Saturday, March 13, 2010
I was reminded by the post of a blogfriend of a little incident in the Dallas mall.
While we were waiting for the escalators to start up for the day, I took the kids over to one of those little playground areas where they have large, colorful foam shapes. The kids were very excited, until we saw that there was a height limit. Zaya was just barely too tall, so I wouldn't let him come inside.
He was very sad, but I didn't really know what else to do, because he could clearly read the directions and see that he reached a little higher than the line. We teach our kids to obey authority, not circumvent it if they think they can get away with it.
We were just going to all leave, but Art noticed a set of escalators that had just started working, so he took Zaya over there and I let Mim play in the play area. As soon as I took off her shoes and let her run off to play, three very large children came over, read the sign, discussed it a little bit, and then came in and started playing a very rowdy game of hide and seek tag, knocking over the little ones and generally intimidating all and sundry. Their own mother was walking around the area shopping, and totally ignoring her children.
After about ten minutes of this, Zaya came back over with Art, and looked very confused. I could see it in his eyes. "Why do those kids get to play, but I don't?"
I made Mim come put on her shoes, and we left. I tried to explain to Zaya that we don't follow the rules just because we might get in trouble, or just because other people are also doing it, but because that's the right thing to do. I think he got it, but it was frustrating anyway.
It was one of those times when I wanted to bend the rules, just a bit, and say that it would be fine. I can't do that, though. There are entirely too many adults in this world who allow their children's integrity to disintegrate before it's even fully formed. When our kids hear us lie on the phone to avoid an obligation, or park where we know we shouldn't, or tell them that they don't have to follow rules that are 'silly', then we undermine the men and women that they will become.