So both my kids are swimming now. My 11yo is on the local swim team and swims 3x a week for 45min and my 7yo is still going through the levels classes for stroke development etc. Needless to say, their swim times DO NOT overlap and so yes, I either get to spend 3 hours at the pool or do two visits to the pool. I choose the latter. Luckily the pool is 8 minutes from home.
My 7yo has 3 more levels to go before he can try out for swim team, and then the times should overlaps and my time spent at the pool will drop drastically.
So last week was the end of level 3 and we waited eagerly to see if he graduated to level 4. I was sitting poolside reading (The Art of Happiness by HH Dalai Lama— highly recommend btw!) and I observed a couple sitting a couple seats over from me. He was immersed in his phone, she– absolutely gorgeous with beautiful poker straight long hair looked practically angry. Her little 6yo adorable girl was in the same class as my 7yo.
Class ended and I asked if he graduated. He didn’t know yet. I quickly toweled him off, and he and I both skipped our way to the coach to get the verdict. “He’s really close!” She said somewhat apologetically. “Yay babe, did you hear that, you’re almost there!” Was my response. “We need to re do level 3 one more time. It’ll be done in no time!”
We walk back to our things, I start to change him. Gorgeous long haired girl has report in hand for her 6yo and I’m dying to ask her whether she moved up. But something holds me back from being my usual social self. It’s that look.
She still hasn’t softened her look. Uh oh, the 6yo mustn’t have graduated either. She still looks mad! Husband is still immersed in his phone.
So after changing, we go to the entrance to register for another round of level 3. I had already registered him for level 4 in anticipation of him moving up, so I just have to move him back down to 3. Gorgeous lady is in front of me. She lets the front desk people know that she wants to register her daughter for level 4, as she has just graduated.
Your daughter moved up, but you haven’t smiled once?
Yes i know I’m being judgy here — I don’t know what’s going on in their lives and I ought not to make assumptions.
I practically high-fived my boy for a job well done.
He has come SO FAR!
He was so intimidated by the pool. And now he’s doing dives and jumps off the diving board and even attempted the big curly slide. Something he would have NEVER done ordinarily.
So much progress!
I don’t care that he will redo level 3.
It just means that he’ll excel when he gets to the next level and the next after that.
But honestly lady!
Smile at your kid.
At least when you’re interacting with her.
And definitely when she just graduated to the higher level of swim.
This really got the wheels turning for me.
Our kids are hyper-observant about what we do and say.
It’s not do as I say, it’s do as I do.
So what do you do?
- Are they seeing/hearing you bicker a lot?
- Do they hear you talk abruptly or rudely frequently?
- Do you talk to your friends around them as if they aren’t there?
- Do you complain a lot?
- Do you cut people off or flip them off or rant in traffic?
- How do you treat service staff?
- Do you open doors?
- Help little old ladies?
- Ignore the homeless person who’s panhandling? Or use it as a point of conversation to teach them a life lesson?
- How much do they see you on your phone? I think of this a lot– if they see me on my phone constantly- then when they do get their own phones – how can I ask them to minimize time on theirs?
- Do they see you smile or frown a lot?
You get the picture?
Nature vs. Nurture here right? And in this case a little bit of both.
If you are constantly a certain way- especially if it’s habitual – how can you expect your kids to be different?
Kindness, smiling, managing our emotions, making good choices are all traits that can be learned. Leadership starts with leading ourselves.
These are hard to focus on when we’re constantly tired, when we’re working long hours, when work deadlines are piling up.
It’s easy to zone out and do what comes easiest- which is to possibly be short fused or snap or be irritable when they’re annoying you.
But it’s in those moments in particular that we need to push past the pain of discipline and become super aware of our thoughts, words, actions and beliefs.
After all we aren’t raising kids.
We are raising our next generation political leaders, business owners, community advocates and professionals.
But most of all, hopefully we are raising kind, compassionate and gentle men and women with a heart for their community and a commitment to do good in the world.
Your kids are watching more than you know.
Put on a good show.