The other day I took some friends’ kids out for a photo shoot as a surprise gift for their Mom. Mind you, these kids are on their Thanksgiving break and here I am, pulling them away from their basketball court, devices (though I caved and let those come along for the ride) and their couch. The fact that they not only complied, but had a genuinely good attitude about my request is a testament to the way they are being raised. In a typical teenager fashion, after the first stop, one of them asked what was next and how long it’ll take to get there. The question popped up again after our last stop. I smiled and said, “Actually…we’re headed home” which resulted in a “oh we are….okay, cool.” Though he acted as if we had been driving for hours, the same teen spoke up to say “oh, I know where we are….we should be home in like 10 minutes.” As we looked at the jam-packed sea of cars in front of us, his older brother and I laughed saying it might be longer than that.
Multiple times during the car ride home, the kids thanked me for doing this for their Mom and like their genuine attitude at the beginning, they really meant these words. It would be easy to say that was planned, their mother told them to say that….but I didn’t care—I’m a sucker for good manners and hearing nice things. Truth be told, their parents have raised them to be respectful, use their manners and be genuinely nice.
Once I returned the kids safety to their house, their Mom and I sat down to visit. She played along with my surprise by not asking any questions and even saying, “I don’t know…she won’t tell me” when her husband called during our visit. When she walked me to my car, I told her how good the kids were, how fun it was to see them get along and that she’s doing a good job. She thanked me before we hugged good-bye and I went on my way.
Even though I don’t have any kids of my own…just a niece and nephews I adore, I know this for sure: Parenting is not easy. It is not for the faint of heart. I see that with my friends who are parents (such as the friend I mentioned earlier), my sister who is a mom of 5, my mom, etc….Parenting requires being the adult and setting the tone. Parenting requires being firm, not one’s friend. Children will get mad at you, say they hate you, threaten to run away, etc. They will hopefully realize later on that you were only being tough for their own good. Mind you, they may not say “thank you” outright…but in their own way, they will say it.
As we are a day from Thanksgiving, I want to express how grateful I am to my parents who always pushed me to do the right thing….who had high expectations for me and my sisters and who made the tough decisions. I like to think they paid off.
Enjoy the family time, the little moments, and the friends who feel like family, and find time to laugh….a lot! Happy Thanksgiving and remember, calories don’t count on holidays….