As a child, my mother liked to say I was spirited and I taught her patience.
My grandmother had other ideas. She referred to me as that child who couldnít sleep without his daily dose of timeouts or spankings (both of which I got plenty). As an adult looking back, Iím convinced I was a bit of both.
I had all the issues every child is blessed with today. I was hyper and had attention deficit disorder, but I was blessed or cursed, depending on who you asked, with courage.
Thatís a dangerous mix.
I would push the limits. I was the child not satisfied with just being mischievous while running up and down grocery store aisles. I wanted to make a statement.
My grandmother, before she passed away, must have told the story a hundred times of me biting into a loaf of bread at the grocery store. Her favorite part, every time she reminded me, was how I bit through the plastic just to spite her. As I think back to her telling me, that was my favorite part of her retelling too.
My recent trip to the grocery store reminded me of that time in my life. It was nothing special, but as I was browsing fruit, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a little girl pretending to roll a head of lettuce down the aisle. As she did this she cheered for herself once the lettuce knocked over a plastic ketchup bottle. She couldnít have been older than three, but what struck me was the world she had constructed to entertain herself.
This isnít the first time Iíve seen a child doing whatís not expected, but it always makes me smile. I saw what looked to be the little girlís mother approaching and she didnít have the same look of jubilation on her face as her child. She looked like she wanted to end her daughterís dreams of professional bowling. To the little girlís surprise and mine as well, the woman picked her up and squeezed her in a hug.
I congratulated her on having such a creative child. Not that bowling in the grocery store is the acceptable norm, but she didnít overreact. She was surprised by my response and after I revealed my childhood grocery store antics, she better understood my observation.
Children need guidance, structure and discipline, but donít forget that understanding and a forgiving heart are just as important. I have just as many stories of punishments that I deserved and received as the ones I deserved and didnít. Being a parent isnít joyous all the time. Neither is being a child.
My mother said I taught her patience and Iím convinced my grandmother found joy in my creative troublemaking. To all parents, whatever stresses you about your child, itís not that bad. Donít forget, not long ago we all were taking a bite into a bread loaf (well maybe not biting bread, but you get the point).