This post originally appeared on kissing the frog on July 30, 2012. Due to a bratty little girl at the pool and little time to blog this summer, I thought of this post and decided I'd pull it out again. Enjoy!
The other day we went to the pool for the first time in a long time. The triple
digit heat has finally broken here in the Midwest, and I forced the boys to
return to the pool.
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
The pool was uncrowded, and I was actually enjoying
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.
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
I smiled and walked away thinking, This is a mom I could be
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
Meanwhile, I was jumping down my kids' backs with every little
move they made.
"Knox, stop squirting him!"
"Lil' C, talk nicely
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.
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,
It was only upon observation that I realized that
my kid was being that kid. Two of them were, in
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
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
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
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
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