Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Valuable Life Lessons: Consequences

So I'm putting Firstborn to bed last night, and in the process I flip over this plastic bucket that's sitting on his bed.

This particular bucket has a history. We picked it up at Target last weekend, so that we'd have something in the car in case the evening's illness decided to visit us again. (Which, actually, it did, so... yay us?) Anyway, after cleaning it out, I'd put it Firstborn's room Sunday night, just in case he needed it again.

So last night - Monday night - as I'm putting him to bed, I flip over the bucket and find that there are toys hiding underneath. I remarked on this - "Hey, there are toys under this bucket," or something equally insightful - as I put the bucket back on the floor.

"I was using the bucket to hide the toys," Firstborn informed me. "That way they could surprise people."

"Well, they surprised me," I told him. I scooped up the toys and dropped them in the bucket. Then, because I like to check on things like this, I asked: "Are they okay down here in the bucket? Or should I take them out in case you need the bucket to throw up?"

Firstborn thought about this, but only for a moment. "We should take them out," he said decisively, "just in case."

And I nodded, and I did. But I am very proud of that 'just in case.' That's a boy who's looking ahead to consider what might happen, and what we can do about it. That's an understanding of cause and effect - of actions and consequences. And that's something that I very much want him to learn and understand.

And he's getting it.

I'd like to say something like, "These are the moments that make parenting worthwhile," but that's not right. Parenting is either worthwhile, or it isn't - and there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer for that, but it's something that has to be weighed in the balance overall, not something that can be justified by a particular moment here or there. But it was still a damned fine moment.

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