I was jumping down my kids' backs with every little move they made.
"Knox, stop squirting him!"
"Lil' C, talk nicely to him!"
And disciplining the kid himself.
"Please let my son have his kick board back."
My fury boiled at this mom who, it turns out, was sitting in the shade while her toddler was strapped in his stroller. Awake.
I didn't get it. It made me mad. It irritated me. It definitely made me rethink a budding friendship with her.
But, in the spirit of understanding other moms and ending the Mommy Wars and all that, I decided to just let it go and enjoy my boys and our time at the pool.
Friday night, we invited some friends and their kids to the pool with us. And again, I sat in judgement of people's kids.
In particular was a little girl with a huge squirt gun who was getting every adult wet. After being talked to several times by her mother, the gun was taken away, and I thought, Finally!
It was only upon observation that I realized that my kid was being that kid. Two of them were, in fact!
Lil' C had found the ginormous squirt gun, had taken it without asking, and was joyously getting everyone wet in and out of the pool. Slim was joining him in a water gun fight that had him squirting other kids in the face.
And as I opened my mouth to discipline them, I wondered how many other parents were judging me because of my kids' behavior.
I truly believe that a child's behavior is about 5% in born and 95% how they are raised. Children learn and mimic their parents' words, actions, attitudes, feelings and moods. I see it all of the time in my own children.
Hubby and I yell a lot, unfortunately, so the boys yell a lot. We are impatient and tired. Our attention is all over the place. Our children's behavior reflects this.
When we are calm and loving and give them attention and patience, their attitudes and behavior reflect this.
A perfect example is how they all treat Baby E. I hear them say things to him in the same gentle and loving tone that I use.
Hubby and I have a tendency to be impatient and frustrated by Slim's ADHD behaviors, and that is reflected in how we talk to him. It is also reflected in how the other boys talk to him.
So to me, a child's behavior is a double-edged sword that leaves me wondering, How much of this kid's brattiness is due to his parents, and how much is just his true personality?
Maybe a child's natural personality is to be bold or shy, brazen or anxious. But how does the parent nurture that and react to that?
Every child throws tantrums, but how patient is his parent and how well does she redirect the behavior?
You would think I'd have learned not to throw stones, because my glass house contains more than a crack or two.
So, I promise not to judge you for your kid's behavior, if you don't judge me for my kid's. Deal?
What's your take on nature versus nurture? How much of a child's personality has to do with his parents?