It's one of those funny things that all parents witness from time to time... where you see one or all of your kids do something or act a certain way that you acted as a child. I get smacked in the face with it frequently around here! My oldest child, Butch Cassidy, does this to me a lot.
Today, he was playing out back with his brother Sundance and a neighborhood friend, G. G is really more of a friend of Sundance's, but they all play together... even the Princess joins them on occasion. They were all jumping and wrestling on the trampoline out back. I had talked to them beforehand and reminded all of them to play nicely... that I knew there would be wrestling, but to not do anything that would actually hurt someone. G and Sundance pretty well adhere to my guidelines.... they rarely take things too far. Butch Cassidy, on the other hand, seeks to push the limits on anything and everything, anywhere and anytime. I finally had to make Butch come inside and let the others play without him, because he kept hitting a little too hard.... cranking things up a notch or two too high. The other boys had also deserted him, after begging for me to intervene. He came inside reluctantly, dejected, and I talked to him for the millionth time about playing too rough, and I could tell by looking at him that the rough play wasn't just a lack of self control... he was jealous of them. Although he likes them both individually, he can not (this is an ongoing thing) handle playing with them together. he doesn't want to share G's attention with Sundance, and he doesn't want to share his brother and best friend, Sundance, with someone else. He's been used to dictating Sundance's friendships since he was born.... Butch dislikes this lack of control. He gets it from his Mama....me.
It instantly reminded me of the incident known in my family and coined by my parents as "Blowing the Whistle".... "Jessica HAS to Blow the Whistle". Any time in my life from that incident forward when I was being bossy or a control freak about something, this situation always got brought up. I was about Butch Cassidy's age, I had a double play date at my house. My best friend from school, Rebecca, and my cousin, April, who had been the closest thing I had ever had to a sister were both there... and I had no idea how to play with both of them at the same time. So, naturally, heeding my control impulses, I took charge of the situation. I had a whistle... no telling here from... and I decided that I wanted them to do jumping jacks and run when I blew it... and stop when I blew it again. Kind of like a coach, I guess... but I refused to share the whistle and let the other two girls have a turn being in charge. as you can imagine, they quickly got sick of this game, ditched me, and went off to play together... leaving me the odd one out. I was crushed, but it taught me several important life lessons. I found out, and have found out other times in my life that taking charge is a great thing at times, but it won't win you friends in the social realm. Respect, maybe... but not appreciation. Reflecting on it now, I see even more the importance of letting kids play and learn to handle themselves on their own, among their peers, without constant intervention. It's part of growing up, and once again I am thankful that God has given me a Herd of kids, so I cannot helicopter parent them and keep them from learning these lessons on their own. Butch Cassidy just learned a hard lesson, and I know there will be many more to come.