At roughly 4:30 PM yesterday, as we exited the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Edgar made a proclamation that he was hungry. Well, “proclamation” probably isn’t the right word. “”Display” might be better. He assumed a supine position on the sidewalk and screamed something to the effect that he was STARVING! and the only thing that could possibly stave off his current affliction was a lollipop. I let him know that a lollipop was not the best, most filling choice and added that the only chance he actually had for food was to get up and walk in the direction of the car.
Moving toward us at this moment was a thin, bearded man and his well-mannered albeit rather small daughter. The little girl was immediately and understandably intrigued by Edgar’s histrionics–as intrigued as her father appeared annoyed. She stared at Edgar who was less in turmoil and more in performance mode when the following exchange took place:
Me (to the little girl and her father): “Take note of this moment. One day when he has his own show you can say you knew him when . . .”
Father (to me): “Yeah, you go ahead and keep telling yourself that.”
I don’t often get to use the words “supercilious” and “officious” in everyday conversation, but those were the two that sprung to mind after receiving his rather snippy retort. But what I really wanted to say to this father in response to his comment was “Thanks, I will.”
As a parent, aside from maintaining a substantial and unflappable sense of humor, it seems to me vital to put a positive spin on as many of the iterations of our children’s personalities as possible. If your child is stubborn, show them how to channel that trait in effective ways. If your child is talkative, teach them how to use that talent to help others. And if your child has a flair for the dramatic, suggest–both seriously and in jest–possibilities of how they can best work it.
This father’s comment presupposed that I might be in some kind of denial (and not just being funny or attempting to defuse the situation) about my son. His comment also assumed that there was something “wrong” with Edgar’s behavior. And while I understand we were on Harvard’s illustrious campus, and the chances of this man’s IQ being roughly double mine are good, I would challenge him to remember that children–including his daughter–will rise to the expectations set for them. Or sink.
There will come a day when his daughter isn’t quite so well-mannered, or reveals some human foible or weakness. For her sake, I hope he can hop off his high horse, laugh, redirect, and channel. For her sake, I’ll keep telling myself that.