Raising a mensch

My husband and I agree that what we want for our children is to learn how to be happy no matter what their circumstances and to be good people - people who do the right thing and reach out to others. It's our opinion that those two abilities are more important than educational or monetary success - although we hope they'll do well in school and expect them to be self-supporting adults when they graduate college.  :-)Two boys start school with their sister to send them off

Benjamin gave us two opportunities to reinforce these two values.  First, during his soccer practice, another player criticized Benjamin when he missed a goal.  Beyond criticism, this other player apparently said Benjamin wasn't a good player (not true).  Benjamin came home very upset because this boy had hurt his feelings. I've learned that I have approximately no control over what anyone else says or does.  And I cannot change what someone else has said once said.  So my only choices are what to do with what someone says.  So I asked Benjamin if this boy's opinion mattered to him.  Through sniffles, I got a "no". Then I asked Benjamin if he wanted to give this boy power over him.  Another sniffled "no".  So I told him - they're just words and if you get upset by them - you give this boy power over you.  Do you want to give him power?  No! Don't give him the power to upset you...and sure enough, the tears dried up and Benjamin was ready for dinner.  Will he remember this next time someone says something that upsets him, I don't know, but I'll remind him.  Of course, we'll also have to adjust responses when it's someone who's opinion does matter...

Later that same week, I received a note from Wornick, our school, that Benjamin had been "caught" in the act of leadership.  There's a new student in the 3rd grade, a boy whose family moved here from Southern California this summer.  On the first full day of school, the children went outside for lunch and recess and the new boy was sitting at a table by himself.  My son walked over to him and invited him to join his table with the other 3rd grade boys.  Benjamin has never been the new child at a school except when everyone is new (starting kindergarden). His sensitivity to the loneliness that a new child would feel is a wonderful attribute.  The fact that he did the right thing and was a good person - makes us very proud.  We made a big deal about it that night at dinner and his younger brother started recounting nice things he did all day in an effort to "keep up" with Benjamin.  Keeping up on good deeds - I'll take it!