This morning the boys were playing Worker Man. This involves ‘fixing’ and ‘remodeling’ rooms and furniture in the apartment. They really just like to saw stuff with their many plastic saws, though the black one is coveted for some reason. So, Jack was sitting at his little craft table in the kitchen while I loaded the dishwasher. He was drawing up ‘plans’ for the fixing project. (Seriously, it was cute as hell. They really understand how to be marketable TV contractors.) Alex was in their room pretending to be the homeowner calling for help. He did the ‘ring, ring’ noise to indicate he was ready to begin.
Jack, without pausing or looking up, said to me, “Can you answer that?”
And you know what? I did. Because when Jack tells you to do something, you do it.
He’s a bit, um, bossy. That is such a nasty word for leader, but it fits at times. He likes telling people what to do. He likes to be in control and for things to be his way. What that really means is he is genetically driven to love routine and bring his vision to life come hell or brother with other ideas. I expect nothing less considering his mom, me, was born with a clipboard and a manager’s voice. (Gwen, now is the time for you to tell the story of me allegedly telling you how to open yogurt.) And my husband Michael isn’t exactly one to let others decide how he is going to do things.
I see Jack’s inherent sure-mindedness, and I know one very important thing we must do as parents is take our children’s natural tendencies and help make them strengths. Is your kid stubborn? Sure, it’s annoying when that means they will not be wearing the shirt you had picked out for them which is also the only clean one, but how great will it be when they don’t succumb to peer pressure because they are standing their ground? Jack is a leader, but he is also a cheerleader. This kid wants everyone to be happy and to know they are doing well. “Mommy, you’re building that Lego car just great!” “It’ll be okay, Alex, Daddy can help us figure out the game.” He immediately shifts into helper mode when I’m frazzled and Alex is on the verge of losing it too. He takes charge and tries to get us back to peace with his reassuring phrases and cheery outlook.
I love my kids just the way they are, and I want to make them better, stronger, faster. No, wait, that’s not right. I want to help them be happy and successful. Yes, that’s it. I want them to be 100% true to themselves while also making the most of what God has given them.
And for Jack, that means molding him into a brave leader who takes care of his charges. I know he has it in him. He already has some useful managerial skills; he can dismiss an idea without saying it’s stupid. He says, “Sure, sure,” and then goes on saying the way he wants it done. Sure, sure is code for “Um, no, that’s not gonna happen”.
It’s a start.