With Valentine's Day over and the weather still cold enough to freeze your nose hairs, what is there to do now? I guess you open your kids' valentines with them and inspect (confiscate) their candy. They each got quite a few suckers, and gummies. They also got a box of hearts each from Gramma. The chalky hearts with the pithy love messages that are sometimes smeared or misprinted. I think the reason these hearts are marketed by the box is so they can sell as many as possible before people realize that they taste terrible. I don't think I've ever seen a box completely empty. Even if someone actually likes this terrible candy, there are always a few pink hearts that get thrown away with the box.
I tossed the pixie stix, taffy and poison hearts aside to evaluate the chocolate haul. Each kid got a small Hershey bar and a couple of Kisses from their classmates. I guess Valentine's Day just doesn't measure up to Halloween's chocolate collection. Luckily, Gramma, sent four fun-sized Hershey bars for each child. So I decided to play my Dad card and teach the kids a little lesson on sharing.
I pointedly asked, "I wonder who is going to be a good sharer, and share their chocolate with Dad?"
"I said, who is going to share their chocolate with DAD!"
Sweet Pea then slid her box of toxic hearts over to me and said, "You can have these, Dad. I don't even like them."
I then had to clarify, "No, I said who is going to share their chocolate with me?"
Number One Son then held out one of his bars and pulled it back when I reached for it. He laughed at me and then eventually gave me one of his chocolates.
I praised N1S for being a good sharer, hoping that Sweet Pea would notice. SP noticed and piped up, "Am I a good sharer too Dad?"
She was now set up perfectly for my Dad life lesson. "I'm sorry SP. You only shared the candy hearts that you don't even like. You have to share something you like, to be a good sharer.", I explained.
I left the room for a minute and when I returned, SP informed me, "I guess I really do like those candy hearts, but you can still have them."
That little stinker found a way to be a good sharer without giving up her chocolate. I can feel my Dad powers weakening.
On a related note, we went to the high school basketball game last night and N1S wanted to sit with one of his classmates. This is a pretty big deal for him and us. He usually doesn't show much interest in what others are doing and sometimes struggles to socialize with his peers. We also know that this is a sign that he is growing up and not our little boy anymore. But last night he made us proud. He took his popcorn with him to sit with his friend, M, and he even shared some with her. I wasn't sure if he would offer or not. Fifteen minutes later he came bounding up the bleachers toward us.
"Can I share a sucker with M?" I couldn't say no. I gave him fifty cents to buy a few suckers and he let M choose which one she wanted.
Interacting with his peers in this way may seem pretty normal for third graders to act, but N1S has had to learn the tools used in social situations. We have been trying to go to places where we feel safe to let the kids go a little and give them a little more freedom. Church and school events seem to be a good fit to let the kids grow. Plus, events like these show the kids fun things to do as a family. They are good for the school, community and us. As the kids grow, they will be comfortable participating on teams and in groups and have some pride in their school, community and themselves. It's not easy for Lady Di and myself to let the kids go. We want them to stay small and sweet forever. But when the kids experience life in such positive ways, it makes it somewhat easier to watch them grow up.
All a parent wants for their kids is for them to grow up happy and prepared to live life on their own someday. I don't want it to happen any faster than it is happening now. We have to enjoy the kids in the present, because the older they get, the faster time flies. We just have to make sure they have enough chocolate.