If I were a great parent, I would have taken appropriate action when my son told my daughter to shut up. I didn’t take any action, which means I’m not a great parent or a very good referee.
I didn’t like my son saying “shut up,” but I also knew that “please be quiet,” wouldn’t have gotten him anywhere. And where he wanted to go was away from his sister’s loud and persistent singing.
Don’t get me wrong.
My daughter is a wonderful singer. She was born singing. When she started daycare, the teachers said they always knew where Kendall was because they simply followed her song.
Not much has changed over the past decade, which is exactly why Shep reached his limit and yelled “shut up.”
His sister, on the other hand, had every reason to be belting songs at the top of her lungs. She has an audition for a musical on Saturday and she was trying out every piece of music she thought would be appropriate.
Since I understood both of them, I couldn’t take sides. What I could do was sympathize with both of them, and that’s the path I chose to take.
It may not have been the direction for which parenting experts advocate, and it certainly didn’t do much for creating peace in my house. But I like to think it provided my children with a glimpse of the real world.
In the real world, people have different priorities, and sometimes those priorities conflict. We have to figure out a way to live together anyway.
In the real world, we know that music may touch the soul, but the same tune affects everyone differently. We have to let others dance to their own beat just as we dance to ours.
And in the real world, maintaining general happiness in life requires deciding when to fight for what you want and when to walk away. The best decisions are the ones that take into account the perspective of others.
I may not have given my children the gift of having the world’s most wise or patient mother, but I did give my kids what I consider one of the world’s greatest gifts. I gave them a sibling with whom they have many of the same conflicts they will soon have to face with roommates, co-workers, spouses and maybe even their own children.
And I also like to think that someday, in the distant future, they might actually appreciate that gift.